A common misconception when traveling is that your touring has to be expensive. When I was traveling through Vietnam, I had decided to visit Ho Chi Minh City. I adored the city but found myself having a great deal of unprecedented extra time in which I could explore other parts of Vietnam. Upon getting advice from my hotel, I went to the local tourist street and priced out the tour options that were available within a day’s drive. What I did not expect was to find a $1 increase in my tour price to participate in a homestay with a local family in Vietnam.
The Mekong had fascinated me for many years and I was elated to go see the floating market tour; however, I did not expect to get to have the kind of life experience that I did that evening. At sunset, we were transferred into a small motorboat with a local who spoke hardly any English. There were two Australians, two Americans, and two British people in our group.
Upon arriving at a private home that farmed rice patties, we were shown to our individual bungalows per couple and were instructed that dinner was almost ready.
Upon arriving at the dinner table, we saw a fresh spread of Vietnamese spring rolls prepared for us my the host’s mother who was eighty years old. Additionally, we were provided a bottomless amount of Vietnamese beer called “333,” which is now one of my favorites. We dined for hours enjoying the grandmother’s food and getting to know our hosts and travel companions. We were even shown how to make the recipes ourselves. The environment of that dinner was so sensational and the air was so pure that I will never forget it.
What was so wonderful about this homestay is that we helped a local family who really needed our money by coming to see their home and learning about their culture. In the morning, the father showed us his rice patties and showed us how he farmed them. He additionally took us to his friend’s fruit farm where we learned about the local fruits and were able to try some. Had I not seen this $1 USD increase in my tour price, I would have never had this sort of fascinating life experience. There were several other hotel options that were $15 USD and up. Thus, if I had paid more, I would have seen yet another Western hotel rather than an awesome Vietnamese personal bungalow. This experience greatly taught me to take the more unpredictable tour options that allow you to interact with the locals. Not only will you be giving back to people who need your help, but you will also have an amazing life experience in the process!