Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Day 3: Good morning Saigon... Good night Mekong Delta River!

"Good morning Saigon!"
Here’s where we stayed in the backpacking district of Ho Chi Minh!

This was the view of the street outside my hostel!  I love every inch of it... the colors... the charm... the craziness... all of it!

As I was standing out on the sidewalk, a woman doting a traditional Vietnamese straw hat handed me this flier for a massage!  Sheesh, a 70 minute massage for $11!?  Yes please!

We headed down the street in search of some breakfast and found ourselves walking behind this woman carrying a basket full of peanuts!

We landed at this fantastic café where we feasted on delicious $3.00 pancakes!

There are touts on nearly every corner of the city, aggressively attempting to sell you something or rather.  We were probably approached by about 5 different people trying to sell us sunglasses while we were eating!

Some even carry their items on bike... like this woman, who was selling feather dusters, among other household cleaning items as she moved down the street! 

And some carry their items on makeshift things like these!  When this woman isn’t sitting down to eat, she’s probably carrying all of this by balancing the crossbar bar on the back of her shoulders.  Talk about a workout!

After breakfast, we took a walk over to the bus station to catch out first bus towards to Mekong Delta River.  As we were walking I spotted this old man… Such an awesome beard, huh?!  As soon as I snapped his picture, he gave me a huge grin and a nod of the head! J

Family scooter ride!

How’d you like to live here?!

During breakfast we decided we would go to the Mekong Delta River, which is about 4 hours from Ho Chi Minh!  As we were waiting for the bus, Aaron did some panning practice!  If you’ve never heard of it, it’s where you take a picture with a really long exposure and follow the scooter, ultimately panning with it, as it drives by.  If it’s done correctly, the scooter is in perfect focus, and the background is blurred!

We made it to our first bus!  Bus #1, headed for Cho Lon.  We got the two front seats, which made for a great view along the ride!

Since our Vietnamese pronunciation of cities names is apparently terrible, I wrote down ever bus station we needed to go to today to get to our final destination!  I forgot to pack paper, so my hand became the jotting down spot! J

 I’m not sure what religion most people are in Vietnam, but this bus driver had a shrine to someone/ something on the dash of his bus!

 We changed busses 3 TIMES today!!

And bought a lot of different tickets!

This girl was on one of our busses!  Check out that mask, with wings!

As we drove the 4 hours to Ben Tre, I watched a couple TV shows on my laptop and snapped some pictures along the way!  Enjoy!

This was our first view of the Mekong Delta River.  As you can see, it’s BROWN and thick with silt!  Aaron thinks it looks like milk chocolate!

FINALLY, we made it to Vinh Long, and were eager to find a home stay to settle into on the river!  Unfortunately, no one on our bus spoke English to help us find it, except for a young 13 year old girl, traveling alone, who said “follow me.”  She led us over to the ferry boat area, where we waited for the ferry to take us to the other side of the river along with the hoards of scooters.

As we were waiting, she walked over to the snack area and bought this box of coconut, peanut, durian candy and handed it to us, as a gift.  We knew, right when she handed it to us, that she was going to be expecting us to give her money (a tip of sorts) when she got us to our home stay.  It’s always a little bit frustrating when people act as if they want to help out of the kindness of their heart, but then expect money later. We’ve had this happen quite a bit during our travels in Asia, and knew what she was doing, but we didn’t mind!  We were just happy to have someone helping us!  We do wish however, that she had bought a different kind of candy!  Durian candy, really?!  If you don’t know what durian is, it’s a fruit in south east asia that smells like a mix between dirty feet and onions!  And yes, that’s about what this candy tasted like too!

This family of 5 was waiting for the ferry too.

We were sooo thankful that she was willing to help us!  Unfortunately, she couldn’t exactly speak English, but she seemed like she knew what she was doing, so we followed her.   I’m wearing that ridiculous poncho because it was pouring rain and I had my camera in my bag… had to cover it up somehow!

After we crossed the river on the ferry, she called a taxi to come pick us up at the ferry terminal.  We were so excited that we had found her to help us get to our home stay!  We all piled into the taxi, and to make a long story short, drove in a HUGE circle, and ended up at a tourist help center. 

Turns out, she had NO IDEA where the home stay was! In fact, we found out later, the home stay was back on the other side of the river! Uuugghhh. Needless to say, she did not get a tip!

So, we then paid $15.00 (which is outrageously expensive for Vietnam) to get a private boat to take us in the dark AND rain, 40 minutes, to our home stay on the other side of the river! We had been grifted, AGAIN!
While we waited for the boat to arrive, we grabbed some dinner in this fancy restaurant on the river.
For 7 spring rolls, I paid $1… Definitely didn't get grifted on that! :)

This was the boat we took!

Aaron speaks for both of us here on how we felt about being grifted by that girl and the last hour and a half detour we had just taken!

Our host family came and met us by the water and guided us through the pitch blackness, to their lovely traditional Vietnamese wooden home, tucked back into the jungle!   This is the front of the home, which is completely open to the outdoors!  Fun thing for us was, we were the only foreigners here!
It was just us and the host family!

Check out that gigantic kitchen!

 The side of the house had hammocks, which Aaron and I took full advantage of after dinner! I could hear, off in the distance, what I thought was a cow, so I asked to Aaron, “Do you hear that cow?” He laughed and said, “Babe, those are bull frogs!” I couldn’t believe a frog could make that kind of noise and said, “Wow! They sound just like cows!” With sarcasm in his voice, and a little tinge of know-it-all-ness, he responded, “Right, hence the name bull frogs!” How is a city girl like me supposed to know all this stuff?!

At the front entrance of the driveway, they had an actual python!  It was huge and they swore it didn't bite! 
I wasn't all that eager to find out if theye were telling the truth!  Eeek!

Part of the fun in doing a homestay is getting to eat a meal, prepared in the home's kitchen, by the host family!  We had eaten just an hour before, but Aaron was determined to see what it was all about, so he asked for dinner!  When she brought it all out, it was GIGANTIC, a feast fit for a king!  SERIOUSLY!  They prepared elephant ear fish, chicken, rice, bananas, vegetables, rice paper, HUGE prawns (one of which was filled with eggs. YIKES!), 2 loaves of french bread, and Vietnamese coffee! 

The fish was the specialty of the meal!  She was really proud of it!  It actually comes from the Mekong River!

I can't remember exactly what these fruits were called, but she brought me a plate of them because I asked if she had any fruit!  They were actually growing from the tree in the front yard!

Here's what they look like on the inside.  They taste a little bit like a grape, but not as sweet, and they're attached to a GIANT black seed in the middle.
The name of the home stay is Bay Thoi... incase anyone ever wants to check it out! :)  I snapped this picture while Aaron and I were out looking for fireflies!

Despite the mishaps in getting here, we are happy to finally be here and are loving our first homestay experience!  We were told that they already have people booked to stay with them tomorrow night, so we wont be able to stay a 2nd night here.  We'll decided, in the morning, whethere to switch homestays or head back to Ho Chi Minh!  We'll see where the wind takes us!

1 comment:

  1. i LOVE that photo of you and aaron in the mirror. favorite. favorite.