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Running away from Home

Down in the delta

VIETNAM | Tuesday, 6 April 2010 | Views [327]

Floating restaurant in Chau Doc

Floating restaurant in Chau Doc

As a perfect way to wrap up my Mekong adventure, I chose the river route to Vietnam. This involved taking a “tour“ through Chau Doc, but it was only two days and one night. We took a minibus about an hour and a half southwest out of Phnom Penh where we met up with the Mekong. The other tourists and myself had been crowded in the minivan, but on the boat we all had room to spread out. The seats were cushioned and you had a choice of sitting in the sun or shade. The light lunch that they promised us turned out to be just a cup of ramen noodles, but they did have a small assortment of cold drinks for sale. The border crossing went very smoothly, and if the officials asked for anything extra, then it must have been included in the tour price.

The heat of delta country and the steady chugging of the boat’s engine had a drowsing effect on me. I didn’t even try to take photos. After seeing the dried-up yellow and brown fields of Laos, it was comforting to see some green along the river. I know that it is nowhere near the amount of green that you see during the rainy season, but I’m not going to stick around long enough to find out. I would love to take a closer look at the Mekong delta, especially if it involved a homestay, but time is getting short and I want to have at least three weeks in China. Besides, this climate is hard on my laundry. If I go out for a walk at 8:00am my shirt is soaked with sweat by 8:30am. I try to keep my clothes rinsed, but I don’t always have the time or space to dry them. What a mess.

We got to the floating hotel in Chau Doc about the time the mosquitoes started to bite. My room was small, but clean and it had a mosquito net. I dropped my gear and went for a walk to stretch my legs and find some food. I walked at least 3 kilometers up and down the drag that ran alongside the river, but it didn’t take me that long to figure out that Chau Doc is new to the tourist industry. There weren’t any restaurants, just food carts with tables set up next to them, and nothing was in English. After all the walking, I was stuck with the restaurant the was affiliated with the hotel. I didn’t have to eat alone, however. The others in my tour group were stuck with me and we sat and swapped travel stories all evening. There was a group of three twenty-somethings from England and they kept me in stitches. I ordered a house special described as “vegetables with duck’s legs”. I found out that “duck’s legs” didn’t mean the drumstick part of the leg. They were talking about the part that connects to the webbed foot. The orange skin had been peeled away to be served (cold) as a gelatinous strip of soft, white flesh with the occasional crunch of cartilage. Yummy! I thought that if this is what the food in Vietnam was going to be like, then I am definitely making a run for the border. I also ordered rice and was served a plate full of prawn crackers. They tried to overcharge me on the bill. I got the menu and set them straight. They fixed the bill and I paid. If the company hadn’t been so pleasant the evening would have been a dining disaster.

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