Friday, January 9, 2009

It all started in Saigon

What can i say about Vietnam, well to be honest it was not my favourite spot on our trip. it is an intense onslaught on the senses and boy do they know how to get foreigners and milk them for everything. We arrived in Saigon and went to our hostel and spent the first evening wondering around the backpacker's district. It was so strange to see so many foreigners (non-asians) in one place. The sites and sounds and smells were incredible. It is so nice to be somewhere with lots of life in it again. Reminds me how tame Korea is.

In the morning we wondered around for an hour or so and then got out of the city as soon as possible. We hired a taxi to take us to My Tho in the Mekong Delta. The ride was quite interesting, watching thousands of motorbikes trying to compete for space with cars and trucks. We finally arrived and of course were taken straight to a tour place. And after much haggling we decided to do a tour of the mekong for $5 a head. It was definitely well worth it. We got to go to eat some delicious fruit and listen to traditional music on Unicorn island and then went for a canoe ride down one of the small canals. Then we went to a bee farm and got to drink amazing honey tea. After filling up on tea we hopped back on our boat and got taken to a coconut candy workshop. Yummy, there i got to taste coconut and banana candy as well i got to drink snake wine (imagine a huge 10L container filled with dead snakes and ginseng that had liquid floating surrounding it which had been fermented and turned into wine; it sort of tasted like whiskey) and coconut wine. Our final stop was at the temple of the coconut monk, a man who after studying engineer in France returned to Vietnam to eat and drink only coconut and call himself buddha. The temple was pretty wild and very colourful. After a hot day in the sun we returned to My Tho and got ourselves a hotel on the river for only $3 a piece (with a bathroom and a tv) and we took a rest. Once refreshed we wondered around town and found an all vegetarian restaurant which made the most amazing vietnamese noodle soup (the best meal i had in all of vietnam). After dinner we wondered throught the market which reminded me of Tanzania with vendors spread out all over the dirt hill with clothes and shoes and any other random thing you could imagine. After our fill of being stared at there, we wondered on and happened across quite possible the coolest thing ever. An amusement park in the middle of town. Though only a child sized amusement park, it was still fabulous. With a ferris wheel and carousel, a mini drop of doom and a roller skating rink. The games had juice and food as prizes instead of toys and the main stage was holding a bingo game, with the announcer calling numbers in a song to the music blaring out of the speakers. Boy were we a hot ticket here. Katiria, juan and i had all sorts of vietnamese teens coming up to us to tell us how cool our tattoos were and when Karen (originally from the west indies and very black) and i walked beside each other people did not know what to do. Some children were scared, some people stared with their mouths open, others giggled and said hello. I always find it so funny to be the attraction in a place i go to visit. I guess it sort of makes things even though.

The following day we attempted to hop on the bus to Can Tho but of course it had left at 5am. So some very kind and helpful motorbike taxi drivers offered to take us to the main highway. After a very fun ride through small streets past beautiful houses and rice fields we came to a small restaurant on the highway and there we waited for the bus. Naturally this bus driver was a friend of our motorbike driver and wanted more a ridiculous amount of money, playing on our weakness saying it is the only bus until tommorow morning they got us although not for the original price requested. We arrived in Can tho to be followed to our hotel by another woman who was selling tickets for the tour to the floating markets. We didnt actually realize she had followed us until after she left. They are so on it here. So the next morning before sunrise we hopped onto some little boats and cruised out on to the mighty Mekong. The floating markets were well worth the money (i think $9). People traded all sorts of fruits and veg and other things on these cool boats that they actually lived on. They were boat gypsies. I totally want to be a boat gypsy it was so cool. Definitely the best part of Vietnam.

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