One of the many great things about travelling with Kayla and Mel is the fact that they too like to try adventurous things, one of which, is food. Coming to Southeast Asia, I knew I would be encountering some very diverse food options, and I am happy to say that I was not disappointed.
On this particular day [the day of the worm], Melissa, Kayla, and I had decided to embark on a day trip to the Mekong Delta, a river/tributary about two hours outside of HCMC.
This day started out interestingly enough, as we were placed last minute on bus, completely full of tourists from Vietnam and China. We laughed in a confused sort of way, and wondered if our tour was going to be given in English [it was].
Our tour guide, who told us to call him TinTin (after the cartoon) translated between Vietnamese and English the entire trip.
Halfway to our destination, we stopped at a pagoda where there were four giant Buddhas. We were in awe at the size and stature of them.
After taking in the scenery and snapping some cool pics, we headed back on the bus.
Our trip to the Mekong Delta consisted of two stops at islands off the delta, uniquely named Coconut Island and Unicorn Island. Our first stop was to Coconut Island, where, not surprisingly, we learned about the coconut harvesting process and how it can be made and adapted into a variety of different things (candy, flakes, oil, etc.)
Afterwards, we headed to Unicorn Island for lunch. This was not named in the same regards as Coconut Island was. This is also when the festivities got interesting.
While lunch was included in the price of the tour, each table had a menu on it in case people wanted alternative options. Immediately, our eyes were drawn to the bottom left corner, where there was something called “coconut worm”. And yes, this looked just as you might expect it to – a big, fat, grub-like looking worm.
We were immediately intrigued. We all looked at each other, seeing who would bite (no pun intended). Being the fairly adventurous people that we are, we decided to go for it. With the help of our new Vietnamese friend Hoang, we ordered four coconut worms.
“Dead or alive?” the waiter asked.
“DEAD!!!!!” we shrieked in response, not prepared for the option the waiter had given us.
However, we were quickly told that if we wanted the worms dead, they would be cooked and prepared in a way where they didn’t look like worms anymore.
“ALIVE.” We changed our minds, wanting to up the ante. We had sealed our fate.
About five minutes later, the waiter came back and placed a bowl on our table. We looked inside and screamed – the worms were there.
Not only were they there, but they were bigger than the picture, AND they were squirming. We were disgusted. At this point, we had caused quite a stir and other curious customers were coming up from other tables to have a look. All squirmed with disgust. But we ordered the worms, so we had to follow through.
Kayla went first. She reached into the bowl with her chopsticks and came out with a big, fat, squirming worm. And down it went – she took it like a champ. One down, two to go.
Melissa went next, choosing from the remaining three worms. She also did really well, reaching for her water to wash down the taste of the grub.
Next it was my turn. Disgusted, I reached my chopsticks into the bowl and came out with a fat and wiggly worm. I had to do it. There was no going back.
Memories of watching Fear Factor as a kid flashed through my head. I remembered the variety of absolutely repulsive food they had to eat and recalled to mind their strategy of chewing FAST and immediately. This was my game plan.
I put the worm in my mouth and started chewing right away. I was NOT going to have that thing crawl around inside my mouth. I’ll spare the dirty details but as disgusting as the whole thing was, it wasn’t that bad! THANKFULLY it was covered in a spice, so I only had to taste the spice, instead of the taste of the worm.
A few chews later and a gulp of water to wash it down, I had done it. I ate a live, creepy, crawly, fat, grubby, worm. I was proud of myself and all of us.
This was definitely the most adventurous food experience I have ever done. What made it even more adventurous is the fact that the coconut worm was not even common amongst the Vietnamese. We felt badass.
Our tour included a few more mild food experiences:
A boat ride down a small river:
Some crocodiles at a crocodile farm:
And then were were done and headed home.
It was a great day with a very interesting food experience!