Chau Doc, Vietnam

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Flag of Vietnam  , An Giang,
Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Chau Doc,

Once again it is an early morning rise for our group and we walk from our hotel to the river front. Even at this time of the morning there are many people, both locals and tourists on the streets,

One can feel the atmosphere of an exciting city awakening, a city of great importance in the heart of the Mekong. Can Tho - the largest city of the Mekong.

During a short stroll from our hotel along the river front the group pass the towering bronze colour metal statue of Ho Chi Minh, which was so brilliantly floodlight the previous evening. Onwards we walk through the riverside park which last night accommodated many diners enjoying the delightful food of the Mekong.

The tables have now gone and it is a pleasant stroll to where we will board our motor boat.

I am delighted to be welcomed aboard by the husband and wife team that have hosted most of my tour groups of the past when we have visited the famous Cai Rang floating markets.

A light shower of rain falls and we draw the curtains on the motor boat for a short while, but this soon passes and allows our group to get back to clicking away, capturing the busy river life of this area.

We reach the markets where our boat driver navigates our small craft at snail pace, thus allowing the group to capture at extremely close range this marvellous sight through the busy and congested gathering of a variety of shape and size craft.

We pass through the markets and turn for a re-run the other way.

This time though we pull alongside one vessel selling pineapples and some our group climb aboard this market boat to view and photograph the living quarters of this Vietnamese family.

Like most boats here in the markets, the people gather their produce from the farms and travel to the markets, living onboard their vessel until such time as the full payload is sold before returning to the farm once again. We are treated to fresh pineapple sliced into four for a quarter per person.

The pineapples here in Vietnam are smaller and much sweeter than the ones we are familiar with back in Australia.

We leave the markets and whilst travelling back to the wharf, the usually clothing and souvenirs appear from our boat lady and a few of the group make some purchases.

Back at the hotel we enjoy a great breakfast and are amazed at the talent of the chef who without hesitation flips an egg omelette into the air to land neatly upon the plate in his other hand.

Showered and checked out at 9:30am, we are back on the bus headed for Chau Doc, the last town of our stay in Vietnam before entering Cambodia.

A stop along the way enables us to photograph the beautiful Lotus flower, national emblem of Vietnam and used for many purposes including food.

After stopping for lunch at an interesting cabana jutting out over a lotus pond we arrive at Chau Doc at 2:45pm.

Our group board two small motor boats to visit fish farms. In crossing the Mekong we first attempt to capture a throw fishnet caster in action then onto the fish farms. These farms consist of floating homes build upon pontoons of 44 gallon drums anchored to the river bottom. Under each house is suspended large wire cages in which young fish are placed, then fed through the floorboards of the house with homemade blended food until they are of a size for harvesting.

These fish farmers, although not evident, are quite wealthy for their crop of fish under the floorboards can at times contain over 5,000 fish in any one batch.

Our group then negotiates a narrow bamboo walkway from the river to visit a Cham Muslim village that is well known for its weaving of fine cloth. We walk to the local mosque. The children are well versed in attempting to sell cakes and trinkets in this village.

We return to our hotel for dinner and preparation to enter into Cambodia tomorrow.
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