Wednesday, September 7, 2011

All change....

We had a trip booked away from Saigon for the night – We were picked up at 7.15am and put on a boat heading about 90km south, to the Mekong Delta. We did notice a strange sign that we think should have said you get a free – Coke and Lime'. But actually said 'Coke line' – hmmm, you never know around here, but it was one of the best bad translations we have seen!
The boat took us all the way to where the Mekong River, that we followed through Laos and Cambodia, meets with a group of Islands and other rivers before hitting the ocean. Our boat didn’t have a good start though, as within 5 minutes one of the drivers was in the toilet getting his swimming kit on so he could jump into the river and get off whatever was caught around the propeller.

Once it was fixed we continued and made the Delta by 10.30am. First stop was Unicorn Island, where we saw no unicorns, but did see a load of dogs, some bees in a few hives and we tasted their honey, in a honey and lemon tea (Reminded me of having a cold as a child!) I also made friends with a big fish as well as saving two bees from drowning in their own honey flavoured tea.

After yet another boat trip through the tight coconut canals, we visited a coconut sweet making factory, where all sorts of chewy sweets are made. The sweets were nice, but there was also a big snake in a cage that you could handle and play with that was much more fun.

saved a drowning bee

made friends with a fish

the hive

look varefully at the inclusions

Lunch was on another island and was OK apart from there being no edible meat on the chicken and it had the 'strange' smell that makes me nearly hurl when I smell it in the street, which I do a lot. Its the one big thing that I don’t like about Asia – the smell of dodgy cooked meat. I ate the rice and vegetables though and they were lovely with a little chilli sauce on. Some of the group tried a really strange looking 'elephant eared fish', that looks good in a photo, but even though I love fish, didn’t appeal to me!

We continued onwards and visited an orchard, where we listened to a few traditional songs sung by the locals, and also noticed a sink in a tree. I also got a massive spider jumping on me out of a urinal, but I have no idea where it went after that. I told Tao, our guide and he was a little scared as he thinks it was probably dangerous – he even threw a load of water on the floor to try and locate it. We then had one last boat trip to the city across the river, where we were loaded aboard a bus for a 2 hour drive to our hotel for the night. All in all a busy but an interesting day.

The hotel was not bad for the price we paid for the whole trip. Air-con and a TV, in a small square clean room, but with no decoration or furniture. We slept OK though and set an alarm for 6.30am, as we were supposed to be back on the bus by 7.15.

However, we were woken at 6.15 by a receptionist coming around banging the doors and shouting – 'Morning'. Bloody hell! It was time to get up though and after packing we went out to the bus, as told by 7.15. We waited and no one else was there – it turned out that the guide had overslept and was 20 minutes late. Doh! We then spent the morning looking around a floating market – where wholesale fruits and vegetables are bought and passed from boat to boat in the middle of the Mekong river. Then a rice noodle factory was followed by a rice factory, both were interesting, especially the rice factory which had more spider webs than I have seen in a while, but not all that enthralling, so we spent most of the time taking the piss out of our fellow travellers and wondering who they looked like – We had a Rick Gervais body builder as well as a two Spanish women who reminded us of the pisshead women from Absolutely Fabulous.

Lunch followed in a nice Italian café, where outside a couple of old Vietnamese women had a slanging match over who who owned the pavement – One had her fruit for sale where the other wanted to push her moped – we laughed along with the girls in the café as they listened to the argument get louder and louder. It was a really nice lunch though.

All that was left was to meet back at the hotel and get on the bus for the journey back to Saigon. It was a good bus trip, with a nice stop at a road side café with a really nice garden, complete with an island in the middle of a large pond.

Back in Saigon, we moved back into the hotel and were pleasantly surprised to be given a suite for the night, complete with great views over the city from the 9th floor. In the evening we went out and had dinner, followed by a very expensive beer in et 5th floor rooftop bar of the Rex Hotel, overlooking the square and opera house, where Top Gear started their motorcycle trip from when they rode through Vietnam.

The next day was a lazy day – a lie in, lunch and then laundry – I need a day off every now and then. In the evening though, I went to the airport with Nikki. She is going home after being away for over a year and so I went to the airport with her in the fastest taxi in town, with the maddest driver who kept laughing and shouting – 'mad, its all mad', as he sped past bikes, cars and trucks – he was the mad one!! 

floaty market

rice factory

on the boat

saigon at night

view from the rex hotel rooftop bar

I waved Nikki off and then went to get the cheap bus back to town, but after sitting on an empty bus for a few minutes, the driver turned up, told me 'No bus', and I got back off only to watch a couple of minute later as a couple of women got on and the bus drove off. I then got another taxi and had a bit of a discussion wit the driver about the cost, before finally getting dropped off in the centre of town. He told me it would cost 200,000 and take 40 minutes, but in the end it only took 15 minutes and cost 100,000 – under £3.

Today its all change – after one nice evening on my own, I go to the bus station after lunch and meet Buffy, who is on her way down fro Cambodia, then after a couple of days here, we start on our way back up through Vietnam, going over some places I have been already and visiting others for the first time. Its going to be good to see Buffy again and I cant wait to get started!

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