Published: June 13th 2008June 13th 2008
I think i jinxed our trip by suggesting that the rainy season wasn't all that it was rumoured to be...either that or Mother Nature and Karma just decided to team up to bite us on the backside (so far, the ONE area the mossies haven't managed to attack...although Mobo may beg to differ!).
The rains swept in just in time to coincide with our outlandish breakaway from the city...and what might have been a nice simple boat ride into the heart of the Mekong Delta, turned into a hair-fuzzing combination of a broken down boat, an arthritic public bus, a slinky 4x4, a rocking sampan and Mobo decided to throw in a mode of transport of his own as he misjudged the riverbank and slithered down to our "homestay" accomodation on his backside. For that flutter of entertainment, i thank the weather heartily!
It wasn't all bad though...we had decided to let a tour company take the organisation in hand to get us through our 3 day exploration of the Mekong Delta and this meant that all we were responsible for was doing as we were told!
Our first port of call was a small island in the middle
of the delta where a boozey ex-Viet Cong farmer and his wife were ready and waiting with an amazing home-cooked lunch at our slightly delayed arrival time of 3pm! Their house was right on the banks of the river....accessible via a stuttering wooden boat, followed by careful (or not) negotiation of a wooden jetty and a muddy pathway. The house itself was a series of large rooms most of them open to the elements with a bit of protection from a coconut leaf awning, with an outdoor wood stove and a stone-walled area to wash in. But my favorite thing about the whole experience was, by a long way, the toilet!
While i don't mean to ask you to picture me on the loo...i hope you can appreciate the reality check i was forced into when i found myself in the middle of a rain-storm, stationed behing the chicken run, inside a small, square cage of waist-high wicker thatching, balanced on two planks of wood, staring down at the muddy water in the pond beneath me, sporting a traditional vietnamese cone hat! IT wins hands down, my "most surreal toilet moment" award, to date.
The rain meant that
we couldn't visit a couple of the places in the village, so instead we spent pretty much all of our first day in the kitchen! the lady of the house fed us, taught us to cook a snack, fed us, taught us to cook something else and then we sat down to an evening of beer toasting and tasting self-concocted vietnamese wonders! as pre-dinner treat....we were treated to a short paddle down the river to see the fireflies lighting up the water-side trees like christmas lights! i am still not convinced one of the cheeky little mites didn't have his own unique travelling experience when he ventured up my shorts...those glowing bottoms are no camouflage!
We were happy enough to get an early night due to an early start the following day...but we didn't quite anticipate being woken up by public radio broadcasting who knows what at 5.10am! We didn't hear much of what it had to say though as the rain roared back in to steal the limelight and hidden in our pink shimmering cocoon of a mosquito net, under a corrugated iron roof i felt like what i imagine a borrower would feel like if it were
imprisoned in a snare drum while someone practiced a roll...with the bass drum thundering sporadically next door.
The rest of the day the weather was ok though...we managed to see a floating market, get some breakfast in a street market (over-did it a little with 2 cups of vietnamese coffee...but the gecko's had kept me up most the night with their screechy kissing noises!), visit a brick factory, transfer to another villager's house, make spring rolls, eat spring rolls, go fruit picking, cook up a storm of fungus/bean/coconut milk/pomelo sludge that wierdly tasted sweet and hail down a sampan to cart us up the river to a bigger town and a hotel for the night!
Early morning number 3: oh, how i enjoy finding out what life is like a 5.15am in these places! another day, another, another packed agenda. We started the day by hopping aboard another little sampan and chugging right into the middle of all the hustle and bustle of a floating fruit and veg market. They are all so friendly these river folk and we ended up chomping on some freshly cut, juicy pineapple, standing up on the top of one of the big
vendor boats looking out over the sales madness stretching down the river. Another coffee and breakfast session with many a toothless local followed this and then we were whisked off for an education in all things rice...from a rice noodle factory, to a rice mill, to a paddy field - we know it all!
Sadly our 3 day mini-break from western influence and traveller presence came to an end...and we found ourselves resting for our last night in Vietnam in an odd, and most definitely dull, little town near the border with Cambodia, in a room that could only be reached after the bare-foot scaling of 3 floors, an outdoor wrought-iron spiral staircase, and a bit of splashing along a rooftop balcony/walkway...i sense that might be the last time Mobo lets me assess the suitability of a hotel room!
And so...that was Vietnam...i won't launch into our relocation adventure just now - but i will say that we are now settled in Cambodia, Phnom Penh, back among a whole host of waifs, strays and wayward wanderers...
the ubiquitous $1 G&T's are softening the blow though... :)
There are more photos below