Between moving and the snow I have seriously been slacking on getting stuff written. I suppose I could have yesterday as I laid around watching movies all day, but it didn't happen. So with no further ado...
Nghia picked us up and we were on tour! I think having a personal tour guide is the way to travel. You're not waiting around while the 20 other people take pictures and ask their questions; everything we did was catered to exactly what Brian and I wanted to do. We left Saigon, hit a market, a rubber tree farm, lounged in hammocks, stopped to see some water buffalo, all before we even hit our first destination; the Tunnels. What a trip they were. I had no idea that they even existed. For those of you like me, here's a brief background. During the "American" war the Vietnamese citizens not at war took cover. They dug tunnels and created an underground city 250 km long! There were thousands of people down there and they would pop up here and there to kill American soldiers. They built tons of homemade traps and basically did whatever they could to protect their families in the middle of the jungle...underground. So that was a really interesting experience.
Another 3 hours back on the bike (my butt has never been so sore, nor my body so dirty and covered in dust!) and we're down in the Mekong River Delta. Nghia hooks Brian and I up with some dog soup and retires for the evening. Dog is good. Tastes like beef but more tender and it just slides off the bone. Brian and I wandered the streets (we still don't know what town we were in) and when we came back to our hotel, which was more of a compound, there was an anniversary party going on. This family of 10+ people invited us to join. One young guy could speak a bit of English, but you could tell 90% of what we said was lost. We ate some of their duck soup, had some cake, and they poured beers down our throats. I think come 10 pm everyone was tanked! It was such a riot and we learned some Vietnamese while we were at it (Vo!).
Next day we hit up some more markets, a French war history museum, and took a boat trip down the Mekong. The best part of the boat trip was definitely fishing for alligators. Nghia said something along the lines, "want to fish for alligators," me thinking there's something lost in translation assumes he's taking us to see fish and alligators. No he meant want to fish FOR alligators. We get to a pit of 10 alligators and Nghia hands both Brian and I a bamboo pole with a string and some raw meat hanging from the end! You then have to dangle the meat above the alligators to make them jump out of the water. It was hilarious!!!! I was really good too and kept the alligators going without losing my meat. I finally felt bad and fed one because I had been stringing him along for some time. We probably fished for alligators for a solid 30 minutes!
After a mani/pedi for me, and haircut/shave for Brian we head back to the hotel for some relax time. Next AM we're up and out again. This time to see a GIANT happy Buddha and a snake farm! The snake farm wasn't as scary as I thought it would be and there were tons of other animals there too. Porcupines, monkeys, peacocks, turtles etc. Then it was time to bid Nghia farewell :( We didn't know where we were, he could have just left us there in the jungle. (Not even a clue if we were East or West side of Southern Vietnam). But he didn't. Nghia put us on a (nightmare) bus to Chu Doc which is where we could catch the boat up to Cambodia.
The bus was packed. No A/C. Nowhere to store our backpacks except on our laps. And they kept picking up more people! Little kids were jumping onto strangers laps and people were sitting in the aisles. A short (right) 6 hours later and we were in Chu Doc. We learned that we could not catch a boat until the next day so we would have to spend the night. I was totally bummed by the prospect of missing a night in Phnom Phen (later learn this is certainly no tragedy) but we had no choice.
After showering up Brian and I head out to explore. We stop for a cold beer and meet Kavi, a Ecuadorian world traveller. He currently lives in Nepal, and seems to be the happiest most enlightened person I have ever met. We end up going out with him at night and he takes us to his favorite street cart (he's been in Chu Doc for a few days at this point.) We enjoy grilled dried fish and fresh herbs and sauce while sitting 6" off the ground on little stools. We had such a blast chillin with the family who owned the cart! They were our adopted Vietnamese family! I think they really enjoyed the fact we wanted to know about them and what they did and weren't the typical party time tourists. Not that you could really have party time in Chu Doc!
Next AM at 7 and Brian and I head out on a pedicab for a 5 hour boat ride into Phnom Phen, Cambodia....