Once more we cross that imaginary line that splits hills, forests and water that marks one country from another.
This time it was the line between Cambodia and Vietnam. And as we have come to expect with all S.E.Asia border crossings it was far from simple and straightforward. It was mind bogglingly complicated, with its real aim not to get you to your destination but to cause the most frustration and confusion to Westerners – and light entertainment for locals – as we lug bags from one minivan, to a bus, to a minivan, to a boat, to a minivan to a…
But all’s well that ends well and we have managed to arrive in Vinh Long (tired) just in time for a very late supper and some sleep, booking onto our Mekong river tour before we turn in for the night.
We wake to the screech of an alarm clock and like zombies go through the motions of ‘waking up’. But it is no good and so with sleep wracking our eyes, bones and body we stagger our way down to the pier.
As we pull away from the pier and set off lazily through the delta the sleep starts to recede as we are greeted by a chill, refreshing morning air that is both revitalising and calming and a mellow sunrise.
The serene ride, along with a laid back french couple – whose names I don’t think we ever got – was a perfect antidote to our previous day’s arduous travel… And the coffee from a boat in the market did no harm either.
And so our morning hours were meandered through by passing down small canals, seeing the local people of the delta wake to their daily life’s.
We saw how traditional delicacies were made – rice paper, coconut candy, pop-rice – and were able to experience traditional music, tea and honey. We also passed through the floating market which was unfortunately very, very quiet. Some boats selling watermelons and other types of fruit, but as our guide informed us, ‘it is easier to go to land markets on motorbikes than maintain a boat and come here, so the market is slowly dying’.
It is sad that this way of life is slipping away, although I’m sure in more touristy spots the markets live on. However, as we have seen throughout this trip change is inevitable and it is something better embraced than fought against.
And so now another change for us. We leave Vinh Long behind us and forge a path to Ho Chi Minh City!