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Published: March 4th 2018
Yesterday we (Ms Ha, Ms Thanh and Ms Li) visited the orchards on An Binh island. To get there we hopped on motor scooters then on to the ferry across the river and then got lost in the maze of footpath- sized tracks on the island; wide enough (just) for two scooters to pass while kissing brake levers. We did get lost. Ms Thanh wasn't sure so we meandered our way through dusty trails alongside muddy drainage ditches, over rickety bridges, past small roadside stalls selling drinks, food, stuff; past bigger settlements with stray dogs and children holding up progress. Finally, we cruised past a disreputable looking bloke lounging on his scooter who shouted something at Ms Thanh which she ignored; 200 metres later he burst up alongside us and started jabbering to her, gesticulating, going off a bit until they must have agreed something because he then led us on a snakes and ladders journey to the orchard - for payment of course.
The orchards are family run and grow rambutans. Also know as hairy cherries.
For a small fee one can take a specially cut pole, with a split in one end, reach up into the tree,
notch a twig of fruit in the split , twist and break the twig of fruit off. Which we proceeded to do and then eat. They taste a bit like and look like a lychee. Tasty. Then I was told I had to try a Star Apple, which tastes like milk.
We rolled the fruit around in our hands to soften it then cut it and spooned out the flesh. Definetly reminiscent of milk.
And then it was back on the scooters and home. We passed a group of pakeha cyclists going the other way on an organised tour. The Mekong has many of these trips operating where you spend the night at a b'n'b and experience the local culture. There was also a western couple on the homeward bound ferry so "I was not alone".
I waged war with mosquitos that night and lost. After being warned by my Doctor back home about the deadly bloody things - Dengue Fever, Japanese Encephalitis etc I was aiming to have a bite free 5 weeks but I'm already a few bites in the red. Hoping they are not the serious ones but... in light of my failure
to defend myself at 1.00am, 3.00am and 4.30am I've decided to buy a mosquito net.
Today the open air market was on the agenda along with my first ride on the bike and a visit to a Ca Phe (coffee bar).
Bike ride - check. Stayed upright, negotiated intersections, rode on the wrong side of the road, got told off for riding where I shouldn't, enjoyed the breeze but dripped like a drain when I finished; success!
Market - 100's of stalls, selling whatever, dusty, noisy, friendly, indecipherable, hard sell if you stopped and looked and the mental calculation of price went up 300% when the skin colour was seen; bought nothing this time.
Coffee shop - done. Hot coffee in a glass with a pretty 8mm layer of condensed milk. Sweet and warm.
Classes tonight (Sunday is the busiest day) were not great. They are not organised very well to my mind (as the teacher) and I found them unsatisfactory for me and the kids. The managers and I are going to discuss it.
So, nearly one week down which is good because I've almost experienced all the classes I'm going
to have and can see where I need to do things differently.
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