Sunday, July 09, 2006

Day 12 - Saturday

Well it was a 5am start this morning for our 'adventure' down the Mekong River. The five hour bus trip brought us to the south-west corner of VN... about 50km from the Cambodian border and about 50km from the sea... We were hosted for the weekend by Mr. and Mr. Baa (Director of the Orphanage) whose home Province we were travelling to... All manner of live (and death) were seen on the way - urban sprawl, kids going to school, workers entering factories and a fatal accident involving an elderly woman whose body lay on the motorway... The nation seems to (a) never stop moving (90% on a Honda) and (b) never stops eating...

We eventually arrived at the town of Ving Thong where we took to two long-boats (the PVG + Mr. Baa's party of eight)... We entered the myriad of waterways in the Delta with some trepidation not knowing what was to come... It was like another world of lakes, rivers, canals, and water-lanes... We stopped off for lunch in wonderful small river-side restaurants surrounded by Bonsai gardens, fountains and ponds filled with carp... The waterways are the local highways with grain-barges, water-buses, dredgers and kids diving and swimming amidst all the hustle and bustle... The novelty soon wore off tho' and the V's began to get restless...
Arriving at our destination didn't help morale either... The centre was like a cross between Butlins (in the 60's and a zoo!!). (It looked pretty ok in the brochures...). Most people were happy to make do with the situation but others were very much less than impressed... The girls definitely wanted to go home 'cause the showers were cold and there were ants in the bed!!

Feeding the crocodiles was ok (for the first ten minutes) but only the girls were able to ride the ostriches because all the guys were over the weight limit... The fishing was good craic tho' with Gary and Caroller doing well with 13 between them... Ger and Joe seemed to do as well but their fish did look pretty familiar each time it was caught!!

The sleeping accomodation was 'interesting'... Eight bamboo huts (with ensuites and air-conditioning!) but they certainly needed some work doing on them... (It was like-as-if somebody has built a lake-side chalet complex in the 70's with grant aid but the tourists hadn't come...kinda sounds familiar doesn't it??). Some of us have slept in worse but the V's were not happy campers... John Oxberry's foot went thru' one of the floor boards in the chalet and Maria fell in the lake while trying to get from a paddle-boat to the jetty... It was the first time we'd used mozzie-nets and people were glad to hit the sack after enduring some local folk-singing during what seemed like an endless dinner...

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