Our boats for day 2 of the Mekong Delta Trip
Today we started the second part of our journey to Phnom Penh and it was a
really early start as we were leaving the hotel at 7am. We got breakfast in the
hotel, again part of $26 ticket, and again it was egg based but its normal
enough now. I wonder do they grow cereals over here at all.
The bus journey lasted about 5 minutes; all it was doing was
taking us down to the waterfront to catch another boat. This boat was to take
us to a floating fishing village an then into a Cham ethnic minority village
where some of the poorest people of Vietnam live. The trip to the
floating fishing village was short but refreshing at that time of the morning!
We had already seen a fishing village in Halong Bay
where they catch fish naturally and then put them in cages to sell to tourists
This fishing village was different though as it was more of a fish
farm, than a fishing village. The houses had their entire underneath caged off
down to about 7m and they just bred fish there on fish food. The house we were
at was about 12m by about 15m, the cage went down 7m and it housed
approximately 40,000 fish. The people that owned this fish farms were quite
rich with some of them having 5 or 6 houses beside each other, all as part of
the same fish farm.
A local going fishing on the river
From the fish farm we made our way further up the river to the
Cham village. It was immediately evident the difference in wealth with the Cham
people living in quite primitive houses along the banks with only small single
person boats, compared to the floating fishing village houses with their
satellite dishes and electricity as well as the large boats they owned. We got
a brief tour of the village before we were given time to look at the various
crafts that were for sale, all made by the Cham people themselves.
the Cham village we continued up the Tonle
heading towards the border stop. At about 10:35 we saw our first part of Cambodia. We
were heading up one of the tributary rivers to the Meekong and the land in
front was Cambodia and the
land on either side was Vietnam,
strange layout but that was the way it was.
1 families fishing village.farm .... these are some of the richest people living in the Meekong Delta
We continued further up the river and at about 12:30 we got to
our Vietnamese border checkpoint where we were to have lunch. We were supposed
to have approximately an hour break before switching both guides and boats from
Vietnam to Cambodia but, as a person on the boat coming the other way from
Cambodia to Vietnam, had changed the date on their visa stamp, they ended up causing
about a 2 hour delay as it was sorted out.
Our guide told us that the fine for
this was about 2 million Vietnamese Dong or about $120, not something I'd
recommend to anyone!
A trap door to feed the fish beneath the buildings of the floating fishing village
At about 3 o clock we finally made it across the border crossing
and thankfully no one from our group had any problems. I suppose being 2 hours
late was bad enough. From here it was back on the boat again and we spent
another 3 hours cruising up the Meekong
River. This was actually
very chilled, we were back on the main Meekong again and there were boats of
all sorts going about their daily routine up and down the river! As of the
delay we also got to see the sun going down over the banks of the Meekong again
for the second time of the Southeast Asia trip.
For anyone like us, on a long trip, spending as much time as possible on the
Meekong really is relaxing, yeah the boat seats might not be as comfortable as
a bus, but you get to meet some great people and take in some of the real
culture that focuses itself along this great river.
A fishing boat in the Meekong Delta
We finally docked the boat at what looked to be a private jetty
at the back of one of the houses along the Meekong. We climbed the bank and all
gathered at the front of a shed beside the house. We were all a little confused
as the boat driver didn't have any English so we'd no idea what we were to do next.
Then a bus pulled up outside the shed and the sight didn't fill us with much
confidence. They started packing the bags on to it through the back window, why
they didn't pack them into the luggage hold puzzled me but it became clear
later on. After loading all the bags in, we started to get on the bus.
looked even worse from the inside and we ended up in the last seat at the back.
The seat in front wasn't parallel to ours either, I wasn't really complaining
as I had more leg room, but after a few minutes we noticed that the seat leg on
the inside had actually gone down through the floor ... that's why they didn't
put the luggage underneath, there probably was no underneath!
The buildings as part of the Cham ethnic minority village
After packing all of us onto the rickety bus we set off and
after several miles it became apparent why the bus was so rickety, the road was
a disaster. They were improving stretches and you could see all the machinery
and rubble along the road but bits that they weren't doing up and had no
machinery were just as bad! After 90 minutes of a backside breaking bus we were
very glad to get off it in Phnom Penh
though it was very late.
The Cham ethnic minority people
We were dropped off at the tour company 'suggested' hotel but
practically all of us wanted to stay in a different district of the city, so we
all jumped into tuk-tuks and headed for the area beside Boeng Kak Lake. Song (Korea) got into our tuk-tuk with
myself and Caroline and off the 3 of us headed. Well arriving late was proving
to be a problem, as everywhere we checked in the area was already fully booked
up, so we got back into another tuk-tuk and headed to the second most popular
area in town, along the lake front where we found a cheap $8 guesthouse that
was clean and tidy and had rooms for both myself, Caroline and Song.
After settling in, the 3 of us headed down the waterfront to get
something to eat.
We stopped at the first restaurant we came to and I decided
to order a traditional Cambodian dish 'Fish Amok'. Fish Amok is a fish, coconut
and lemongrass curry served in a banana leaf. It didn't turn out to be that
nice and the lemongrass was a little overpowering for my tastes but it was
edible. After dinner we headed back to the guesthouse for some sleep and to
rest our bodies after the bone breaking bus!
A local Cham girl .. some of the poorest people in the Meekong Delta