A river story: From Cambodia to Vietnam

In India people said I looked Indian, but they knew I wasn’t. In Thailand, on the other hand, people more like accused me of being Indian, since when I said I wasn’t they wouldnt believe it. I felt like saying “yeah Cristopher Columbus had the exact same dilemma” but I just gave up. In Cambodia people did not know what I was, but they seemed happy enough to see someone with a similar skin color to theirs touristing around.

In the border town of Chau Doc in Vietnam, people have no idea what to make of me. They just stare. A lot.

I got here yesterday by taking a speed boat from Phnom Penh, a beautiful way to go from one country to the next. My first experience with overland borders! In my boat there were four european men and myself. I wondered if any of the migration officers wondered if I was being trafficked from one country to another. I wonder how often that does actually happen and they do nothing to stop it.

I’m on my way to Can Tho, which is supposed to be the epitome of a Mekong Delta town. But today has been a great day, since I woke up to go see the sunrise in the Mekong river, being able to photograph the silhouettes of the boats in the floating market against the rising sun. This is what I had imagined Asia to be. I told the driver of the little boat that was taking me around (a woman for a change!) that I was hungry. I feel like here I eat and I eat yet I’m never full. I’ve actually not had a dessert in weeks, and I’m not missing them. She pulled up to another smaller boat, where another woman was going from boat to boat selling noodle soup. I got some and knocked on the wooden boat that she was not using the beautiful Mekong water. It was the first time I get served a meal with chopsticks, and the boat driver was having a ball watching me try to eat it.

I saw the floating homes of villagers, and the way they dry the fish that I usually see on the land markets. We also stopped by a fish farm, which I believe all to be the same concept worldwide

Going to the market, in spite of having been to many already, was an entirely new experience. Finally a place where I’m the only tourist, so no one is harassing. I tried a fruit I had never had before, milk fruit its called, that tasted like guanabana. A friend of the salesman, of course wearing the everpresent straw hat, came in showing him a leaf with a hanging worm from it. It looked like a silk worm, but I closed in to take a look and the lady started following me around with the worm, teasing me once she realized I was freaking out. She was cracking up, and all her friends joined. First I thought they were all just laughing at me, but when I got a hold of the leaf and started chasing her around with the worm the laughter just grew louder.

Now I’m sitting at the top of the Sam mountain, watching the rice fields burn. I’m supposed to be seeing the sunset, but all is fog, or smog. It’s nice though, calm. And I realize now that this is the ugly part needed to plant some new rice, new sustenance. There is always need to make room for incoming life.

Vietnamese visa: do not get this is your country of origin. They are cheaper if you get them in another country in Asia. I payed $45 USD to have it processed in one day, so that was expensive. You would probably pay about $70 USD if you get it from home.

Cross-country boat ride: It costs $27 USD to go on the speed boat. It was very comfortable, took four hours and I booked it from the hotel. There is a cheaper, slower boat too.

Stay: I stayed in a nice hotel right next to the towns market. It’s been one of the best places I’ve stayed at, so I truly recommend it. Trang Nguyen Hotel (84) 763561561. My room cost $16.00 USD a night and included good breakfast.

Mekong boat ride: I went by myself and it cost $10 USD. It was worth it cause I could ask to stay or leave from each particular place. Make sure the boat has a roof, if not you’ll get as cooked as the fish. My breakfast cost a little less than one dollar.