Dan and Lu's Travels
On the bus at 7.45am to go to the Mekong Delta. This is south west of Ho Chi Minh City, and is the end of the Mekong river which flows from China through Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and into Vietnam, where it splits into what they call the 'river of nine dragons', then flows into the South China Sea. This is the area where rice, among other things, is farmed. In fact, this area produces enough rice to feed all of Vietnam, with some surplus (which is something, they have it with everything!). The bus took us to My Tho, where we got on a (very rickety) wooden boat and sailed down the river for about 15 minutes, to a little village where we were shown how they make coconut candy. Its like caramel, made using coconut milk. Thy also make rice wine (what they call Vietnamese whisky) and snake wine. Dan tried both drinks, I felt slightly light-headed from the stupid malaria tablet again. The snake wine is rice wine with a twist (a pretty sick one). They taunt a snake so that it coils and rears its body up, then they electrocute it so it dies but stays in that position, then they put it in a bottle after slitting it so its insides spill out into bottle too. Then they pour in the rice wine. Nice. Its supposed to give you strength, physically and sexually.....!! We also watched them make pop corn, pop rice and pop noodles. They use sand dredged from the river bed in a wok style pan. It is heated up so it goes black then they just drop the corn or rice into it and within seconds it has puffed up. It is then sived so they can reuse the sand. We at that and sweet potato and nougat with pop rice. Back on the boat and tim we sailed for about 45 minutes. This was gorgeous, the houses lining the river are just huts, sometimes verging on shanty towns, and so many people live here. There was lots going on, many boats with fruit (watermelons piled high) and fishing boats. All the women in this area wear the conical hats, and its so different from Ho Chi Minh. It is what you think of as Vietnam, this and the jungle countryside we saw on the bus ride to Mekong. The journey here was very different to the river area but houses are the same or similar. You realise how poor this country is and how many people live in poverty. having said that there are, every so often, houses that look newly built, and are painted very bright colours, built next to wooden huts. We stopped for lunch, fish on the middle of each table that you had to help yourself to. Someone showed us how to make a wrap up with the fish and noodles, veg, rice etc. We chatted to some Aussies on our table about going to Laos. Think we've changed our route completely already! After lunch, Dan and some other went for a bike ride while some chilled in hammocks. I caught up on the journal. Dan then played the owner of the place at billiards. Well, I say played, rather shot some balls - he had no idea what he was doing, and he's pretty sure he lost! Then back on the boat, sailing down the river reminded me very much of Apocalypse Now .... sorry, there was bound to be a 'Nam film reference somewhere, wasn't there?! We got off the boat at Ben Tre and looked around the food market. More amazing in some ways than Ben Trang market in HCMC, as it was more rural. One side of the market is on the river so the fish and seafood is as fresh as you can get. Everyone here stared at us. We think its because I'm the palest person ever and Dan is the tallest person ever. But seriously, it was wierd; people stopping and staring, one woman came over and touched me! Another blew Dan a kiss! I read about this but thought it was typical Lonely Planet hyperbole. Its not! Back in Saigon we went out, sat in a bar called Saigon we chatted to a guy called Sam. He was English but had spent the past 3 months here, then before that 6 years in Thailand, and before that 2 years in Cape Town. He was nice enough, apart from the fact he seemed disturbingly familiar with many of the local women....... Went to Eden (again.... it just feels like Vox, everyone!!) Met Kalle and Markus (the Swedish blokes) and talked about meeting up in the next place north. The owner came out and sat with us, she is a lovely lady who used to sell fruit on the streets for years and worked her way up to buying this bar, which I thought was a cool story. Got back pretty late agin.