After a completely enjoyable week on the beach, it was time to head down to Vietnam. I booked a combination bus/boat taxi service down to the town of Chao Doc and then on to Saigon. All together it would take two days to make the trip, which I wasn’t aware of until we’d stopped for the first night. My first impressions of Vietnam are that it is one of the friendliest places I’ve ever seen. Kids are everywhere, and they just want to keep talking and talking to all the round-eyes. The really nice thing is that they’re not asking for money or pens, or anything at all, which is quite a contrast to the Cambodian kids. At one rest stop, I pulled out my camera and the kids just went wild. They all insisted on being in a picture with me and the other tourists; eventually I had to just pretend to take pictures or I’d have run out of film!
The Delta itself was beautiful; warm muddy water with tropical tree lined villages all along the banks. Every time we passed a village kids would come running out of the houses waving and yelling at us “Hi Mister!” over and over again. It was amazing to see how happy the kids were even though the places that they were living in were nothing but shacks to western standards.
River life is incredible;you see everything happening…people washing, buffalo swimming, and even entire market places are operating. We visited one of these floating markets for a while just to see how they operated. Vendors would pile their boats with as much produce as they could, and they’d tie one of each type of fruit they were selling to a tall bamboo pole. Buyers would row around looking for the masts with what they wanted to buy, and an intense discussion would follow until they arrived at a mutually acceptable price and both parties left more or less happy.