Mekong Delta

I somehow succeeded in getting up at 6:30 and caught my tour bus down to the Saigon river from where we went by boat to the estuary, then up the Upper Mekong to My Tho in the Ben Tre province where we took in a few local sights. Then we went across by bus to the capital of the delta, Can Tho, which was home for the night. I went out for dinner with a mad German that I was also sharing a room with, we expected it to be low key so we were still wearing our minging shorts and flip flops and stuff. However we somehow ended up in the Golf Club (odd name as it was in the centre of town with no sign of a golf course nearby) which was rammed with affluent young, trendy Vietnamese. We did stand out just a little bit, being the only two westerners in there and also the only people in shorts and flip flops, and with me being about 6 inches taller than the next nearest person in there. At 11pm they shut off the music and brought out a spin-the-wheel type thing which seemed to cause great excitement, which was followed by a slow song under soft lighting which was immediately followed by super-loud techno and flashing lights. All very strange..

Next morning we pottered about the floating market nearby and visited various coconut processing factories and a rice mill and all that kind of thing. This was followed by another boat trip up the lower Mekong to Chau Doc for our second night, in a beautiful thatched hotel complex a bit out of town. Local transport to and from town was quite fun, mostly by motorbike towing a trailer. I ended up sitting on the front of the trailer, just balanced on a little shelf of a seat, legs dangling down beside the back wheel of the bike which was quite a cheap thrill. The town seemed to shut down my 9pm so we went back to the hotel by push bikes which also tow trailers for you to sit in and forced the hotel to reopen their bar for a few more.

For the last day we started off in rowing boats, ours was being rowed by this pregnant woman which was a bit of a guilt trip, but the look of delight on her face when I tipped her 5,000 dong (15p) was well worth it as she was jumping up and down with joy. Later we reckoned that was probably somewhere between half and one day’s wages. Finally we caught our boat up the Mekong once more to the Cambodian border, at which point your moor up and go through your immigration formalities in a shed on the river bank, then on to Phnom Penh.

Dinner last night was hilarious – 4 of us went out to “Happy Herbs Pizza Place” which has a fairly bog-standard Italian menu, but if you precede the name of any dish by “Happy” or “Very Happy” when you order then you get an extra ingredient free of charge – marijuana. They forgot this vital component in one of the girl’s lasagne so the friendly waiter brought over a pot full of it for her to sprinkle on top, apologising profusely for his error!

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