Sunday, 20 November 2011

down by the river.

After we had filled our bags with treats and goodies from Hoi An we hopped on an overnight bus that would take us to Nha Trang, and from there we would get on another bus that would take us to Mui Ne, a beach town with massive sand dunes where we wanted to spend a few days.

Mui Ne is quite a nice little town. There is a long stretch of beach and the water is perfect for swimming. The sand is littered with rubbish because Asian people do not have any understanding about the evils of littering. Our hotel was on water's edge so we could hear the sea as we sat and read and relaxed, then we could dive in when the heat became too much.

We were victims of a motorbike scam in Mui Ne. We were driving out to the sand dunes and a group of "policemen" stopped us and asked to see our Vietnamese driving license, which of course we did not have. Then they informed us they would keep the bike for ten days and we said fine, we don't care. We took the keys back to the man who leant us the bike (and knew exactly what was happening) and told him to go deal with it. He asked us for $200 to get the bike back from the policemen. We scoffed in disbelief and walked off. We still can't figure out whether the scam was that we payed $5 for a bike we only had for 20 minutes or if they actually thought they could make $200 out of us.

Anyway we were angry. But the next day, refreshed and relaxed, we hired bicycles with the intention of cycling out to the closest dunes. We never found them, but we did find an awesome beach with no other people, nice waves and very colourful shells (some of which we collected as we rode our bikes along the sand). And as we discovered yet again (get ready for a cliche), every cloud has a silver lining....or, to be a little more creative, within each McDonalds burger there is a delicious pickle. We left Mui Ne happy.

And onward to Can Tho (which is where we are now), a town in the Mekong Delta which boasts two floating markets as its tourist draw . We arrived here two nights ago and yesterday we hired a little wooden boat to take us around the river and backwaters and to visit the floating markets. We had to get up at 5am, as the tour started at 5.30. We saw the sunrise and bought hot coffee and bananas from a boat vendor at the first market.

Then we puttered along to the second market- as she was driving, our boat lady was peeling and cutting us fruit which she continued handing us until we could eat no more as well as making clever presents for us out of bamboo-, which was smaller than the first and filled with more little wooden boats bobbing along, continually bumping gently into each other. It was so interesting to watch the swift, practised movements of the fruit and vegetable vendors...peeling things, throwing things to fellow vendors on other boats, hacking into the thick skin of coconuts, all the while gently bobbing on the water.

...our spoils from our boat lady...she made us bamboo crickets and a bouqet of roses with real flower buds!...

After the markets we went to a small rice noodle factory and found out where those thin, white noodles for sale in all our supermarkets come from.

The rest of the tour was quite relaxed and by two we were back in town, chicken noodle soup (or pho) for lunch.

Now we are trying to decide where we will spend our last 10 days in Vietnam, and our trip. We can't decide between staying in another little delta town for a few days before Saigon, or just heading straight into the insane rush of a large Asian city.

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