Sunday, February 4, 2018

Snake Cuddling in the Mekong Delta

Beautiful sunshine and the temperature was over 30 degrees.

We were picked up at our hotel at 8am to start our last day in Vietnam with a tour to the Mekong River Delta. 

Of course traffic was crazy. At one point a family of four on a motorbike (with young children) were driving down the wrong way on the freeway. 

There is a lot of horn blowing in Vietnam. Our guide explained that it means, “I’m behind you” or “get out of my way”.

The bus transported us to the Mekong River . On the way to the Mekong we stopped at the Cao Dai temple. Members of the temple are Taoist, Confusionist and Buddhist. Even Christ is recognized there.

Once at the river, our small group took a boat and stopped at an island where we saw coconut candy being made before walking to an area where we tried numerous types of fruit (including a water apple and lychees). We also dipped pineapple in a chili salt which was delicious. Local girls sang while we ate.

We next followed a path to a waterway where we were paddled down the river in large canoes. I loved watching the mudskippers on the banks.

Sampling honey tea and seeing bees were the next stop on our tour. I also got to hold a python. For some reason, no one else in our group wanted to. It was surprising how heavy that snake was.

Horse carriages then took us to a lovely place where we had a large lunch. There was a small zoo with crocodiles, frogs, snakes and porcupines...not sure why they were there because I don’t think they are native to the area.

We then took yet another boat through a waterway so covered by trees it was like being in a tunnel. We then returned to our original bigger boat and crossed the river to our bus. I bought a couple of the pointy hats...I guess I’ll be wearing them on the plane. Now that should make an interesting fashion statement.

It was about an hour and a half to drive back to our hotel. We passed many rice fields. There are all kinds of graves in the rice fields. Our guide told us that people bury their dead wherever they want. Rice fields where the deceased had worked is very common.

Our guide explained a few beliefs in regards to the afterlife. She said that to communicate with the dead, you had to burn incense. Since the dead can’t eat, they use incense as food.

Also the meals are put out during the two days of a full mood as offerings to the gods.

A lot of pesticides are used on the rice and produce. To make matters worse, there are still a lot of chemicals in the water from the war.

In regards to Vietnamese food. I was told by another one of our guides that many people eat dog. I saw no sign of this however at the beginning of the trip our cooking class instructor jokingly told us that “if it’s dead, they eat it. If it’s alive, they kill it then eat it.

We got back to our hotel by 4pm so we went for a beer in an outdoor cafe and watched the traffic go by.

I saw a fair number of families with four or five people all riding on one motorcycle; grandparents, adults, babies, toddlers and children. Although the adults are usually wearing helmets (it’s the law), the kids rarely do. I was told if they are stopped by the police, the parents say that they are concerned that their children’s necks are not strong enough to support the helmet and the police let them go. 

I saw a lot of little kids standing up while riding the motorbikes. Yikes!

People event text while driving.

We had supper at the Five Oysters Restaurant across the street from our hotel.

Cora was tired so John and I decided to end our vacation with one more massage before the car arrived to take us to the airport.

It took only twenty minutes to get to the airport since it is right in the city. There are all kind of light displays on the main roads and throughout the city for Asian New Years which is like our Christmas holidays.

The line ups took forever at the airport. Its a long flight home.

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