Just a few days ago, a friend of mine from college asked about film photography and Australia, heavy stuff if I may say, haha! And no, I didn’t just realized how ancient my previous posts were… but after he asked about those two mouth-watering topics, I revisited my (this) blog and after which — I seriously missed posting awesome stories/travels! I was planning on sharing something more recent but I can’t just start with a new one while my Saigon trip is left hanging. So it’s only right for me to continue with where we left:
Day 3: Saigon, Vietnam
Allow me to refresh your memory, I took this trip with a good friend of mine last November 2011, I’ve already posted day 1 and day 2. We stayed in Vietnam for 4 days and 3 nights – we are now at our third day!
We had planned for a whole day tour and it sure was a long day, trust me when I say long day! We were picked up at our hotel very early for a long drive to Cai Be Floating Market. And so the journey begins.
Rice fields and bridges, numerous of those but one weird or maybe it’s more proper to use unusual – it was very unusual to see a tomb in the middle of a rice field. Okay, for me it was unusual, I’m not so sure for you, but I did ask about it with our tourist guide. He said that most of the families there bury their dead near their houses. I’m not really sure why and I didn’t want to dig deeper, haha! Moving on, we travelled by land for more than an hour and honestly my eyes never felt fuller than before, the daily life of the people in Vietnam was happening before us.
I’ve mentioned before that Vietnam was very popular with the “costume/clothing” white long dress, black pants underneath the long dress and with the traditional Nón lá or in layman’s term, a leaf hat. And who would forget those ladies in bicycles, ey? I saw a few students in that perfect image which was pretty cool.
We arrived at our first stop a bit past 9 AM and since we were off to a floating market the tourist guide asked us if we had troubled ourselves with bringing a bottle of mosquito repellent and of course none of us did. He asked us to buy from a vendor somewhere there and yes, we could not have let this moment pass us without buying ourselves our own Nón lá, we are after all tourists, haha!
There’s Ate Shirley with her Nón lá! See those boats there? “All aboard!” Sorry, I couldn’t help it. I just had to, haha! Those will be our ride for the next two hours or so.
These are not their usual or normal boats, these boats are for tourist. Later you’ll see their traditional rowing boats. Oh before I forget, we are accompanied by four other tourists, two ladies from Australia and two backpackers from Germany, cool right?
In front of you now, confidently standing our very, over the top friendly tourist guide, whom which named our group (the six of us girls) the ‘Lara Group’, that happens to be ate Shirley’s last name, I say this guy is totally crushing on ate Shirley, haha. We are now at the Floating Market itself, haha. See those pumpkins on top of the boat there? That’s how they sell their produce here. Notice also the long stick that has a dried pumpkin tied to it? Whatever you see hanging on those sticks, that’s the produce they’re selling. We were a bit disappointed when we got there, for one because we got there very late and two – there weren’t so much boats, so yeah we didn’t really experience the whole lively atmosphere of the floating market. On the other hand, a glimpse of it isn’t so bad too and seeing the river and the houses alongside it was pretty awesome.
Welcome to Mekong River!
From a point of view of a NatGeo fan, I’ve seen a few documentaries about the Mekong Giant Catfish, and let me tell you, they are gigantic! Those giants are found in this river itself, okay fine, not in this part of the river of course but in this long stretch of river that somehow connects to few other countries, and that is just – Awesome!
See that lady in the boat? This boat is where she lives and on the side of that photograph, a ferry with passengers, transporting commuters. And below, notice the houses and how tall their antennas stand, it’s weird that I love how each small house has one.
After an hour of boat ride we took a stop for some tea in a shop that particularly sells honey and some skin products.
Next stop – life at the riverside! The boat dropped us somewhere and now… we walk! Immersion!
This old man sat alongside side of the road and there he patiently peeled some dried Longans. I wasn’t so sure if I were to feel sorry for this man or uncle, but the face looked so familiar – it was not poverty that you’ll see in the face, there was so much more to it – same with the other Asian countries I’ve been to… it is not poverty that defines these faces. Perseverance and patience describes them best. I admire those lines in their faces. It is the mark of persevering and not poverty.
Walking some more, we went for a quick stop at this exotic shop. Vietnam is very popular too with their exotic food but this shop we were at, they specialized in exotic snake wine, our new friends were brave enough to taste snake wine, ate Shirley and I on the other hand were not, haha! But I did try my best to pose with a python, normally they will let it hang on your shoulders but I didn’t want us to be skin to scale, haha. So, I asked our guide to carry it for me. Smart you say? No, scared is the best word.
If you were in Vietnam and you didn’t try their popular crispy rice popcorn, then my friend, I have tried it for you, haha. I did not just try it, I saw them make it! It was easy and fast, it was hot though because of the thick smoke it creates white cooking them but I guess once you get used to it, it won’t bother you much.
After visiting a few small shops we then pave our way to a Vietnamese house, we had lunch there and we rode bicycles to villages, sightseeing the rural ambiance. It was a nice experience if I may say! After that semi-immersion, we then head back to the river.
Say Hi and Goodbye to our new friends!
Mekong River is the 7th longest river in Asia! Pretty awesome, I say! I’ve been to Bangkok before but I didn’t get to visit their version of Floating Market, I can’t say that the Cai Be floating market was awesome because I didn’t get too see the real action but seeing and soaking up the life in the Mekong River was awesome! So, 7th longest river in Asia and 12th longest in world, Mekong River, believe it! And I have been there!
It sure was a long day but a good realization about traveling – if you are traveling to see point A and point B and missed out on what was in the middle of point A and point B, you’ve wasted more than half of you trip.