Howdy! I got back from the Mekong last night, and it was an interesting trip. The area itself is nice to see, but the tour was not the best, so haven’t decided if I’d recommend it. But I’m also not sure if you could see all that we did on your own.
They’ve really set up this perfectly planned tour, where you go from one stop to the next to see things, but that’s about it. You see it, check it off, and go. I personally like to explore and experience places. Plus we were sitting on a boat most of the time, so I was getting a little restless (even though I woke up very early both days to get some exercise in).
Nonetheless, they did try to show us some neat cultural stuff. I don’t have much factual knowledge because the other downside of our tour was that our guide really didn’t know much. He entertained, for sure, but when it came to explaining things, somehow he didn’t know the English for it (though he mentioned over and over how he studied at the university and can speak very well).
My Tho is a few hours south of Saigon. We drove through the town, which doesn’t have much to see, and then took motorized tour boats across the Mekong river to visit several of the islands. I thought we’d walk around the islands, but this is where the one-stop-tour came in. See how coconut candy is made, taste some honey milk (which is what the bees give the queen and is really good for your skin), meet the pet snake, eat some fresh fruits. I think one of the specialities of the Mekong are the fruits, and they were delicious. Everywhere we walked there were guava, pomelo, papaya, dragonfruit, pineapple, and kumquat trees. It smelled wonderful!
To get to the other islands, we went on a paddle boat “cruise”. I say cruise because it was two people (usually elderly) paddling four us along. DBers: I was dead weight! I almost wanted to ask to try, since the stroke was essentially the same, but it did look like it required some careful balancing with the Asian squat.
Can Tho is an additional few hours away, and this was more of of a water village. We went through the floating market, which is boats on a river selling produce to each other. A few were ready for the tour boats and pulled up next to us. I felt like I was in Water World or something. We went around by boat a lot, visiting places here and there, like how they make rice paper, rice, pig and fruit farms, and snack spots (they must think Westerners are always hungry). By the end, I was happy to be off the boats.
It’s different travelling by yourself. I had a unique, uncomfortable experience with our tour guide who just didn’t seem to get the hint that I was married, and even if I weren’t, that I was not interested. Eventually, after he stepped over the boundaries one too many times (in a harmless but annoying way), I had to give him a telling. But besides that, being alone also made me curious about and friendly to the others in my group. In the end, I made some new Facebook friends. One woman had been travelling for a year, mainly in China but also other parts in Asia, and ending her tour in Vietnam, which she loved the most. She returned to California today; I wonder how it went for her! Another girl just arrived from Canada, to live here for a few months with a friend but with really no plan. There was a Korean lady who spoke no English but we had a great time trying to sign with her. We all ended up sharing fruits, hand sanitizers, gum, and I shared a room with the Canadian girl (she was nice to offer because she had AC, a TV, and I was avoiding the guide). I also got to hear all their perspective on Vietnam, which helped me open my eyes a bit too. Saving all that for my final post about my journey here.
What else…last night, I had my first massage! Ta Tram has a masseuse who comes to their apartment. She has some serious strong hands, and arm and shoulders for that matter. I got a full body (minus my breasts, as per my request) 75-min massage for $3 US. She does this all day, and I really hope it’s a good living because it is hard work. My favorite part is my feet: they’re so callused from the running that it always feels good.
Today, I went out to lunch with my Ong Noi. It might have been my last one, as I’m not sure if we’ll meet up tomorrow. I didn’t quite know it though, so I’m sad our goodbye was a quick one in the taxi. Hopefully we can arrange Skype dates back in the US. I do think he’ll be around for awhile! I came during his morning exercise, which he does every day for 45 minutes. It usually involves lying on his back, doing leg lefts, running in the air, and then some walking around and stretching. Ben was surprised and said “isn’t there like golden waiver once you past 90 you don’t need to exercise?” Nope! Hope you’re ready for this when you’re older Ben 🙂
Now, it’s wrap up time. Bought more stuff at the market. The girls remembered me, and gave me their lowest offer up front to not bother bargaining. They know I lull and waiver, and then possibly leave. Haha 🙂 I’m running out of VN dong, which is good, as long as I still got the US back at home! No, I haven’t spent that much more but after while, when “everything is so cheap”, it adds up 🙂
Tonight, we’ll do a Bui family dinner with Phung, who is back from her salsa convention. We’ll probably try to meet up with Minh too, who is on her 10th and last day of the master cleanse. Go Minh!
Not sure I’ll have time to post tomorrow before my flight (5pm), so saying adieu for now. I fly to Singapore where I’ll hang out with Carolyn for a day and half, and also meet up with some friends from college. Then, on Friday the 13th (uh…), I fly to the US. Crazy!