Mekong Delta

Trip Start May 08, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Vietnam  , Yucatan Peninsula,
Thursday, June 5, 2008

Well we'd somewhat reluctantly booked another tourm this time to the Mekong Delta. Looking at independent travel it was just too time consuming to do it that way. I think that the ground we covered in two days on the tour would have taken about 4 days on our own, and even thought that clearly suggests that we moved quite fast it turned out to be fine. At the end of the day one floating market is much like another, one riverside village is much like another one.....well you get the picture.

Anyway on the tour we found ourselves sitting beside Derek from Sydney and Pieter from Amsterdam and ended up hanging out with them for the two days which was a good laugh. From Saigon we drove by bus to My Tho (this time with a guide who was mercifully low on idle chatter) and boarded a boat from there to visit Phoenix Island, Unicorn Island and Dragon Island (its just a name, its actually a peninsula - not). Sadly there were actually none of the aforementioned creatures to be seen but I suppose they may have been away for the week and some kind of conference...what?

We spent the day visiting some local industries like coconut candy and rice wine making, both delicious although the wine packed a bit of a punch. There was also a visit to a bee farm for some honey tea and to a local village where we were entertained by some traditional music while feasting on native fruits like lychees, durian and others. We had opted for the homestay rather than a hotel, figuring that no matter how it went it had to be better than staying in some boring generic hotel in Can Tho. Pieter was already doing that but Derek changed his plan to join us. We were then collected by motorbike for a half hour ride into the countryside, down narrow lanes not even big enough for one car until we reached what seemed, in the gathering dusk, like a tiny village. Much to our surprise our homestay was actually in a small guesthouse with lovely rooms including bathroom and hot water. This was very much different to what we'd expected given the experiences of others who had done the same type of trip (I'm looking at you here Jerry the King) but we weren't complaining. We did have a good element of homestay as the owner stayed with us for most of the night explaining a lot about the area and life in the village. He was a chemistry teacher by day and as the rice wine flowed he eventually ended up writing some chemical formulas on the back of a napkin for reasons known only to himself. Other than that he also strummed his guitar playing some good stuff, and our dinner was excellent with fresh fish and lots more to eat.

The next morning we walked to see his school and found a larger place than expected. Clearly a village here is a little bigger than a village in Ireland but in any case they had a ridiculous selection of fresh fish, some of them caught in the rice fields apparently. Impressive.

Anyway day two was a lot less interesting than day one, although the floating market at Cai Rang was very good. Its amazing just how much of their lives revolve around the water. Also our host took us by motor boat back to meet the rest of our hotel-staying group but after about 15 minutes we realised that the level of water in theh bottom was rising quite sharply....surely not a good sign. Once it came above the floorboards our driver saw it and eventually pulled over to bail out. He got rid of an impressive amount of water and we set off again with the weight slightly better balanced this time, although the water continued to stream in. Thankfully we managed not to sink and made it to the rendezvous only slightly late.
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