Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Mekong Delta - Part 1

"The weather out there today is hot and shitty with continued hot and shitty in the afternoon. Tomorrow a chance of continued crappy with a pissy weather front coming down from the north. Basically, it's hotter than a snake's ass in a wagon rut." (Good Morning Vietnam)
Indeed. Today we explore the Mekong Delta with The Sinh Tourist. 2h bus to Ben Tre Province where the Mekong has been buzzing with life for thousands of years. We got on a motorboat in Ben Tre, on the wide, brown Mekong and turned into a smaller branch, with lush forest all around.
Me and the 'rents on a boat in the Mekong.
We stopped at a small house where we got to taste local honey and fruits. And buy souvenirs of course.
Can't remember how we call this strange alien fruit. It's a bit like lychee ínside. 
After the succulent fruit tasting we got a performance of live local singing and music which I can't wait to show you on video. But I won't upload video because the connection is crap.
Theỉr traditional singing is just so so so different! Lots of high-pitch, nasal tunes. But in a good way.
Instead of getting in the boat again we were seated in small rowing canoes which they call a xuong. It was magical. And it was a good break from always hearing the loud motor. Most of the locals rowing the boats were women. They look old and delicate but they are so strong! That's how they travel most of the time.
Rowing along the quiet Mekong canal, listening to the cicadas.
Julie contente. 
A lovely, elegant local saying thank you and good bye.
We then stopped at a coconut farm where they make dried coconut shreds (delicious), coconut candy and many other coconut based snacks. They boil the coconut water until it thickens, then they spread it in strips to harden and cut them in small pieces.
Young gỉrls working hard despite the humid heat.
Coconut Candy! Don't eat that ìf you have a fake tooth, right Dad?
Also there happened to be a snake.
Finally after a delicious farm lunch with chicken, grilled fish, morning glory, pork stew, veggies we headed towards Can Tho (more boat, more bus, I think I slept through the bumpy ride...)
Two Chinese dudes who really wanted a photo with me. Happens ALL the time.
Part of the organized 2-day trip included our 1 night at the Van Phat 1 Hotel, a four star fancy hotel outside the Can Tho city centre. It's a good thing that our group came, because this huge, brand new, beautiful, four-star, refreshing, the hotel was eerily empty when we arrived... Weỉrd.There is a huge, clean swimming pool, a giant banquet hall on the main floor, empty. Another empty dining room on the 7th floor, from where you can get a great view of the sunset over Can Tho or the sunrise over the Mekong.

There was a beautiful eating area outside, with rooftops, a cute pond surrounded by trees and little lights.. . In fact I don't know why it was so empty! We ended up having a sumptuous dinner there.  
It's a shame the hotel & restaurant were so empty. Look at that!
After dinner "went to town" to see the Can Tho night market. We just sat with a beer on a patio and observed the crowds: Sooo many young people with motorbikes, just hanging out late. Some of them are dressed so posh for 32 degree sticky heat! Well... if I lived in a small, dark, damp, even hotter, miserable home (which many of them do) I would also hang out as late as I can. It's really the cheapest stuff here because it's the locals who shop here. Lots of t-shírts with Chinglísh (gibberísh that makes no sense).
Joelle, I was going to buy thís for my nephew Leo but I don't want him to become illiterate.
Finally after a long, tiring day, my mother and I went to the 6th floor for a cheap massage. Lady? Sir? Looking for massage? Well, for 120,000 dong ($6.00) Van Phat 1 Hotel has unexperienced young "massotherapists" who sit on you, give an awkward, improvised massage, who test the limit until you say "Heyo! Hands off!" and dress like they offer other things, if you ask for the massage with a happy ending. Whatever makes you happy!

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