You can’t be unhappy in the middle of a big, beautiful river.
– Jim Harrison
Day two (if you exclude flying) equals a day on the Mekong Delta.
I really do love boats!
7.30am start. Apparently.
The bus to the Mekong actually left at 8.30. So for that hour, we watched the alley way market, with everything you can imagine. The man opposite where we had breakfast has fish galore – and he spent the morning gutting them for purchasers on a tree stump. Not your usual breakfast entertainment!
Then there was a bus journey. Vietnamese roads are very bumpy. We were launched from our seat on more than one occasion.
First stop, a huge pagoda. I never found out the name of it, but it was stunning. It had three huge Buddha statues, one to represent the past, one the present, and one the future. Whilst we were there, the monks were in prayer. About 100 Buddhist monks in their Orange robes chanting. I’ve never seen a sight so incredible.
Around the Mekong Delta
After the pagoda, we headed back to the bus to start our boat trip around the delta. We boarded a wooden water taxi type boat as a group of 45. The seats were not actually attached to the boat, the engine smoked (thick grey smoke) into the boat. The delta itself is the brown of a chocolate milkshake, the islands are mud banks covered in trees. Some of the islands are covered in million pound mansions with security fences, and £100,000 yachts. And others have the wooden huts jutting out over the water held up by sticks. It is a complete contrast.
The tour we took (I know, I hate organised tours, but it was cheap and it covered pretty much everything that we wanted to see and do down there) took us to the place where the ‘famous Vietnamese coconut candy’ is made. We saw every step of the making process, and then got to try it. It tasted like paraffin wax. I did not like this candy, but that is simply my own opinion. And we rode on a traditional horse and cart. I’m not entirely sure how the horse managed to hold its self up, it was a tiny thing, but clearly hardy and muscular because it not only pulled the crazy heavy cart with us in it, it RAN the entire way. I do hope it was well cared for and not being abused, but I fear they probably weren’t living in the best conditions.
Lunch might have been pork
But equally it might have been fish, or rat, or ostrich. And the menu also had dinosaur egg on it. I’ve decided that the Vietnamese must be hiding Jurassic Park. I hope to find it soon.
Christine and I walked over the ‘monkey bridge’. Essentially, a single strip bamboo arch over a pond. It wobbled. A lot. And cracked. A lot. But we did not fall off, for we are amazing.
Sam and Mark went ‘crocodile fishing’. 60p for a chunk of meat as big as my head attached to a fishing rod that they got to dangle over a heard of hungry crocodiles. I know it is solely for tourists, and I know that it was fun at the time. But looking back and looking into the conditions that animals are kept in in different countries, I fear that it probably isn’t something that should be encouraged by partaking. Of course, if the locals were not able to make money from the animals, they may well have simply been killed, so maybe this is the lesser of two evils?
Honey and Snakes
Next bit, honey and snakes. It was exactly that. They gave us honey tea and then put a python round our neck. Bam, done! Run back to the boat to move to the next island. Here we were offered fruit. Lots of fruit. We listened to some incredible live music and had a trip on a traditional rowing boat. The water line was precariously close to coming into the boat, and I know that crocs live in some of those waters.
When we returned to the big boat, the vessel began to tip. So our very helpful tour guide requested Mark swap sides with a tiny little Vietnamese girl in order to even out the boat. It worked, but Mark was not impressed.
Long day today.
What are your thought on organised tours? How do you think we as travellers should react to animal ‘exhibits’ like the crocodile fishing?
S and the rest x