Edit Blog Post
Published: March 7th 2018
Hot and sticky. Have I said that before? I'll probably say it again many times. The good news is that I have fully functional sweat glands. So, with that out of the way I'll recap my last couple of days.
I discovered this week that there are no bars in Vinh Long. I asked Ms Tam if there was somewhere I could go to have a beer and watch the world go by. She asked, "You mean a bar?" According to her there aren't any in Vinh Long. She said it's not like Saigon. No,it isn't. Oh well. I found a boat restaurant today which serves bia on their top deck so I was able to sit out in the setting sun with a cold Saigon Special and watch the boats on the Mekong. Not too much wrong with that.
Ms Thanh our office assistant has asked me to teach her English, which she has a smattering of. We started a couple of days ago at 7.30 in the morning for half an hour each day. Yesterday she said she would like to take me out on the back of her motor scooter to a Vinh Long
landmark - the My Thuan bridge so that I could photograph the sunset. Ms Tam explained to me that Ms Thanh feels indebted to me for helping her so she will do things like this to repay me. We travelled about 10k's, amongst the crazy traffic at that hour, to the top of the bridge where there are no parking areas. She stopped anyway and with traffic screaming past us we left the bike on the side of the road, hopped over the barrier and took photos. Then she went across the bridge and we came back and did the same on the other side. Unfortunately it was too cloudy for a great sunset but I appreciated the gesture and the ride on the back of the bike was eye opening. The bridge is quite a landmark It was built by Australian interests, finished in 2000 and is obviously something of pride to the locals.
The Mekong River totally dominates the landscape here; Vinh Long sits on the delta and river traffic serves the city through the river's many tributaries. Barges, boats, tugs, river cruise boats, ferrys, dugouts with outboards are constantly criscrossing and heading up or down. So
today I booked a half day trip up the river to a floating market and some other things. We left at 8.00 and I was the only passenger on a boat built for at least fifteen. That was a disappointment because I was hoping to have conversation with other aliens. My driver didn't speak English and my 10 word Vietnamese vocab didn't help much so it was a quiet trip but pleasant as we cruised up among the other boats and small ships. The Mekong is wide and fast flowing here and very muddy brown. I was reminded of the words in one of Kipling's Just So stories - "the great, grey-green, greasy Limpopo River..." but instead it would have to be, the colossal, chocolate, coffee, cocoa-coloured mighty Mekong.
The floating market was....well, only just a market. Maybe 6 to 10 boats rafted up and virtually no action taking place. Rather over sold I thought. Then we carried on to a souvenir type of place where we watched traditional Viet sweets being made and over-priced nick nacks were on show for us (there was a large group of westerners in there but they only spoke French) to buy.
That was followed by a trip in a dugout propelled by a chap pushing two oars standing on the stern of the wee craft. This meandered through narrow off shoots of the Mekong only a few metres wide and within touching distance of the small dwellings on the banks. I was going to call them houses but they are not houses in the sense we know at home. Some are relatively sold looking but many are seemingly thrown together from whatever materials have been handy while others appear to be slowly sinking into the river as they are built on poles out over the water. Then on to my big boat and a visit to a river-side homestay that tour groups fetch up in on overnight stays. I was there only for a drink and a snack with a bike ride thrown in if I wanted it. I tried riding the bike but it was midday and so hot I got only half a kilometre before I turned around and headed back to the starting point where I felt I had to have another Saigon Special bia :-)
We arrived back at Vinh Long after 5 hours of interesting
sights and smells.
Tot: 3.502s; Tpl: 0.044s; cc: 11; qc: 56; dbt: 0.0411s; 3; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb