Starting out from Phonm Pen, the bus ride to the first big boat was full of excitment as we left the centre of Phonm Pen. Traffic only as you can find in Asia surging in all directions taking on a life pulse all of its own, bikes loaded with everything inmagineable [up to 5 people, livestock, building materials or the latest purchase’s from the market, boxes and boxes on one bike] weaving in and out on both sides of the road with constant blasting horns to let everyone know that they are there and are coming thru regardless, all this on bikes 50cc to 200cc in size.
Interspaced with this was the local taxis [utilities or small minivans] with loads of up to 20 persons plus all thier gear, we saw two mini buses with approx. 15 people on the roof this was not unusual what made us look again this time was the motorbike sitting upright on the roof of the minibus surrounded by people.
Arriving at the Mekong river we walked thru a small village then down a muddy bank to walk a narrow plank to board our first big boat. Arriving at the border we wondered what awaited us as we passed thru the Cambodian border to Veitnam, officials we discovered are the same the world over, they like to be official, the border crossing went without a hitch except one of our group who was given a hard time for a few moments.
The Mekong river has fishing villages scattered along its bank and a lot of houses built on it, they were ranging from very basic, built in the old style and looked to be quite impovised to houses built out of modern building materials and reflected a higher standard of living. One interesting thing we noticed was that all the huts and houses along the bank of the river had tall T.V. antenas , how did they supply power to thier tellys? with car batteries, when the battery needs recharging they take it to the nearest settlement and swap it for fully charged one.
The river at this point is up to one kilometre wide growing to three kilometres wide two hours down stream. Canels naturaul and man made branch off both sides of the Mekong it was up one of these canels that we left the river to go to Chau Doc where we were to spend the first night the canels kept getting smaller and smaller with the banks closing in on the boat, this gave us a very close look at the communties that resided on the banks and the houses that were built on the water, these houses have fish farms underneath them, we were to visit one the next day. All along the trip people were waving to us from the edges of the waterway with big smiles on thier faces, particularly the children.
When we disembarked from our first big boat, we were met by a small motor bike with a covered in tralior, this bike was 50cc. At the front of the trailor was placed our luggage and into the back hopped 8 yes 8 people all europeans [big people] and we set off to our nights accommodation attracting a lot of attention along the way, locals pointing and having a good laugh. There is one hill in the delta and you guessed it, that was where our nights accomadation was, so as we started to go up we came to a stop, poor little bike couldn’t cope, from there we hoofed it. After we surrendered our passports which was requested of us now that we were in Vietnam, and settled in to our rooms, we with others climbed Sam Hill to look out over the delta, rice paddies and canels as far as we could see, the rice is been harvested at the moment so we saw a lot of activity with it been transported along the waterways. This was typical of the next four days as we navigated our way thru the delta, which is called the nine dragons delta by the locals.
*yawn* – will finish this post tommorow!