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Day 11 – August 14
After a 6km run struggling to keep up with Annette and a buffet breakfast we were met by Near for our tour of the Mekong Delta. Our starting point was around 120k which is 2 hours plus driving in Vietnam. There seems to be no shortage of water in the country .The main river where we boarded our vessel is around 20 metres deep.
The market we stopped at was selling various handcrafts clothes and shoes. We were shown how they made a local coconut rice biscuit and how they popped rice – effectively making rice bubbles without the sugar. After being served tea and sampling various goods from the older lady owner we bought some of the produce. We reboarded our boat and were dropped off in a short while to walk down a small side canal to a historic house where we would be served lunch.
Lunch was the usual Vietnamese banquet we were now getting used to , starting with soup and spring rolls . This time it was followed by fish cooked with the scales still on. A waitress demonstrated how to get the flesh off the fish with chopsticks and roll it with other supplied ingredients in rice paper which we then had to do for ourselves . After lunch walked around the orchard and back to our boat .
After getting off the boat we off course had the 2 hour plus drive in the constant Vietnamese traffic back to our hotel.
Later after freshening up we walked around the shops looking at jewellery and some clothing .Eventually we decided on Japanese for dinner , a change from the Vietnamese. On entering our chosen restaurant we were eagerly met by a throng of young staff – clearly business must have been a bit slow tonight . With the language issues Annette again received the wrong meal – maybe her pointing finger will work better with new glasses.
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Day 9 -August 12th
After a long early morning swim and buffet breakfast we were picked up at 0930 for the drive back to the airport at Da Nang to fly to Ho Chi Minh City. Due to the errors in our tickets Lily and I were flying Business class – pity it was only a one hour flight. At the airport at Ho Chi Minh the driver , as always ,grabbed my bag and carried it and let the girls wheel theirs. The differences in Saigon were immediately noticeable with large colonial buildings and wide roads , clearly a French influence. The large number of mopeds were still here however. We arrived at the famous Hotel Continental , which has housed notaries such as Graham Greene and the dignitaries in 1975 to discuss the future of Vietnam at the conclusion of the Vietnam War.
On walking around the city it was clear the mopeds far more aggressively than elsewhere including Hanoi – cross at your own peril ! The hawkers were more aggressive too and Lil ,of all things , bought a hammock. We found a bakery for lunch but there was a clear language barrier in getting our chosen items. Following lunch we walked the long way back to the hotel and went past some medical shops at which just about anything could be bought including surgical instruments and glass syringes.
We were looking for the Temple Club but couldn’t find its secluded entrance so dinner was at a small restaurant where we again had much difficulty in getting our orders again and they insisted on us having the chicken cartilage – it was all looking like an episode of Fawlty Towers – don’t mention the war!
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Day 8 -August 11th
The tour itinerary said “free day” in Hoi An. So Annette and I started early with a 6 km run along the beach – clearly I had to be on my game as she runs much quicker than I. The followed a swim in the warm waters and the usual buffet breakfast. We took the shuttle into town later . Annette and I ordered glasses at one of the optometrists , I suspect at much lower prices than back home. We then stopped at a nearby cafe for coffee – seems some of them can do Italian coffee as well as Vietnamese.
We split up after this with Annette going off to look at jewellery. We stopped at street side shop for coconut drink. Following this it was back to Viettown Silk for the final fitting then the 4.30 shuttle back to Golden Sands for more swimming in the beach and the 140 metre swimming pool.
For dinner we walked down to the nearby seafood restaurants this time picking the first . I ordered , of course , the grilled fish. Whilst this was butterflied and laced with herbs it was not up to the quality of Mama Ly’s.