Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Journey up the Mekong

We left Ho Chi Minh in the morning on a minibus bound for a town on the Mekong river, where we joined about two dozen others on a small boat which took us out further onto the river where we boarded our proper boat - the "Mekong Eyes", a lovely wooden converted rice barge turned into a fairly posh cruising boat. It was simply lovely. We had a well appointed room and the boat had a dining room and a wonderful top deck with places to sit and take in the view. It almost felt too fancy for me, but I guess sometimes it's nice to travel in style.

We began sailing and we relaxed on the top deck watching the lush, green jungly landscape pass by, with its occasional small, ramshackle houses on the shore. Various other boats passed by - mostly fishing boats and small sampans rowed by women and men standing atop them and rowing with long oars. It was very peaceful and pleasant (and perfect for cigar smoking.

After a delicious lunch, we took small boats to a village along the river where we were able to wander past rice paddy fields dotted with above ground graves, tiny houses with open air rooms and families resting in hammocks, chopping wood for the stove, and cooking and eating meals, and past trees growing papayas, jackfruit, coconuts and bananas. After returning to the big boat we spent the rest of the day watching the shore slip past until it was dark and the sky was dotted with migrating bats.

We had a wonderful sleep on board, delayed only slightly by a fantastic lightening storm, which lit up the night sky.

This morning after breakfast we again took a small boat to the floating market, where countless boats crowded together on a wide part of the river to sell all manner of produce and hot coffee and tea. The boats, which ranged from small canoe-like contraptions to larger boats displayed their wares by way
of tying them to masts on their boats - the pineapple vendor, for example, had a pineapple hanging from a stick, high above the boat so that others would know what was for sale. The market was so lively and colourful as the boats all paddled and motored their way amongst each other to connect vendors with buyers. Along the shores we had excellent views of people's houses and could see people going about their daily lives on the water.

After the market we took in some other sights on foot and then after a meal of delicious fruits, we left our boat and travelled by bus about three hours to Chau Doc; a small but busy city near the border with Cambodia.

Our hotel in Chau Doc is ridiculously fancy. It is the Victoria hotel and is this posh establishment on the water with a  beautiful outdoor pool, restaurant, and beautiful rooms.  We went for a walk though the city, which was buzzing with motor scooters and has a bustling, colourful market. We walked though the market, looking with wonder at the many unidentifiable fruits and vegetables and taking in the sights and (pungent) smells. The evening has wound up with a cigar on the hotel grounds, looking out over the water.

In the morning we are catching a speed boat to Phnom Pehn, where the second leg of out trip shall begin.


Barry Curts said...

Good reading your post. Looking forward to some more photos. Many mosquitoes/bugs? We had our first dusting of snow on Monday, gone now but makes you remember that winter is on its way. TAM BIET PAT

Barry Curts said...

Thanks for adding the pictures. PAT