14.10.2013 - 14.10.2013
On our last day in HCMC we went to the Mekong Delta, just a couple of hours on the bus from the city. Along the way we spotted tonnes of gravestones/tombs in the middle of rice paddies. Seemed like a slightly odd place to bury the dead, around your main food supply...
We boarded a small boat which took us to several drop off points, including Unicorn Island in the middle of the river. Although you couldn't help the feeling of being 'farmed' as tourists (take tourists to stop A... sing to tourists... put box in front of tourists for tips... take tourists to stop B... show tourists what they make with coconut... sell coconut candy to tourists), I am being a tad glib as the stops were all quite interesting.
Blimey, there's gert big watercress around here...
Cocoa seeds - they tasted pretty nice, but fruity not like chocolate!
Front room of typical island dwelling
We did have to listen to a pretty dire musical arrangement. They have no other forms of entertainment so they play their often handmade instruments in the evenings. You'd have thought that with all the practice they'd be a little more tuneful!
Produce is plentiful and the locals are incredibly resourceful with coconuts, using every part... they sell the stringy bits to China to make carpets, the hard outer shell to make a variety of wooden objects - from chopsticks to handbags... and of course the flesh and milk is used in cooking or to make rice paper and candy (which was delicious freshly warm).
The highlight was a very pleasant boat ride through narrow natural canals lined with mangroves and palm trees, before heading to a smart riverside restaurant for lunch. No-one was tempted by the local speciality, Elephant fish, but Danny did pluck up the courage to try a couple of fat writhing widgety grubs which were panfried live with garlic butter. Mmmm mmmm!
Christine attempting to photo bomb!
Elephant fish... must have been at the back of the fish queue whilst waiting to be bestowed their looks. I suppose it's eternally grateful the trunk fitter was off that day.
On our return to the mainland, Ant & I appeared to be given special treatment when the guide said she'd take our photos at the front of the boat and that we could stay there, sipping our coconut juice. Seeing as we both like nothing better than to be on a boat, we were pretty chuffed (deliberate word selection for you Diane, my dear cousin in America!).
Back in the city, we headed off to the GPO for both a practical purpose and to sightsee. We wanted to ship back our lovely lanterns from Hoi An and a few other souveniers, and to visit because it's a beautiful building. The interior was impressive (for a Post Office anyway), its creator was none other than the guy who designed the Eiffel Tower.
Although looking back I see our photos compliment the city, we were somewhat relieved that it was time to move on from Saigon and enter Cambodia.