Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Mekong Delta - Part 2

Our beautiful Van Phat 1 hotel prepared a succulent buffet breakfast that I throughly enjoyed. We were still the only group there.  A mix of vietnamese and western breakfast food. Yes I am still blogging about food.
Again, here the coffee already tastes a bit like hazelnut... 
We got to the wharf and took a motorboat to the Cai Rang Floating Market, the biggest in all of the Mekong Delta. At our first approach, 3-4 small boats rushed our way and their passengers stood up with a rope and hook to hold on to our boat. It happened so fast it totally felt like a pirate attack! "Coca Cola? Bottle Water? Coconut? Bananaaaa?" Ah, yes, tourists... That's what they buy.
We're getting close to the Cai Rang Market!
There are multiple floating markets on the Mekong, where local businesses buy wholesale goods (large quantities). If a boat sells watermelon, they will hang one from a tall bamboo stick so people can see from afar. Most of the crazy busy shopping happened around 6-8am. So by the time we got there, yes there were many boats of all sizes scattered all over the river, selling watermelon, bananas, mangos, potatoes, jackfruit, more melon, etc... But not so many people buying & bargaining.
Wattomelooons, potatoooes!
Just as we were leaving the market a speedboat drove past and the waves almost knocked over a poor old lady's tiny row boat. WHOOAAA! And there goes half her stack of fruits, lost to Davie Jone's locker... Apparently the famous Mekong floating markets are getting smaller. They will probably shift gradually towards cleaner, ventilated indoor areas. (Then at least when they drop merchandise it won't sink.)

Our boat took us into more small canals off the main river. There are hundreds of small canals like this, along which people live in stilt houses. If they're lucky, they have a paved path for motorbikes running near their house. Otherwise they get around by rowboat or motorboat!
Martina, our new friend from Finland, observes how this adorable kid in X-Large flip flops will cross this makeshift bridge. If he can do it, you can! 
We stopped by a fruit farm and wandered around the gardens: pineapple, jackfruit, mango, papaya, coconut, banana, lotus flower, dragonfruit, mini-oranges! But it was so hot and sticky out, we just couldn't wait to get back in the boat to feel the tiniest breeze on our faces...
Jackfruits are enormous! 
C'est comme CA qu'ils poussent les dragonfruits!?!?
Me and me Dad on the "monkey bridge".
I had a delicious squid lunch at the hotel, while the parents kept to the more casual food. We took the bumpy bus ride back to Saigon. Thank you The Sinh Tourist for another wonderful, packed, interesting tour!
Thank you for the great trip, Sinh Tourist! It was a VERY good deal.
For a last night in Saigon I decided to take mom & dad to a night market recommended by a fellow traveller.

Actually, funny story... Dad loosened his fake tooth by biting on a coconut candy today. So while we looked for our night market, Dad stopped in front of a random but clean-looking dental clinic and just went in.
"How late are you open?" 
"We are close in 45 minute." 
Dad explained briefly to the very young dentist that his tooth with a crown was falling out and he needed a temporary solution. From behind his mask the young man replied: 
"Is a crown, yes? I can do quick, I put temporary glue ok? Only... 5 minutes. Ok?" 
"How much will it cost?" and under our surprised stare the young dentist said: 
"No no. Free for you, ok? Come."
Cool! That was easier than we expected. Walk-in clinic, free medical care. But finding my night market with tons of open restaurants was not so easy... It was an epic fail. We got a bit lost, walked in circles and never found it. Maybe it just doesn't exist anymore! So we ended up in a small vegan restaurant having meatless hot pot. Meh...

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