Delta life and road to Saigon
Trip Start Jun 16, 2011
69Trip End Nov 10, 2011
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Where I stayed
Hotel Thien Hong
I woke up at 5 am (!!!!) and it was still dark even though roosters and birds were serenading together, trying to wake everybody up. Well, it worked on me ! At 6, the sun was there and I got out of bed for a quick wake up shower (no hot water, putain fais chier ! Just kidding, I was actually looking forward to this cold shower...). Backpack packed, ready to go, I was waiting in a hammock for my breakfast to come. The owner set up my table nicely, and invited me to come and have it. Guys, Vietnamese coffee is STRONG ! Very strong ! Very very strong ! But I had loads of sweet condensed milk with it... Hehehe Ludo I thought about you when I had some bread with condensed milk on it... Reminded me of our "tube blowing" times :-))))
After breakfast I waited again in the hammock, listening to Fink with my great Bose headphones, for my guide to pick me up. He was there at around 8am. I went on the small boat and joined a group of 5 other French people. Jeeeez ! The French seem to love Vietnam and Cambodia ! There are so many of them ! Former colony reflex ?
I had a perfect morning, traveling in this boat and at some stage even a smaller one (you have to be right in the middle of it otherwise you end up head first in the Mekong) that is driven by women who paddle standing, with crossed paddles. It's a beautiful gesture to watch. We went through the maze of shady canals (it was there ! Hahaha) and I actually got, this time, the feeling of what delta life is. A peaceful, yet very busy, life. Strolling around was the nicest sensation.
We visited some other spots where we saw how pop rice was made... It's the same principle as pop corn, except it's done in a big big wok, with sand, that is black after several rounds of pop rice. It goes very quickly, then the guy passes the mixture in one first net to release the sand, then a second to release the rice cask, which is bring reused as combustible, like for rice noodles. The pop rice is then mixed with various possibilities of flavors, either stand alone, or as a mix : coconut milk, honey, peanut... It tastes good !
We then went for lunch and after a short nap, it was time to head back to the boat in order for me to reach Vinh Long again and the bus for Ho Chi Minh city.
Three hours of bus and beautiful landscapes followed. It's a pity I couldn't stop to take pictures... You know what ? They put their family graves in the middle of the rice fields and it really creates scenic landscapes. Amazing...
Arrived in HCMC, it takes about 5 seconds for me to be found by a guy who offers a hotel for 10 bucks to me. Well, the place is small but clean, in district 1 (downtown downtown !), in a tiny street like thousands of others that link big avenues. The owner is an old gentle man and I like the place. A quick shower later (in this great concept of shower / toilet / basin all in one), I'm out on the street ! The place is crazy, vibrant, busy, noisy, colorful, friendly. I like the vibe. I avoid the flashy bars full of westerners and, as usual, I do the "dog trail" method, i.e. I go all around the block in a big rectangle (no I don't pee every 10 meters !). I finally decide to stop in a Pho (pronounce "feu" for French speakers or like "fur" but without the "r" for English speakers) shack where I can see only asian people. Pho is THE Vietnamese soup which I have been longing to have since I arrived...
Well, it so happens that I actually get seated in front of... an Indonesian guy who doesn't know Saigon either and is so happy to meet another foreigner ! He even pays for my Pho ! He doesn't have a hotel so I take him to mine where he also takes a room and we end up walking the streets of Saigon together... We are meeting tomorrow morning for breakfast and will be visiting around a bit until lunch. He's here for business. He is a PR guy and his client is HP. Tomorrow he's taking journalists to visit a recycling factory for HP computers, a new big thing ! He's from Jakarta and was impressed I could write his name in Arabic (yeah, he's a Muslim, his name is Amir). So guys, I am invited in Jakarta anytime ! :-))
It's nearly 1 am and I am slightly tired... I wonder why :-)
Ok, a couple of goodies before I go :
- the fun fact : Vietnamese people say about Ho Chi Minh that you write it Ho chi Minh but you pronounce it Saigon :-)))
- I mistook jackfruit for durian... yuuuuuuuuk !
- Vietnamese people honor their ancestors until the fourth generation... After that, they believe they're Ok... :-))
- for fun, before I left my guide in Vinh Long, I bowed and joined my hands to him. He said "hey, we are in Vietnam, not in Thailand, we don't do this". I said, "oh,, they do in Cambodia too. How do you do in Vietnam ?". As he was hesitating, I did this "bras d'honneur" (sorry guys, don't know how it's called in English)... And we both burst out laughing... This was due to the fact we had joked all day... I had started hostilities in the morning when he asked me where I was from. When I told him I was French he said I was lucky because the 5 other people that I was joining were French too. I replied to him : "I am not lucky ! French ? Oh my god, any other bad news ??"... He laughed out loud and said "you are funny !". I guess that broke the ice because we never stopped joking after that...
Good night folks ! More tomorrow insha Allah !