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Published: August 6th 2007
After passing the Perfume Pagoda - we're still not sure exactly what it is- we walked up thousands of steep mud coated steps swarming with Buddhist pilgrims to a sacred cave near the top of a mountain. After a few hours of incessant evading of gaudy glittery bauble sellers, we were dying for a bit of piece and quiet. Not possible. There would have been well over 20,000 people on the river and on their way to and from the cave. Everyone has to get there by rowboat, so there are hundreds and hundreds of little boats vying for their place on the river. It's mainly women who work on their biceps, while the men sit down for an easy ride. Typical male behaviour huh! Most of the women rowing the boats are wives, daughters or mothers of martyrs killed in the war and are paid 25,000 dong (just under $2) every week regardless of how much business they get.
The boat ride is definitely the most interesting part - it's a bit of a two-way zoo with the tourists staring at the Vietnamese people and the Vietnamese people staring right back! They're all very friendly, smiling and waving as
you pass, and children often shout out cheekily.
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