Yesterday was almost a full day on the Mekong River and visiting Phoenix Island. Pretty good, brief period of rain and all. We got a good insight into just how much the Vietnamese structure their lifestyle around the land and it's produce. For example, on Phoenix island the coconut trees provide villagers with everything from food and milk, to building materials for houses and boats, medicinal uses, and fertilizer. The same can be said about rice, local fruits (some of which I have never heard of but are delicious!), and the river itself.
Lunch was at a village on the island and it was spectacular - starting with a grumpy looking fried fish presented to us on a stand. Seriously this critter was stuck with a sour look on his face - he was delicious too. Followed by prawns, scallops, and a really good soup.
To top it off we were introduced to the local pet python - I'm not sure what his name was but let's call him Charlie. I really like Charlie. Turns out I have a friendly inclination towards animals of the reptilian nature. He was just cool. I didn't want to let him go - there is even a photo of us having a good ole conversation.
Charlie was followed by a shot of rice wine fermenting in a bottle with a nasty looking relative (cobra) and a scorpion. I still can't believe I drank it but hey... never say never? All in all a great day.
This morning we said our goodbyes to another couple in our group who weren't going on to Cambodia and our guide. I can't say it was as emotional as the farewells in Nepal... but those of us left are keen to move on. A few of us signed up to a tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels to pass the time today. Now that was an experience.
The tour guide was a nutter. Seriously. A local Veitnam veteran he repeated most things several times, constantly reminding us that he was trained in the U.S. Navy, at one point telling us he has family in the U.S., then saying he has no family, then saying he has two children in Vietnam, and finally marketing himself as a single bachelor before promoting a book that he has published somewhere int he U.K. What a character.
I fell in with a few kiwi guys on the bus. Talk about a small world. Turns out I went to primary school with two of them and one of them actually vaguely remembers me. Uncanny. And slightly embarrassing - I was a geek. But it was a great day, we crawled through tunnels that the Viet Cong used during the war in guerilla warfare against the U.S. and had a go shooting rifles. One of the guys spent the cash to shoot an M60 - I think my ears almost blew off and it lasted all of 2 seconds. The tunnels themselves were tiny, I think I was probably the only one in the group that could fit completely into the original ones. The tunnels we actually crawled through had been enlarged slightly for the bigger foreigners that we are. Obviously when I say 'we' I speak for the collective.
And so here I am. Time to head out for some food... and a cool beer with my new-found company.
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