Thursday, 18 February 2010

Thursday 18th February

An early start this morning to catch our little boat (one of the small longtails we've seen on various rivers and canals already) captained by a cheery PJ'd woman with a perpetual smile. She didn't speak any English, but was a great non-verbal guide, pointing out things on the bank and stopping so that we could get off and climb over monkey bridges (the somewhat scary and dilapidated single-plank affairs that the government is trying to condemn).

First stop was Cai Rang - one of the floating markets - very different from those in Thailand with large barges stacked with farm produce almost to sinking point. It's fairly quiet at the moment since we're still in the holiday period following Tet, but it was fascinating to see. Each of the barges had a long bamboo cane stuck vertically from its prow with a sample of the wares for sale hanging there so you could see what was on offer.

We also stopped at some rice fields and a fruit farm where we breakfasted on freshly picked mangos, pineapples and milk apples. There are still occasional colourful paper and wood boats that had been floated down the river for Tet. Some of the backwater canals were incredibly verdant and peaceful - just like English canal boating. More people drink straight out of the river here though...!

Have checked into a decent hotel for the night since we could do with some sleep on a good mattress. Didn't realise large pink bath robe for Caroline was also included. The fantastic transformation to human marshmallow is complete. Olly decides the best way to cure Caroline's persistent hiccups is to force feed her beer. Sadly Vietnamese beer is the worst in the world. It makes Miller Extra Lite seem excellent! Really looking forward to that fermented yak's milk in Bhutan..yum ...yum ....yum.

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