Monday, November 26, 2012

Vietnam, Cruising Mekong River Crocodile Style



046For the second time in less than a week we are back on the life line for so many in Southeast Asia.





As I look out across the rapidly following brown waters of the Mekong River, I see we will face many formidable enemies on our adventure this afternoon.

The river is filled with crocodiles although these ones have distorted faces with no mouths and are powered by petrol.

A custom here for those who own boats and travel these waters is to paint a mouthless crocodile on the bow of their vessels. This is meant to ward off harm from the real Mekong River crocodiles as a “mouthless croc” is all bark and no bite.




082A Mouthless Crocodile



We leave port on one of these mouthless crocodiles then it is a group version of “Row, row, row your boat ….. “ as we are soon experiencing life again on the Mekong River and Mekong Delta.



2012-07-01 11 47 27As we make our way to our first stop, we learn some interesting things about boats on the Mekong.

Flag poles at the front of the boats advertise the merchandise for sale.



Sometimes there are whole families that live on these boats earning an existence traveling up and down the Mekong.

Interestingly many of the boats have altars on them which are marked with red paint. These altars are used for worship and women are prohibited from entering this area of the boat.



2012-07-01 11 47 53On many boats the “Happy House” can be found hanging over the stern and it is said that from there you can see a thousand stars at night.





Saturday, November 24, 2012

Vietnam, Tour Bus To Mekong Delta


Arriving a little later than we expected, a tour guide shows up where we are waiting to be picked up for our day trip to the Mekong Delta. Apparently the street we are waiting on is too congested for the bus to navigate so we must walk a short distance where it is waiting for us.

A few more stops at other hotels and we are eventually on our way through the slums of Ho Chi Minh City headed to the National Highway.



MD5 0 00 01-07Along the National Highway we pass many open rice fields some of them interestingly having burial tombs in them.




We are told about traditional Vietnamese burials which requires a double burial that is done above ground. The second burial occurs after the body has decayed to just bones. These bones are recovered by a male member of the family and ceremonially cleansed before being reburied on family land.


MD7 0 00 04-01Another interesting spot along the National Highway is “Happy Land” an entertainment park that is in some sort of a construction phase that has Michael Jackson's father as an investor. I think Disneyland has nothing to worry about.




MD9 0 00 05-05Along with a rest stop break to visit the “Happy House”, after a few hours of navigating the National Highway along with a few well loaded scooters we arrive at the launching point for our cruise down the Mekong River.





2012-07-01 11 45 37Family Transportation



Wanting to blend in, I drive a hard bargain to get us a pair of Miss Saigon and Mr. Mekong Delta Mafia hats. Apparently, Miss Saigon drives a lot tougher bargain than the Godfather because she is quick to let me know that she thinks I overpaid for the deal. I should have made them an offer they could not refuse like $0.75 for two hats instead of $1.00.



Mekong Delta Mafia


I sure hope the locals don't think the Godfather has gone soft.




Friday, November 23, 2012

Vietnam, Chicken In A Basket


As we wait in the early morning to be picked up for our tour of the Mekong Delta, we get an entertaining look at a Vietnamese style of chicken in a basket.

Sitting on the entrance steps of a local hotel, we watch as an employee begins the day by setting some chicken feed on the ground and placing an open ended basket over it. A hen is then brought from somewhere inside the hotel and placed inside the basket.



043The real entertainment begins when a rooster is added to the mix.

Not quite sure what to do, he goes stir crazy circling the basket.





I am not sure if he is just trying to impress the chick inside or if he is trying to execute a “Joshua at Jericho” maneuver.

Either way, it's somewhat hysterical.



Friday, November 2, 2012

Vietnam, Fried Corn And A Street Hustler



156After a quick check in process at Tan Hai Long, we head out for a short walk to Ben Thanh Night Market just a few blows away.





The activity in the market area is winding down for the evening as I imagine the light falling rain has discouraged many from venturing out for the evening. However, there are still a few merchants and food vendors that are prepared for whatever mother nature has to offer.

At one vendor we stop to have another sampling of a dish we took a liking to in Hanoi, fried corn.


158Kicked up with a bit more offerings than in Hanoi, the fried corn serves us a nice appetizer to our planned meal later in the evening.





As we continue walking the area the rain intensity increases and it brings out the umbrella hawkers. Not being the umbrella type we have no interest in buying one but we are thoroughly entertained by watching a sale being made.

You see, the seller is no ordinary salesperson. Her style and charisma would have an Eskimo buying a refrigerator.

“If you take two, I give you a good price.” Who can resist such a deal from a nine year old?



159Bone Cha



Under the cover of a make shift street restaurant recommended by a nine year old, we watch as the skies open up and the rain comes down in buckets. Fortunately, this does not last too long and we are able to enjoy an affordable dinner including “Bone Cha” and a few Bier 333.