A Very Strange Tour Indeed...
So we got on another bus... from HCMC and headed for Cambodia via the Mekong Delta enjoying some weird and wonderful stops along the way. It was almost as if the people running the tour were just making it up as they went along.
Tea tasting, snake holding, 15 minutes on a pushbike, a floating market we didn't stop at and some dodgy singing followed by a crocodile farm and a 7 hour boat ride to the Cambodian border...
Our first stop was at a coconut candy factory we had to get to on a boat, a bit of a scary boat really considering the weather. Coconut candy or caramel is amazing stuff, I totally love it and even bought a big bag of it the second time I went to Thailand to take with me to australia but it fell into my mouth while in Hong Kong and didn't even make the runway. Anyway, the women making it were like machines, in fact I don't think you could have gotten a machine to work as fast as they were, esp the ones wrapping the sweets seperatly in paper, it was astounding. I took some video it was so unbelievable. After that we got back onto the boat for a short while and taken to a tropical fruit farm where we were given 5 different fruits then told in which order we were to eat them in always starting with dragon fruit and ending with bananas with pineapple, melon and things that look like a cross between a lychee and an eyeball inbetween, we also got some local tea to drink then hurried off to the next 'must see' which was the same tea but drank with honey and lemon. This was where they got the python out for anyone to hold then the guy that gave us it disappeared leaving us with the snake. A family then rocked up and started singing, I have to say the music was great but the singing was terrible. We were then whipped away and put on 2 smaller boats for a ride up the canal. That's all it was, a canal with trees on either side, up the canal, down the canal and off the boat again onto the big boat for all of us - bizarre. We were supposed to be getting on very small rowing boats after that and taken up another canal but the weather turned nasty and we had to stay on the big boat and pray we didn't overturn in the Mekong River never to be seen again, it was a bit scary.
Lunchtime hurrah!! it had been ordered for us and cooked about 3 days ago then heated up using warm dog breath but first, you could get on an old bike and have a cycle round for 15 mins in the muck. I went for a walk instead and came across two young girls who tried to sell me a manky bit of honeycomb which looked like it had maggots wiggling about in it. Try it they said, eh no thanks, only 1 dollar they said, eh no thanks, but I need money to go to school, and to eat, eh eat the honey then and by the looks of your mate, no one's starving round here... lunch wasn't too bad really. We were then hearded off to the boat again and sailed passed a funny looking building which after asking our guide about it were told it was built by a mad man so that people would notice him. Seemed to have worked. Back onto the bus and dropped off at a hotel. Alex and I were spending our first night with a local family on the Mekong River itself so when a bloke and his mate turned up on two motorbikes we were told to go with them and come back to the hotel for 6am the next day. We were taken down dark alleys, across bridges, down windy roads and far far away from civilisation. I kept looking back to make sure Alex was behind me. Finally we got to the house. It was really big and right on the river. The family were very nice and thankfully spoke a bit of english. We saw loads of fireflies which was brilliant, they all sit around one tree, I can't remember the type of tree. Dinner was a very tasty elephant fish in 'make your own' fresh spring rolls, it was lush. You get your rice paper and put some rice noodles on it then lettuce, cucumber, cabbage and some of the fish then roll it up and dip it in fish sauce with lemon and chilli - lush. In the morning we were taken to a watermelon field. I can't tell you much more than that cos when we got there, our host said 'watermelons' and pointed then pointing into the distance said 'rice field' then we were escorted back to the house, got our stuff together and got taken by motorbike back to the hotel where we were herded to the riverside with the rest of the tour group and put on a boat to see the floating market. It was a proper market, not like the one in Bangkok but we didn't stop, we just sailed through it then turned round and went back through it then off to a wee house to see how rice roodles are made. The woman there gave me a sweet potato to eat and her husband gave me a starfruit from the tree in the garden which I gave to a wee girl nearby more cos it wasn't quite ripe and I didn't want to chuck it, than out of sheer niceness. Is that even a real word?
Back to the hotel again for lunch in the place next door. Some people had snake, others had deep fried rat, Alex and I went for fruit and yogurt. Some of the group went back to Saigon while the rest of us got back on the bus and taken to the next hotel via a crocodile farm of course. It was pretty cool, loads of crocs in there which were taken to different places for food and handbags mostly. Apparently it tastes like fish but has the texture of chicken. I haven't tried it yet. Onto the hotel which was ok and street food for dinner which was lush. We got up super early again and put onto another boat with a woman and we said goodbye to our tour guide who went back to Saigon with more of the group. The woman made us stop at a fish farm which was really just a house over water with a hole in the veranda which if you threw pellets into the fish came up to feed, not very exciting. The boat we were on was tiny, had no loo and if you didn't get on and sit on opposite sides of the boat in turn then it felt like it was going to capsize, I personally hated it. We then went to a floating village and taken to a house where you could buy things. There was a wee boy there playing with twi irons, not plugged in thankfully but he seemed to be enjoying it. Last cance for the loo and we had to get back on the teenie wee boat for 3 hours to the border with cambodia. The woman who took our passports got off the boat and zoomed off on a motorbike saying she'd meet up with us later. It's amazing who you trust with your passport after a while. Thankfully she kept her word and met us at the border bit where we waited for an hour before being put on another boat (a bigger one) which was loud and smelly but sold drinks and pringles and transported us to Cambodia. It only took about 5 hours... Cabin fever had almost set in when we finally came ashore.
Next stop Phnom Pehn