Hau and Nghia picked us up at 8:30 am for an overnight excursion into the Mekong Delta. I have been there a number of times and have found that almost all tour companies will take customers to the same places and offer the same sights. I wanted something a little different from the regular routine, as did my guests. This can be a little difficult to do for the following reason:
All tour companies are required to take tourists to certain locations for meals. This means you will always stop at the same roadside touristy oasis and have the same meal of deep fried elephant ear fish, a large rice ball and other Mekong traditional favorites. Even I could not avoid these places as two of the people travelling with us were tourists. Tour companies have been instructed by the government to use these facilities to protect the tourist from getting sick. They can be held liable if anyone under their care fall ill. Also, many of the attractions have to be met with government approval making many of them look and feel the same. We passed the big tourist lunch spot as we headed south And boarded a boat to visit the Cai Be floating market. We maneuvered our way through the anchored boats where atop long poles, hung a sample of what produce the boat was carrying.
It was overcast and the weather cool making for a pleasant ride up the river. I could tell already that there were not a lot of tourists that take this route. We transferred into small paddle craft and proceeded down some small waterways the eventually took us to lunch. It was a very tasty meal of Elephant Ear fish, and other items. Our bellies full, we continued on to a local rice paper and coconut candy factory. It was small and not heavy with tourists which was what we had asked for. After it was off to jump on bicycles to peddle our way through the
jungle islands when the rain came. And came it did…. So no bicycles. We decided to use the boat to reach our homestay destination. There was a bit of a problem! The tide was low and the water from the Mekong river was extremely low making the ride a tricky one. Our boat became hung up on a few occasions, but with the expert ability of our skipper, we finally were able to reach the homestay. I would imagine that if it was not raining so hard, there would have been no way the boat could have made it. We arrived in the late afternoon and spent some time wandering around the island and its tiny town.
I knew something was not quite right with me that day and in the late
afternoon while everybody was adjusting their mosquito nets in their rooms, I became ill…. Just like that… Fine one minute and sick the next. Headaches lurking just beneath the eyes, a fever one moment, and then a chill the next, and an incredible sense of fatigue. Not wanting to be a total burn out, I forced to keep myself up to being with the others as they helped to prepare a dinner of Elephant Ear fish and other tasty items. One of the dishes was water snake. It tasted fine, but try as we might, the skin was too thick and hard to bite through so we gave up. After dinner the guitar came out ant the party was on again. I lasted as long as I could before crawling under the mosquito net and passing out.