The Mekong Delta
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Day 22 of G
We visited the breakfast buffet again this morning. I am running out of gas to try some of the different dishes. The hundred year old eggs will have to wait until another day. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe never. There was no flan today so all I had was fruit.
We were on the bus by 8. It is a two hour plus ride to the Mekong Delta. We had one break at a very pretty rest stop where they had real ice cream! Unfortunately it looked better than it tasted. I had two small scoops, chocolate and coconut, for 25,000 dong. The WC had signs requesting that we throw our toilet paper in the bins not the toilets. Back to that again.
Jeff came up with another dong joke. His dong won't be any good anymore once we leave Vietnam. Don't worry, after tomorrow the dong jokes wil be over. That makes me quite sad.
The Mekong Delta is up to 3 km wide and the river is just under 5000 km long. The delta comprises over 40,000 square kilometers.
Ten minutes after the rest stop we arrived at the boat (or Burt) pickup. We had a private tourist boat and guide. Our first stop was Unicorn Island where the guide showed us all sorts of different fruits and fruit trees. Then we had a sampling of five different fruits and a tea break.We were entertained with a performance by a Vietnamese musical group. There were three different women vocalists and four instrumentalists playing uniquely Vietnamese instruments. This time Jeff did not buy a CD.
We returned to the boat and rode over to Coconut Island. We toured a coconut candy making factory and then a coconut rice paper area. No part of the coconut is wasted. We were told that fact over and over. The coconut here is the ultimate example of recycling.
Of course there were stands to buy things everywhere and I do mean everywhere. At one point we posed for photos with a reticulated python. It was pretty large and heavy, too large for our guide to pick up. I'm guessing it weighed maybe a hundred pounds or so. They can grow to 6 meters in length and weigh up to 200 kilos.
We then piled into three pony carts to take us to a different area. They were very tiny ponies and they seemed to be treated a little bit harshly.
Our next stop was at the beehives and we had a honey, kumquat and tea break. Of course everything, again, is available for purchase. Next up were sampan boat rides down a very nice little canal. They are very wobbly little boats that seat a maximum of four people and would be very easy to tip over. They look kind of like a very low riding cross between a canoe and a rowboat. Unfortunately that was the end of our "Vietnamese Universal Studios tour" experience. To get back to our boat we had to climb out of the Sampans and walk over four other boats.
Next we went to a whole new island for lunch. We split the group over two tables. Kelly and I were the only ones at our table to order the set menu. 120,000 dong for elephant fish spring rolls, chicken noodle soup, a Vietnamese omelet type pancake, fried rice and coconut rice paper for desert. The fish was presented very dramatically as a whole crispy fish set in a stand vertically so that it appeared to be swimming.
Jon just had chicken fried rice which cost him the same price as the set menu would have. We had tons of food left over and couldn't find any human takers so we fed a bunch of the leftovers to an obviously nursing mama dog. She was very polite and waited patiently for whatever we felt like giving her. She did pick the noodles and veggies out of the spring rolls so that she didn't have to eat them. I think that the rice was her favorite. Ray must not be feeling well because he skipped lunch entirely.
We saw one of the mama dogs pups as we were leaving. Very small, very cute and very polite. Mama's doing a good job. Of course I had to take photos of it. You would think I've seen enough puppies in my day.
What is this with the no napkin bit?
Our itinerary says that we will see the floating market but it doesn't look like that is really on the agenda. Too bad. I really did want to see one at some point on this trip.
We took the boat back to the station and got back on the bus. Chris had a bit of a bouncing boob back of the bus problem. Rapidly the bus turned into one big snooze-fest.
We had a few hours without group activities. It was nice to just be alone and still.
The Aussie girls and their friend Gabby met us at our hotel to go out for dinner. Andrew took us to a semi-fancy Indian restaurant. Jeff, Chris and Kelly took one look and high tailed it to Pizza Hut which they all greatly enjoyed. I liked the Indian food. The garlic nan wasn't very garlicky but it was good. My vegetable curry was nice and Rays lemon rice was outstanding. He seems to have recovered his appetite.
Jeff and I met back at the hotel for an early night and some pre-packing for our long bus ride into Cambodia tomorrow.