And a good evening to you from across the globe after another GREAT DAY in the Lion City. Okay, keepin' the ball rollin', let's move to Day 3 of our Vietnam adventure - this time set in the mysterious, the majestic, the MUDDY, Mekong Delta.
So the pick-up time was 7:45 AM, and I'm happy to confirm that it was right on schedule. We booked a 2 day excurion, which meant that we were actually forfeiting a night in our current hotel. However, when you consider that the price of a tour INCLUDING TRANSPORT AND HOTEL was $28 USD a person, we figured you couldn't really pass it up.
So the bus that picks us up is great, so no complaints there. However, we are then transferred to another elf bus, which means that my right arm is glued to my chest for the entire ride. Luckily, however, I was sitting beside Muffin Puffin.
So it was at this point that we meet our guide, some cat named Dien (pronounced "Ding"). Now look, I know it's the Tet holiday. I am sure that some of the best guides are with their family. But this guy was TERRIBLE. Seriously, 2 minutes into the ride he gives us this speech (this is practically verbatim):
"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Vietnam. Today we go to Mekong Delta. Mekong Delta. So we drive there for about 2 hour, forty-five minute. The drive is 2 hour, forty-five minute. It is very boring. Today will be very boring for you. I do trip every day, and it's boring. But maybe you like it. It new to you. I see every day. It boring."
REALLY? THAT is your sales pitch? FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! Dien (or Dingbat as I shall henceforth refer to him) liked to repeat everything about 147 times during one of his speeches. When I quote him going forward (and DON'T YOU WORRY - I will PLENTY), notice how many times things get repeated. I know you think I'm exaggerating. I can only say that I wish I was.
On the drive to the delta, he gave us another great story:
"In Vietnam, we have mosquito. Mosquito. You know mosquito? Understand mosquito? So we have mosquito. Legend is that there was a girl dying once. She dying. Her boyfriend go to old man to ask save her. He say save her. Old man save her. She then see old man and marry him. So she become mosquito. Mosquito. And now she suck blood to live." He smiles and almost starts cackling. I am trying to think of a way off the bus.
10 minutes later, he tells us: "In Vietnam, it bad to have girl. It is better to have 1 boy than 1 thousand girls. 1 boy worth more than 1 thousand girls. But girls do what we say. Father own them. Father say - 'You! Marry him.' And they do. So if you no have boy. Keep trying."
Again - WOW...thanks for that...and welcome to the WTO.
We did get a highlight on the drive down in the form of a Vietnam specialty - THE ICED WHITE COFFEE, BABY!!!! OH YEAH!!!! In Vietnam, there is a very cool cultural aspect where most restaurants are cafes on the side of the road. The chairs are plastic, the tables are nothing more than card tables, and there are hammocks EVERYWHERE. Seriously - we kicked back for about 20 minutes, and it was GREAT. I could TOTALLY get used to the hammock culture, especially after a 4 hour commute each way on a motorbike.
Shogun - this coffee is pretty close to CIAB (made with extra sugar and condensed milk), with the following exceptions:
1. You don't get it in 14 gallon bags.
2. It isn't 783 degrees.
3. You can actually sleep that night (vs. waiting until next October).
The drive to the Delta took about 3 hours (again - a grand total of SIXTY-TWO WHOLE KILOMETERS - SERENITY NOW!!!!), but FINALLY we arrived at the Mekong Delta. This river, famous for 600 pound catfish and LOTS of mud, was very cool, and we got to spend quite a bit of time on the river, moving through the various islands and streams. Case in point, check out perfect pumpkin rocking the "Raiden hat" - TOO CUTE! But seriously, I know that the "Mortal Kombat Hat" is a stereotype, but EVERYONE had them on. They really do wear them!
The photo of Muffin was the highlight of the day for me, as we had these cats paddling us around some narrow rivers, and the palm fronds were hanging overhead and "blotting out the sun" ("Then we will fight in the shade..."naked).
During 1 stop, we were given local fruits, such as the Jack fruit, dragon fruit, etc. During that time we had a band perform traditional music for us. Now again, I'm sure that, were I more worldly, I would have found this PHENOMENAL. But instead all I could think of is "who's strangling a cat?" Dude, it was HARSH, with some seriously strained notes. You know those African tunes were the guy "kind of " screams? Well this lady full on screamed like pygmy cannibals were after her. I still have no hearing on my left side...
After all was said and done, we got back on the bus to head to our hotel for the night. I looked over at Jenny and said, "Well, the good news is that we are done driving for the night. At least we don't have another 3 hour drive like those suckers who did the one day tour."
NO SOONER HAD I SAID THAT, than Dingbat takes off his commie hat and stands up:
"Ladies and gentlemen, we now drive to Can Tho. The drive take about 2 hour, 45 minute. 2 hour, 45 minute. So we drive now. 2 hour, 45 minute." (side note - what drove me CRAZY was the fact that his tone NEVER changed). Jenny looked at me. I said a lot of bad words. I contemplated punching the window. I resolved myself to cheap beer later that night.
It actually took 2:15 to get to the hotel, but this place was CLASSIC. We had a top floor room (view was actually pretty good). So Jenny walks into the bathroom and says, "Aw, man! The shower must be downstairs." I chuckle and say, "Oh no, puffin - it's right here." Let's play "Find the Shower in Sam and Jenny's bathroom." That's right - we had a spicket (with ONLY ice cold water) and a tile ripped from the floor for the drain. Hairless - this is the spot you should take Mandy for your 10 year. Just sayin'...
That being said, the bed was comfy and the fan worked (no AC - that was extra). We also got down to the water for some FORTY-FIVE CENT BEER, but we cut it short after one due to an Aussie and an American trading war stories about "how much they both hated fighting beside those damn (insert "n" word here - REPEATEDLY)." I was so angry I could have cracked my beer bottle over their heads, but instead we just got up and left. It's too bad, as there was an AWESOME open air kitchen, but I just couldn't listen to such blatant ignorance (spewed at 150 decibels).
But all's well that ends well, as we found a place that served...wait for it...wait for it...PYTHON, BABY!!!! Oh yeah! It was so guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuud. So I sucked down "spicy snake" (no comments, please) for dinner, washed down with a Can Tho beer (it was okay).
After that it was back to bed, as we had a VERY early call with Dingbat. But again, that'll just have to keep until tomorrow.
Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. Chat tomorrow!
Sam and Jenny