War Remnants and Candy on the Mekong

Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
Trip End Mar 08, 2010

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Friday, March 5, 2010

Early start again today. First on the agenda is the War Remnants Museum just down the street from our hotel. Another effort to remind the future generations of the traumas of war. The sidewalk is lined with students waiting for their group tour. Again, like children everywhere, they're not really into the old folks history- it's just a school outing to them- horseplay in the line. Not a solemn face in the crowd. The courtyard is filled with real remnants- tanks, planes. The inside is filled with their history of struggle against French and Americans- a time-line illustrated with photo journalism.

We head out again for 1.5 hours ride into the countryside on the way to the Mekong Delta. We stop at a tourist departure point- toilets and souvenirs- where we're gathered into our small boat with our local guide, Kim. We visit one island where our walk becomes a botanical adventure- pointing out diverse fruit trees. We stop for a bit of a taste and some local music. Some instruments very familiar from the trip to China. But one really unique-  one-string on a bamboo base that's stroked while the palm of the hand is pressed to the string to shorten or lengthen it- like the fingertips are used on a guitar. I give it a try but can't quite get the movement down- my effort sounds very off-key.

We walk back to the river and divide ourselves between two smaller boats. We head up the narrow tributary into another island. We stop at one pier for a cooking demonstration- and purchase opportunity- of coconut candy. I pick up several packages for the always hungry gang at work. We're also entertained with a captured python that's draped around the shoulders of several willing folks for a very different photo op. After tea and a little local moonshine, we head back to our little boats, and then back out the stream for a stop at a restaurant in the jungle. Highlight of the meal is the whole, fried elephant fish that our waitress pulls apart to assemble delicious rice paper rolls.

Then back to our big boat for the ride across the river to our tourist depot and of course, the toilet and souvenir shopping opportunities it represents before the ride back to the city.

Tonight is our farewell dinner at the Cordon Bleu Restaurant located on a tiny side street a short bus ride from the hotel. Fabulous meal to mark the end of the trip as a group. Some folks are staying on while others return to the states through diverse paths. J and I are the only ones heading on the Hong Kong for the post-tour extension. As we walked back to our bus, we were surprised to find that the tiny side street was home to many diverse little happy houses, each with uniquely and colorfully dressed (interesting application of the work uniform concept) lovely happy ladies. HMMM? Mark really knows how to show us the local sights.
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