Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
132Trip End Jan 04, 2012
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The arrival at My Tho harbour brought us onto our first boat, a small ferry across to one of the Mekong islands in the area. We would be visiting a couple of this group of islands. The islands are all named after special animals, high in the importance in Vietnamese culture. Firstly Dragon Island, and then Unicorn, Phoenix and Turtle island. I find it a little amusing that the special animals are all mythical except for the trusty Turtle. It gives the impression that they were fed up of bullshitting and thought - "I can't think of any other mythical creatures, why don't we worship a turtle, at least it will make em laugh". I know thats not the case, but I like to think it is.
On Unicorn Island we stopped briefly at a little honey restaurant who kept bees and the tour guide talked to us about honey production while allowing the little bees to swarm around him. They were a lot smaller than our UK counterparts and appeared unwilling to sting him. We trialled some honey tea (very nice) and some honey based snacks (I bought some honey peanut snacks to enjoy later) and then went on our way
Into some little canoe type boats we were paddled along some very small tributaries, tight enough to fit maybe 3 boats side to side within the channel. I know this is quite an accurate measurement as for most of the journey there were 3 boats abreast. The channel was packed with little boats ferrying back and forth with little old ladies smiling at you with their hands out asking for money. They took turns in picking up tourists and so with the number of boats they probably only got a couple of trips a day. They still all smiled. As I stepped off the boat I handed my paddler (there were 2 paddlers, one at each end of the boat) a one dollar bill. She smiled and was extremely greatful. She didn't ask for more, she didn't even ask for the dollar. I felt extremely good. It's nice to make a difference every now and again.
We were paddled out into the open water and back onto our bigger boats. The trip then continued taking us to the Ben Tre province which was on the opposite side of the delta to My Tho. Ben Tre is the hometown of coconut. It is everywhere. They use it for everything and essentially waste nothing, except for the coconut milk which they have no use for (As they use older coconuts for making things like candy etc, the milk is pretty rank and so they just throw it away - young coconuts are where the good stuff is). The guide showed us how they make coconut candy and how this is the best coconut candy as it has a higher percentage of coconut oil etc and how you should buy it here because everywhere else is just a copy etc. What a load of rubbish. This is just a shopping trip. They let us taste it, and I humoured them.
We then bought 3 packs of the stuff in different flavours as it is sugary coconutty awesomeness in rice paper heaven
Another little boat transfer up a bigger tributary and I was delighted with the luck we were having. The blue skies were a welcome surprise. The guide had said earlier in the day "the tides changes by up to 2 metres at this time of year because it rains every day". Not today it seems Sonny Jim.
Lunch was had in a little dog riddled restaurant on one of the islands, and Kate spent some time sitting with a couple of puppies. Lunch was adequate but nothing special.
The last stop was back on Unicorn Island to sit and listen to some Vietnamese music and enjoy some local fruit. The music was gentle and chilled. The instruments were plinky, and the fruit was juicy. A nice touch was the chilli sauce powder to be enjoyed with pineapple pieces. It was strange, but a good combination.
We got back to My Tho ready for the bus pick up and we were pretty happy with our day. This little trip had cost $20. So what if it was a shopping trip, it was a pretty interesting one