posted on Friday, March 13, 2009

Mekong Delta

Today started early as I had booked a day trip to the Mekong Delta. Our guide for the day was Thanh, 'winner' as it can be translated from vietnamese! He started the tour with interesting facts about how much of a change Vietnam has experienced since embracing the free market in 1986. He recalled how tough things were when everything was rationed and divided equally among the population. If I had any doubts about which language I should never try to learn, they have been cleared. Vietnamese...
He gave us some examples using the simple syllable MA; apparently vietnamese has 6 tones too many and this simple sound can be transformed into 6 completely different meanings. Of course the differences were not that clear to an untrained italian ear. If I had ever to live here I think I would rather play dumb and embrace sign language, at least that way I wouldn't risk offending anybody because I pronounced something MA instead of MA! The day tour of course could only give a taste of this very fertile regions, where a bounty of rice crops and fruits as well as fish easily feed the whole country with a healthy surplus left for export too! Vietnam seems always second when it gets to exports and I wonder if that is accepted with sportsmanship or rather leaves a sour taste. Second world exporter of rice as well as coffee. Thanks god for that because as I said my addicting side means that vietnamese coffee is definetely getting the best of me and it didn't take long. After the bus journey to the delta we toured 4 hours by boat with a couple of stops in small villages including a trip by rowing boat through a narrow strip of water covered by thick vegetation. I tasted fruits I had never heard or seen and on a personal note even managed to have a picture taken with a python round my neck! Not bad from someone that normally would be scared stiff of snakes. This evening 30 minutes rickshaw trip to one of the best restaurants in town, Tib. Even the large framed photographs of G.W. Bush hanging all over the place could not spoil the most delicious food. I ended the day in a stylish open air cafe called Serenata, set in a beautifully restored colonial house, where you can sit outside in a patio and enjoy the live music. Tomorrow last day spent in Saigon before flying to central Vietnam in the evening.