Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Kings of the Mekong

After our visit to the tunnels we were up early for another day trip - to the Mekong Delta. The weather was looking rather ominous - we left Ho Chi Minh City amid downpours - but we kept our fingers crossed that the waters would remain in the Delta rather than falling on us once we arrived.

Fortunately, they did, and we enjoyed glorious sunshine as we boarded a boat that took us to our first island, Ben Tre. Sadly most of the islands seem to have been transformed into tourist attractions, although they still retain a certain charm. We watched keo dua (coconut candy) being made by local women, though I was wary not to lose any more teeth when it came to tasting it...

We were then given a short ride on a horse-drawn carriage, clinging for our lives as the horses galloped downhill and our rickety carriage threw us from side to side - it seems that the Vietnamese highway mentality afflicts even the animals here...

We wandered along some paths, watching (or rather, hearing) coconuts being felled, then boarded the boat to Phoenix Island where we were offered the opportunity to feed alligators, before being taken to a restaurant where we could feed on alligator if we so desired. We passed up the opportunity to sample such things as turtle, elephant ear fish, snake and an intriguing sounding 'dragon egg', and instead explored the village by bike.

The island was home to a bizarre, colourful monument that is supposedly the temple of the 'coconut religion'. Supposedly one of the practices of the faith was for its founder to lock himself for nine hours each day in a room, unclothed, with nine other women. No one knows what happened during that time...

We were brought back to our senses by a cup of honey tea, plates of fruit, and the dubious medicinal benefits of banana wine, which tasted like cough medicine, although apparently it's all the rage here.

We also got to hold a snake, whose tail somehow ended up in my pocket when it was my turn, and had to be retrieved with some urgency!

Once back in Ho Chi Minh City, we heard rumours of an ice cream parlour (with the unfortunate name of 'Fanny') that offered all-you-can-eat ice cream, fruit, crepes, profiteroles, cookies and all manner of other sweet treats on the first Friday of every month. It seemed too good to be true, but we joined hoards of Vietnamese who seemed equally hysteric about the 30 or so different flavours on offer and filled bowl after bowl until we could barely move.

On our walk back to our hostels we came across hundreds of women doing exercise routines to a soundtrack of bouncy pop music being played in the park - how better to burn off all the ice cream indulgence?!

1 comment:

  1. The "all you can eat thing" seems like fun.. I'm curious.


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