Married and looking in rach gia
Near to time receptionist tells us that the bus had an accident and will be late. Dave asked whether Married and looking in rach gia ferry would wait for us. Receptionist decided to call us a taxi! In a small green Mai Linh group taxi northwards out of town to the ferry terminal 25 or more km away. Will we get there in time? Time cracks on, at the terminal entrance with 3 mins to go he stops at the ticket desk at the gate. Communication problems there take up a couple of minutes then he drives to the boat just after the boarding ramp has been removed from the vessel and it has untied its moorings. Easy trip across to the mainland, as usual the unbelievable timings were not 1.
Passed a couple of island archipelagos on route. Some with red and white electricity pylons over the sea connecting the islands to the grid. Off at Rach Gia. A great little place at 12 USD per night. Taxis for free and so much written English helpful info in a book for each room there about town and travelling for tourists. Taxi into town, a little essentials shopping in a proper supermarket. Meal across the way and walked the nearly km back to the hotel. Locals hang around on the main bridge here to watch sunset, meet up, chat; motorbikes parked along the bridge. Posh residential end of town here, modern low rises,not very busy. Coffee central is a huge modern coffee shop, impossible to see how it is financially viable, artistic curved laminated wooden Married and looking in rach gia of outdoor shade area and gardens in prime position with huge curved modern building behind.
Obliging, helpful but weird lad on reception assisted ususual communication problems but eventually taxi arrived and dropped us in the town centre area. Chris went in Married and looking in rach gia nail bar then next door for eyebrows, eyelashes whilst Dave was beckoned across the road by an old boy sitting outside a pavement coffee shop. Time went by, and more of it. Dave sat having rudimentary conversations with half a dozen blokes who turned up, sat a while, chatted, drank, went. Eventually, all beautified, Chris emerged, maybe 1. SE Asia time cannot be hurried! A coffee with us. A walk through the clean local style town centre.
Food at a street cafe; an unsatisfactory meal of hotpot with the oldest toughest chicken in it with all its bones, offal, feet, head. Almost inedible, we left a lot, were charged too much and walked back to hotel for the night. Mon 13th Caught the hotel taxi 6km south to inland speedboat quay at 8am but when we got to the terminus shack with cafe the 9am boat had been cancelled. Waited around, walked a little, rested until 2pm boat to Ca Mau. Due to time and no onward boat today we cancelled the hotel in Nam Can, we will stay tonight in Ca Mau instead! Whilst waiting the 5 hours we had some of those rudimentary conversations in pictorial form with locals there.
At that answer Dave got many disapproving looks as he appeared to have had our first child when Chris was 13! What are these westerners like! These boats are swift fibreglass affairs with rows of fibreglass seats, bend double to walk the aisle, bags and goods on roof: Inboard diesel at rear. There is loads of the invasive water Married and looking in rach gia weed all over the water ways around here. This weed is from the Amazon, floats in dense mats, stops shipping and blocks water oxygenation and is all over the hot parts of the freshwater world now. Very interesting journey well worth doing along ship canals through land and swamp all at or only just above water level: Ship building yards are on some riverbank suburbs of Rach Gia, still mostly wooden hulled, sometimes metal clad, mostly large junk shaped boats with wooden buildings high on the stern.
Regularly small motorbike and passenger ferries cross the water. Most buildings, towns, living and business are done on the riverside with concrete fronted buildings to the road one side, stilted wooden, palm leaf thatched or corrugated rears of the same buildings over the river on wooden or concrete stilts. Toilets often behind that, small privies overhanging the waters! Heavy metal poisoning from factories etc upstream is apparently a problem. During the Vietnam war defoliants were sprayed on mangroves around the delta by Americans trying to stop servicing and movement of the enemy side. Since the war replanting had been occuring, using also casuarina tree family because they are good at soaking up poisons.
Prawn and crab farms proliferate in the delta; cleared areas of large rectangular ponds, sometimes with motor driven paddle systems aerating the water. Between waterside villages of housing, cafes, businesses there is more natural environment of water growing palms, where fronds get cut off to use for thatching, mangroves and other trees on ground above water. No ground is more than a metre above water except bridges. There is no river banking, flooded areas for the various reasons of natural to farming abutt the canals themselves. Houses and buildings often have rows of sticks planted closely in the mud just beyond their banks, probably to spill wash and stop erosion of banks.
