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Published: August 9th 2015
Day 21 - "Crocodile teeth" floating market, crocodile restaurant, Cham people and Chau Doc
I had a rough night last night! Very difficult getting comfortable due to neck and arm pain. Covered the muscles in tiger balm, eventually, fell asleep!
It was a 6am start, breakfast, and out, leaving our baggage for the driver to pick up. He will meet with us later.
Hoang was already in the breakfast room when we got there. It was a quick breakfast and off on foot, to the dock. We are going to the floating river market. Houng relays another story about yet another strong man, he fought a huge crocodile, hence, this is now called crocodile market.
Everything that sells, or that is a need point, has a floating version. The floating petrol station is a strange one though, we actually stopped to fill up, with the engine running!
There are many tourists waiting to get on the boats, yet again, we breeze through to our own private boat! It is the same size as all the other boats, but with only us two on it! I am guessing that we may be a bit of a sales target
at the market as we appear like two well off westerners! Lol
Well no, it just wasn't like that! This floating market was all fruit and veg being sold to locals. In order to identify what each boat is selling, they hoist up a sample of their wares on a mast! This is because they do not all read and write, but they certainly can count money!
We sail through the market to a rice noodle factory. The word "factory" is being used very loosely here!
They use 70% rice flour, mixed with 30% tapioca flour to steam cook a large disc of what looks like rice paper. It is the dried in the sun before being moved to the shredding area.
Again, I could not participate, but Helen had a cracking go at moving the wet disc from the steamer to the drying rack, then later in the process, she fed the shredder perfectly!
We moved on to look at a monkey bridge, something I could I! I know I have only one arm, but both feet are good! I am wearing my Vibram trainers, so also have Spider-Man foot grip!
to our boat, buying a home-brewed herbal tea made of bread fruit leaves and seaweed. Bread fruit is another new one for me!
It was explained to us that the boats all have two eyes on the front. If the eyes are looking up; thIs means that this person is keen to do good, big business; if the eyes are straight ahead, this person is ready do fair business, and if the eyes are looking down, they are friendly, but want only small business.
The route back was differen to the way we went out. We returned through a village lined mangrove, full of life and activity.
We get off at a fruit stop, again, more fruits to taste and recognise; we are improving! I tried a jackfruit and durian cross. I currently can't smell anything due toy blocked sinuses, which I think was a good thing,but it actually tasted nice, even if the texture was a bit squishy! We had guava, papaya, pineapple, and hack fruit.
We walked around the various crops, seeing some we recognised, and learning more new ones. We were introduced to a monkey bridge, not easy to walk over, but we
both managed it!
Back onto the boat to be returned to the car. We are now going to Chau Doc. We are visiting one of the 54 ethnic minority groups - Cham people. This group follow Islam, therefore are Muslim.
Helen ate a custard apple in the car. It looked like more hassle than it was worth! A bit like the effort that goes into eating a pomegranate, it's just not worth the hassle!
It's a really rough road to the next stop. There are lots of roadworks, it's killing me! We finally stop after about an hour and a half for lunch. I felt more sick with pain, than hungry at this point!
We are at a crocodile farm; Ca Sau, at Long Xuygen. Guess what's on the menu! Yes, our first try of crocodile ! We selected the crocodile spring rolls. It came in so many variations, it was a difficult choice!
I thought it tasted rather like beef, Helen thought pork, the girl told us chicken! We had it with iced vegetable noodles. To be honest, it wasn't a bad meal at all, considering I didn't think I was hungry!
the meal we went for a walk around the crocodile farm. They are bred here for eating, and reproducing. We crossed over a little bridge with so many beautiful fish in the lake. We could smell the crocodiles before seeing them! There were lots of pens with crocodiles of various ages in them. The older they get, the more ugly they become!
After a good look around, we return to the car for the final leg of the tour.
We are now on the way to get another private boat that will take us back into the higher Mekong to see the floating village. The river is wider at this point.
The boatman stops at one of the platoons where we get off. The owner of the platoon, floating house/business shows us the fish that he is growing underneath the platoon. Oh my goodness, it's amazing! There are so many of them, there is barely enough room for them to actually swim! He threw the feed in..... It was like having a shower, they went crazy, splashing over each other to get to the food. Amazing! We walked across a couple of platoons, seeing the washing, storage
snd garden areas. They are so self sufficient, even floating on the water!
They appear to be poor, but this is not the case at all, they live like this for their business.
We go back to the boat; the next stop is to go to the town of the Cham people. The Cham people are all Muslim, living peacefully in Chou Dic (An Giang) since the 18th century. They live in stilted houses to avoid flooding, but we were shown a pole which had yearly markings of the flood levels that went about 12 feet high, above the first level of the houses.
We returned by boat to our car which brought us back into Chou Doc. We have a couple of Pagodas and Temples to see, but to be honest, both of us are fading fast! We looked, but struggled to raise our enthusiasm.... To even a quarter of the enthusiasm that Huong had about her religion! I felt a bit guilty, but it couldn't be helped at this stage!
We saw the Buddah that has her dress changed on a yearly basis, Helen and I couldn't keep a straight face at this point,
we daren't look at each other. We had listened to all the stories about this amazing silk dress, I swear.... It was nylon! ..... And people spend a fortune buying the Buddha these huge, expensive dresses.... That they then store in many glass cages, as she only changes once a year.... I couldn't get my head around it!
By this time, we just wanted to be in the hotel, getting a shower, and relaxing!
Finally, we were done, back in the car, and off to our hotel. I am soooo ready to do nothing tonight!
We managed doing nothing for about 15 minutes... We decided to go out for coffee and ice-cream.... Then go nothing!
It's a plan!
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