Leaving the hive of motorbikes and meeting Jack on another long bus ride we head out to ride the nine dragons of the Mekong Delta. Each boat has eyes, to find its way amongst the myriad of waterways and the tangle of rivers and infrastructure which use this precious resource. Floating on the backs of dragons we meet the stilted legs of villages which line its sides and make our way to a small village of My Tho where we are rowed amongst dense thickets of bamboo to taste the wares of the local bees and abundant tropical fruits. Our boat continues past the islands of other mythical creatures, the Pheonix and the Unicorn which somehow peacefully coexist with the dragons. Another small village harvests coconuts and makes them into candy which we savour as we mount rickety old bicycles to better see the local village of Ben Tre province. Water buffalos wallow in the mud and the roads are quiet and the people peaceful. We find an old abandoned building, beautifully laced with columns and dense gardens becoming a jungle in the back.
My Tho bustles into evening and we wander the streets to discover a fairground twinkling in the dark. Cramming ourselves into the tiny, Asian child sized seats we whizz around the track of a small rollercoaster, knees around our ears. As we reach our floor of the hotel we are greeted by a gaping hole in the wall, an unconstructed room with a bed against the wall. Deep breath and we find another corner to a real room only to be lulled to sleep by good old Cartoon Network.
More boats and the bustling, floating market of Cai Rang. As Emmily savours an elaborately carved pineapple Dotahn buys some Pho from an ancient lady in a small raft next to our boat. It is deliciousness itself and we ignore the washing of the bowls and chopsticks in the river water. Another long boat ride immersed in reading as the water rushes past us and the sun begins to set behind the shanty style housing on the edge of the river. Each house determined to present a different angle, some seemingly defying physics. We reach our hotel which is in the form of a barge on the river and while away the evening exchanging travel stories and laughs with some Brits, French and Americans.
Rice, fish and noodles. The Nine Dragons are afire with industry. Small wages eked out from the land and the waters. Food which is then exported to the rest of the world. We visit a small Cham village, an ornate and pretty muslim village across the river from more abject poverty. We exchange tea and cakes with a couple of elderly ladies in their beautiful home, unable to speak, but easily able to smile. We see some elaborate weaving and pretty blue houses of the village as it prepares to host a meeting with a muslim congregation from Malaysia. We must leave the Mekong as the bus is long and more adventure lie ahead.