The slightly naturally raised banks next to rivers are where roads run. Chris just enjoys it for what it is…The Mekong Delta!! About 5 or 6pm we arrived in Ca Mau. A fellow traveller, a Viet bloke, recommended his hotel, all very posh, no westerners here, kD per night Inc. Breakfast, has bath and kettle, helpful staff, clean and everything works! Walked down the road a bit, clean sidestreet, little rubbish around, not run down, quite a nice but ordinary little town of 80k people. Found an open air eatery behind hotels and shops. Business folk seem to congregate here to eat. Usual communication problems, we were helped by agroup of businessmen who suggested chicken in fish sauce.
We orderedp0, had a drink, waited. The chicken arrived, tasty but roughly hacked chunks including feet, head and offal. Walked around town a while, coffee etc. Dave had a haircut, back to hot weather 3mm long style and comfortable! Stepped in a chemist but still no luck for praziquantel had no further problems in the bum department though. Disappointed at the time but after reading reviews later it seems that breaking this wine was probably a better thing to do than drinking it! Rested at the lovely hotel. Viets celebrate the day to show family love as well as that between couples. Soft toys and flowers were being sold on street corners today.
Went out locally to a different street cafe. Fish and seafood swim in tanks here to be chosen for dinner. Similarly interesting journey to Nam Can, a very small ribbon development town at a junction of large canals in the southwest of the Mekong Peninsula. Bus and boat station are the same place. Town centre is about 4 to 5km south of here, our hotel Ozone is an easy walk 1km north, over a bridge; its roof can be seen above the bridge from the bus station. Posh, friendly, inexpensive hotel with restaurant and swimming pool. Loads of maybe overly attentive staff but very helpful although no English spoken complicates all communication. Google translate became used a lot by the receptionist who arranged all trips and travel for us.
It was lovely plus clean. Dave ate file fish on skewers after some awkward explanations of the menu. These are 15cm long thin things with sharp looking teeth, skewer down their throats, grilled, eaten by nibbling the flesh off each side of the body avoiding the two dimensional spine bone. So after hotel breakfasttaxi at 10am. Remarkably like the flat fenlands for straight canals and bridges but not for the amount of wetland, type of plants, trees and houses. Paid 28kD between us to get into the Dat Mui area. Walked around concrete statue of a ship and an arch declaring it was Dat Mui and wandered a concrete causeway with muddy mangrove one side, we watched blue crabs and mud crawling fish on the ooze; brown muddy sea the other side of the causeway.
An octagonal restaurant in blue paint sits on stilts 50 m along a walkway in the sea. The Khoai Islands sit 15km offshore, the only land higher than a metre above sea level for many many kilometres around this delta. Some drivers favour their accelerator, others their brakes, this one of ours favours his horn, slow and careful but plenty of long horn tones around other vehicles. Stopped at the one huge roundabout dusty centre of Nam Can town on the way back to use the cashpoint: Agribank is the cheapest to use and always accepts our card, other banks not so!
Back at the hotel by 3pm for a refreshing swim in the lovely pool. Reception booked us on the bus to Soc Trang tomorrow, a 1m population delta town some km east towards Ho Chi Minh City. Similar journey through riverside villages, houses joining river at the back and road at front. A cafe stop partway, backs on to the river with a rear balcony there too. Found a passable Hotel very near, Hotel Xuan Huynh, and booked in there at kD per night, on north side of the 1m population ciity, we are 2km out of town. Taxi to Bat temple, all of these temples and their grounds are peaceful places, trees in the grounds here house fruit bats, endangered in these parts because they are a delicacy but protected here by the Buddhist monks.
The bats squeal in the trees and fly before dark. The temple is a run down affair with rubbish everywhere. A blessing session for healing the sick started at sunset with floor seated congregation around a senior monk who dipped a brush in a container of holy water and flicked it over the whole congregation again and again over a ten minute period whilst chanting in a low volume. A woman there kept squawking and fainting as the water came around, some sort of hystrionics or has she got rabies!
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Dropped us at znd northern bus station. Posh residential end of town here, modern low rises,not very busy. Remarkably like the flat fenlands for straight canals and bridges but not for the amount of wetland, type of plants, trees and houses. Will we get there in time? Time went by, and more of it.