Cambodia to Vietnam
As much as we would have liked to stay in Cambodia and seen more of the country, we had to make our way to Vietnam if we wanted to see the sites up the coast.
We decided to take the less traveled route to Vietnam and hopped on a 3-day tour down the Mekong River, through the Mekong Delta, all the way to Saigon. It was very nice to not worry about the next place to stay, the next stop, the next bus, etc. for a change. We managed to be "paired" up with a couple of French Canadians and a couple of Dutch guys. We left Phnom Penh in the morning and headed down the Mekong for about 5 hours, through the Cambodia/Vietnam border, and to the town of Chao Doc.
Our "deluxe" yacht in Cambodia - just like the brochure!
This border crossing was a little less hectic than coming into Cambodia!
The trip along the river was very scenic, passing many farms (mainly rice paddies), men tending to their water buffalo (look like oxens) and small villages. Every village greeted us with smiling children jumping up and down along the riverbank screaming "HELLO!"
All the houses are hooked up with TVs, as you can see by the number of antennas.
The Mekong sustains an incredible amount of life, from fishing farms to vegetable farms to rice fields to live stock. The Mekong Delta region produces 70% of Vietnam's rice, plus all the rice that they export. This all surprised us greatly considering that the river is the place where everyone washes themselves, their clothes, pets, dishes, whatever; where all waste (trash, human, etc.) is disposed of and the list could go on and on. But, I'm sure that is how things were done (and maybe still done) not so long ago in the "first worlds" of the world.
We stayed our first night in a guesthouse just outside of Chao Doc at the base of the Sam Mountain (all of 230 meters high). We hiked up to the top of Sam Mountain/big hill for sunset where we could see Cambodia to the west and the Mekong to the southeast.
The next day we went by bus to Can Tho where Amber and I went to a home stay for the evening. We were picked up from the town and taken by motor scooters to the home of the family we were to stay the night with (I (Justin) just happened to see (and be involved in) my first scooter accident, just minor rear ending, I survived unscaved!)
Safe and sound at the home of a family of 8, we had lunch and enjoyed a little nap in the hammocks under the banana trees. In the afternoon, we took a walk through the village with Niem where we met his grandparents, who in perfect grandparent-style, fed us fresh food from their garden. Niem fired many "how do I say in English?” questions to us while telling us about the different farms in the area.
This is called a monkey bridge - I think you can see why.
That night we had dinner and homemade rice whiskey with the family. We ate dried fish (well I did), steamed banana flowers (we didn't even know those were edible), rice, and veggies w/tofu. One shot glass was passed around while two people would share each shot, half & half. Despite our attempts to claim our "last shot", it wasn't until the bottle was empty that we were done. Luckily, rice whiskey is not very strong (unluckily, it's not very good).
Our Vietnamese breakfast - noodle soup and tea.
The last day we visited a floating river market, saw how rice noodles were made, and then made our way to Saigon.
Rice Noodles drying.
We look just like the locals!