After a 6 hour journey we arrived at Chau Doc, Vietnam. We needed to cross the Cambodian-Vietnamese border by foot. Typically this border crossing is for locals and when we crossed we got looks from everybody. It was approaching 100 degrees F and carrying all of our luggage was a bitch. Joey tried to take a photo while at the customs and he was 'quickly' yelled at and stopped by the officers...remember this is a very communist country. We arrived in Chau Doc around 2 and we all went on a Fish Farm and Village tour. The city of Chau Doc smelled like a cocktail of sour eggs and half rotten garbage...yum. The boats we took were crap (to put things bluntly) and off we were along the Mekong River. We first went to a fish farm where there were about 200,000 fish in a small fenced off area within the Meking. The guide fed the fish and it was insane to see the fish flap around. We were told that if you lived on the river then you pay no taxes, thus many people were living on small broken down huts on the water. During our second leg of the tour we say a family of 15 or so watching a TV inside a river hut. A small girl, maybe aged 3 or so, dropped her pants, bent over the Mekong River and took a dump. And this was only 200m from the fishery. I might think twice before I order fish again.
The village we went to was up on stilts 10 to 15 feet high. The locals sold sarongs and jewelery underneath the huts. There were marking on the pillars, which I later discovered were the annual high levels for the water. I am here on the dry season and when the wet season arrives it will completely flood their village and they will have to move about by boat. We had to walk a bridge about 100 feet long and only 20 inches wide, made up of many planks of wood. It was rather quite unbelievable...not safe (plus there was only 1 rail and it was not securely fastened to anything)
There are many stray cats and dogs here as well as in Cambodia. This fact makes me all the more excited to try Dog and Cat for dinner. I hear dog is a delicacy in Vietnam, but it's much more costly than other types of meet. A dog dinner will likely cost as much as 5 dollars here.
Last night we went out to eat where I had a meal of Vegi Spring Rolls, and a Pork Noodle Dish, along with a Saigon Beer...price $4. I walked around with Joey and the Aussie couple for a bit and I got some Ice cream. Joey and I left them and went into the internet cafe. I was trying to read up on the SIM card I just bought since the manual and voice instructions were all in Vietnamese. I didn't have much luck, but I was able to talk to my folks for a little shy of 20 minutes this morning (my time).
While I was on the internet I noticed all the Vietnamese girls were playing a game that was similar to Dance Dance Revolution (DDR for all of you acronym people). They didn't type to a rhythm, but just typed as fast as they could to make the people on the screen dance. They used the arrow keys...I guess it's a very popular game. After 40 minutes we left and headed back to our hotel. The cost for 40 minutes online you ask? 4,000 Vietnamese Dong (or about $0.23).DAMN that's cheap.
On the way back to our hotel we bought some Bao on the street for 5,000 Dong (~$0.29). You can read what it is on the blue link in the previous sentence. Basically it is a giant doughy ball the size of a popcorn ball that is filled with flavored pork and it also had a hard boiled quail egg. We got some drinks back at the hotel and sad along the Mekong River while we ate the Bao. It was very tasty. Joey leaves our group tomorrow morning, and he will be greatly missed.
Today we took an 8 hour bus to Ho Chi Min City. We needed to drive our bus on a fairy boat and get off the bus while we crossed the river. During our entire trip we were receiving stares from everybody, and the children waved their hands and said "hello" in broken English. I guess they think we're celebrities. Chau Doc is a VERY small town and isn't visited by white tourists too often. Also our bus was very nice and this also stood out...motorcycles are the norm here in Indochina and if one has any type of car, albeit shit, they are considered to have money.
I am in my hotel in Ho Chi Min City (formerly Saigon), the capital of Vietnam and we're going to dinner with the 4 new group members that start with us tomorrow. We are also leaving behind: Joey, Connie, Sonja, and Edwin. Tomorrow we are planning to take a tour of the Cu chi Tunnels, which runs from 8:00 to 13:00. I have been waking up before 7:00 every day (except for one day at 8:30 when I was on the beach), and we have full days. Although we often call the nights short at around 11:00 or 12:00. This is partly due to safety and heavily due to the fact that were in 95+ degree F temperatures and sun all day long.
Tomorrow we are taking a sleeper train that takes about 12 hours that arrives at our destination around 5:30 the following morning in Nha Trang.