Mon, 08 Nov 2004

Mekong delta trip, day 1 // at 23:59

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Bus, boat, boat, boat, another boat, big boat, little boat, tiny boat, back on the big boat, then back on the bus to the ferry boat.

The Mekong delta has a lot of boats! Over the course of the day I think we must have travelled on at least one of every type.

A comical start to the day, a mini-bus picked us up from the agent where we'd booked the tickets, then spent ten to fifteen minutes winding around the block to the real travel agent where everyone had to get off the mini-bus and onto the real coach! I think the second agent was actually closer to where we'd been staying.

An hour or so in the bus and we got to My Tho, out of the bus to wander around the fruit and fish market for half an hour before getting on the first of many boats for a cruise across to Turtle island for lunch in a fruit plantation. Hot and humid — what a surprise!

Another boat to another island to see coconut candy being made, sweet sticky lumps of it ending up in rice-paper wrappers for the tourists to buy. Then there was banana wine to try — a corrosive home-brew vaguely resembling sake. Some entertainment from a three piece band, then a trip back down the minor canals in the smallest of today's boats. Four passengers in single file, with a paddler at either end — the two young girls in our boat looked as though this was their first trip at carrying passengers, while the other boats headed off in a straight line down the canal, ours zig-zagged slowly from bank to bank, almost ramming a bridge pylon as the girl at the front tried to head around it to the left while the girl at the rear tried to go right. They didn't tip us out though, so we made it back to the bigger boat for the trip back to rejoin the bus, then by road to Can Tho (even though I think our itinary says we should go by boat to Can Tho).

Staying in a two-star hotel in Can Tho in a window-less brick room. Mosquitoes abound. Most of the group went out to dinner together at a café facing the river, more correctly, facing the enormous statue of Uncle Ho in the park that faces the river. After dinner Jo and I walked along the river bank looking at the lights reflecting in the water and the enormous paddle-wheeler bringing five-star tourists to the hotel complex on the waterfront.

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