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December 27th 2007
Published: February 7th 2008EDIT THIS ENTRY

The way to travelThe way to travelThe way to travel

Watching the banks go by.

Christmas in Can Tho

Christmas Eve found us leaving Cambodia and heading back into Vietnam. It was a return to the noble Mekong, which calmly carried us down towards the famous delta that so richly supplies Vietnam with its rice, fruit and vegetables.

It was a peaceful journey, passing similar villages to those on the Tonle Sap. We swapped boats at the border, jumping aboard a vessel slung with hammocks. We kicked back and watched it all slip by.

Pressing on by bus to Can Tho, another provincial capital, we were struck by Christmas celebrations as we arrived. Santas hooning about on motorbikes, giant sacks behind them; children everywhere in Santa suits, or wearing special red and white clothes, or simply dressed up in their best clothes. Everyone was out for the night - motorbikes clogged every available scrap of roadway, disregarding light changes and pushing forth like a seething, bio-mechanical virus.

We headed for the heart of it, a carnival in the main square where we found tables of children busy with Christmas crafts (making me nostalgic for my days at the library); dodgem cars that just bumped about a spare square of playground
Christmas craftsChristmas craftsChristmas crafts

A proud little elf with her creation at the Can Tho celebrations.
- no barriers or anything marking the end of the allowable area, just kids randomly crashing into each other in their Power Ranger bumper cars - and rides that wouldn’t even come close to passing any kind of safety test in Australia. We reveled in the unruliness of it all.

Christmas Day was celebrated sans presents, in the luxury of the Victoria Hotel in Can Tho. Embarrassingly we were the only people eating the buffet lunch, and even more embarassingly the staff cleared it all up before we’d finished. We were making the most of it, spacing out the cheese platters, seafood and salads, before hitting the BBQ. To make up for it, they piled our table high with vegetables, breads, cakes, fruit, salads, meat and fish, providing our own mini-buffet and making us look like absolute gluttons. Which, of course, we were.

Boxing Day was spent in an unconventional way for us - taking a tour of the floating markets. I’d read it was more of a tourist attraction that an authentic market these days, but we were pleasantly surprised. A few large tourist boats upset the waters by powering through it all, but we were happily
Christmas DayChristmas DayChristmas Day

Lazing around at the Victoria Hotel after our enormous lunch.
aboard a very much smaller boat, captained by a tiny, nimble, ancient fellow with a dark face deepened by wrinkles, like the pit of a peach.

All manner of produce was available - fruit and veggies, plants (our boatie bought a sweet little shrub from a blind man whose boat was operated by his one-armed wife), meat, containers and baskets - an amazing array. We settled back with our fresh, hot kafes and watched it float past.

On our way back, we passed through smaller and smaller canals, until our boat was suddenly tucked into a little nook on the waterway. A nice surprise to us, we’d arrived at one of the market gardens that supplies the markets. Another cheery little Vietnamese man popped out of the shrubs and proceeded to show us around his farm. After enchanting us with his happy demeanor and colourful descriptions of his fruit and veggies, we sat down to a breakfast of fresh fruit and thick, strong coffee.

It was a short time in the Mekong Delta and while there was a lot more to explore, we had to leave it at that. Kim and Chris had arrived in Ho Chi
Mawt kafe denMawt kafe denMawt kafe den

Espresso to go on the Mekong.
Minh and were en-route to Phu Quoc Island, a day or two behind us through the delta. We were all heading for New Year's Eve on the beach and hanging out to see family.

Additional photos below
Photos: 10, Displayed: 10


On the wayOn the way
On the way

Boats making their way to the market
Floating marketsFloating markets
Floating markets

Vegie and meat vendor.
I am the pumpkin manI am the pumpkin man
I am the pumpkin man

Vendors of fruit and veggies attach their produce to a tall pole for buyers to see what they have on offer.

Duncan and our tiny, nimble, ancient boatman.
Hidden watersHidden waters
Hidden waters

These backwaters of the Mekong hide orchards, homes, restaurants and other secrets.
The cheerful growerThe cheerful grower
The cheerful grower

This happy fellow with no front teeth walked us about his gardens, charming us with rabbits made from petals and letting us sample fruit right from the tree.

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