Mekong Delta boat trip

Trip Start Jan 06, 2007
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Trip End Jul 29, 2007


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Saturday, May 12, 2007

While in Saigon, we booked a 3 day tour round the Mekong Delta through a smaller company and were stoked we chose this company as the three day adventure down the Mekong was fantastic!  Our guide was a 60 year old Vietnamese man who spoke English very well and was super enthusiastic the entire time.  He even sang us songs that were so out of key it made it hard to keep a straight face, but always gave him the credit he deserved.  Our first day was eventful taking a 2 hour bus trip from Saigon the My Tho city where we caught a motorized boat to Seahorse Island. Here we observed some of the daily tasks of the local villagers and even took a row boat down a narrow canal.  We jumped back on our boat to have some lunch on another nearby island before checking out the coconut candy factory (super good).  At this stop we had the opportunity to try some traditional honey and honey wine while listening to live traditional Vietnamese music.  That first night we stayed in Can Tho city and had an early one as we were exhausted from our busy day.
Our second day we got up early  in order to catch the boat which took us to Cai Rang and Phong Dien floating markets, which are two famous markets on the Mekong Delta.  We cruised through this lively market and even stopped to buy a fresh pineapple off one of the boats.  After the markets, we rode over to a rice noodle factory where we learnt how rice noodles were made - pretty cool stuff, they almost made it look easy.  Once we were noodled out we headed for the rice husking factory.  It's amazing to think how many local farmers come to this one place to get their rice husked.  Were beginning to notice that everything in Vietnam is becoming privately owned, so much for communism being all bad eh!!  After lunch we headed to Chau Doc. On our way we stopped at a Crocodile breeding farm, which we later found out was mainly running due to the Chinese demand of crocodile leather.  The worst part of the visit were the two random black bears who were living in a tiny cage.  As we approached the cave, they immediately ran up towards the cage and were more than happy to stick their snouts and paws out for any sort of attention.  It was kind of crazy because neither of us have been that close to a bear before. It was weird petting these creatures knowing what it could do to us with its razor sharp claws.  They were so sad looking it made our stomachs churn to hear that they were used for Chinese medicine, and often had their bile removed in order to support this cruel market.  We were glad to get out of that unethical place as fast as possible.  Our ride to Chau Doc took another 2 hours leaving us just enough time to climb Sam Mountain and attempt to watch the sunset. Although it was quite overcast, it made it difficult to see much of the sunset.  The endless rice paddy fields were an amazing sight to see and the temples at the top were pretty cool.
Day three of our tour started with us saying goodbye to a few people in our group and welcoming a few others who had joined.  We took a boat at 7am to visit a floating fish farm and had the opportunity to feed a million fish. Watching the feeding frenzy was pretty amazing.  After the fish farm, we took a boat ride to a Cham minority village.  The Cham people here in Vietnam originated from Malaysia and have been in Vietnam for several centuries.  The people that live here are mainly Muslim and speak 3 languages, Arabic, Vietnamese and their own Cham dialect.  We got to watch a young girl weave a scarf on a loom and played a hacky sack- type game with a few of the village boys.  We said goodbye to the villagers managing to dodge a few kids who were begging, and were soon on our way to the Cambodia/Vietnam boarder by boat. At the boarder it was stifling hot and the ride started off quite normal, we all mingled with each other, got our passports stamped at the crossing, wandered around the small village playing with a few kids along the way and were back on our boat.  Soon after we jumped back on our boat and were in Cambodia waters, the weather turned out for the worst.  A thick cover of clouds drifted in and soon after our boat was battling some seriously bad weather.  Our group scurried around the boat trying to seek refuge from the water that poured into our boat while our driver was trying drive through a wall of rain that would only allow him to see a few meters in front of him.  In pursuits of lighting up the mood a bit, we all cracked a few beers, blocked all the windows with roll down tarps, and enjoyed the hectic ride to shore so we could wait the storm out.  When we drifted into shore, we could all enjoy the storm and Shaun even jumped off the boat into the Mekong for a quick dip, which amazingly enough was well above air temperature.  An hour later we were back en route, putting to our drop off point where our bus picked us up to take us to Phnom Penh.  We only stayed the night in the capitol city as we wanted to head south to Kampot the next day.
 
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