Sunday, 14 July 2013

Relaxing on the Mekong

Groping snake
It was another early morning, but this time the bus was quite comfy and the seats even slightly reclined so we managed to get some sleep on our way to the mighty Mekong river. Once we’d reached it we boarded a small motor boat and crossed over to nearby Unicorn Island where our tour began in one of the best ways possible - by sampling some local foods. We tried honey tea, reputed to have many medicinal benefits, banana liquor, local fruits (many of which we didn’t recognise and unfortunately cannot remember – but they were tasty!). After we were finished this we all got to, for some random reason, hold a snake which was quite active when it was Dave’s turn to hold him and even gave him a good groping…

The next experience was for us to board small canoes and we were each paddled downstream by a local lady. There was a spare paddle in our canoe so we joined in the fun, although once we were helping with the paddling our lady resorted to whacking Dave repeatedly with her paddle as she demanded him to pay her a tip for her labour. This did tarnish the trip a little, but it was still a fun ride down the narrow creek, past fields, bathing buffalo and groups of ducks that we knew would soon become a delicious dish.

Canoeing down the river 
After leaving our abusive guide on the canoe we reboarded our original boat and powered off to Phoenix Island where we were shown us how coconut candy and flavoured rice paper sheets are made – really impressive actually! And the best part was that we were able to taste test everything, which was a smart idea on their behalf - as since everything tasted so good - we purchased quite a few flavours for later. 

Skillfully making rice paper
Our next destination was Coconut Island, which apparently got its name from the monks who live there and exist entirely on coconuts, but as paying guests we were treated to more options then coconut for lunch. Actually, we would’ve preferred a fresh coconut as lunch was greasy and not to good, but again that’s typical with tours. We had free time after lunch to wander the small island, watch some of the other tourists pay to tease the crocodiles with food, and enjoy a refreshing coffee. That was our last stop for the day and from there we puttered slowly back up the Mekong, enjoying the scenery and watching other massive boats, that really looked like they shouldn’t be floating, motor by. Back on the bus we settled in for the long ride home, content to watch scenery go by since we’d been asleep on the way there and missed it all.

Rice papers out to dry
Since lunch had been not so good, when we were back in Ho Chi Minh we found a place for dinner as soon as we jumped off the bus. We were still hungry afterwards, so we decided to try an avocado, durian and jack fruit smoothie from one of the many fruit stands for dessert. It was actually really creamy and tasty and we were sorry we hadn’t tried it sooner so we could have enjoyed more of them! 

Aggravated croc
We were heading off the next day to Mui Né so we had to turn in early to pack and get organised for our trip, we were sorry we hadn’t scheduled longer in Ho Chi Minh as it had been a fantastic place to explore and there was a lot more to see then we had time for, but we were equally excited to get to Mui Né as we had ‘planned’ two days of pure relaxation in a resort, something we really needed as we had been keeping a cracking pace over the last few months and we needed some R&R!

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