03.02.2009 94 °F
I know Conrad is posting about his view of the trip as we speak, so I won't rehash the details of the trip, but rather tell you what I enjoyed most/least about the trip.
First off, I think it was the perfect way for us to end our time in Vietnam. I really couldn't imagine ending it on a more positive note. We spent two days living life as a Vietnamese person in the heart of the Mekong Delta. We did one of those "off the beaten path" trips to the delta, and we literally saw no other tourists the entire weekend, aside from the German couple who was part of our trip and the few tourists who took the same speedboat to the delta. The boat dropped us off on a handmade bamboo pier for our host family. We opted to do a homestay with a family that has two huge farms full of various delta fruits. We cooked with the family, walked with the family, ate with the family, drank with the family, etc. We slept under mosquito nets and used their same outhouse (although they did have an old wooden one that i think and hope they retired).
What I liked most: seeing no other tourists, having the many village kids run out of their houses to wave to us and say hello, eating the delicious food, learning how to prepare the delicious food (they use sugar in everything, salt minimally), cheers-ing with our host dad, touring the family's farmland and eating the fruits they grow and are so proud of, biking along the canals off the delta, seeing the action of the local floating market (again no other tourists there, no one harassing us to buy random stuff, they just did business as usual), the weather, shopping for goods to make our own lunch with at the land market and speaking in vietnamese with the sellers, buying one of my favorite flowers (stargazer lilies) to our host mom as a thank you gift and giving her a hug before we left.
What I liked least: our tour guide's hurried behavior throughout the entire trip (he was a speed racing biker and walker - and I walk fast so for me to say he walked too fast is a BIG deal), the fact that i was biking so fast to keep up with our tour guide i often didnt get to enjoy the landscape as much as i wanted or wave to as many kids as i wanted, the fact that we couldnt stay and play with all the kids i wanted, the fact that once the family went to bed they locked the doors and turned off the power so when I woke up at 11pm to go pee I couldn't see or even get out of the house to go to the outhouse and pee (It was HORRIBLE! my bladder was going to explode, so I had to get creative and basically peed in a thick plastic bag - lowlight of my entire trip, believe me! Conrad suggested I pee in a water bottle, but I do not have the skill to pee in a tiny opening in the pitch black), the fact that 4 of the family's roosters started non-stop crowing at 3:46am and continued through the whole morning, the 4.5 hr drive back to Ho Chi Minh through rush hour traffic
So here we are in Ho Chi Minh for our last night in Vietnam...I am sad to say good-bye to Vietnam. I really love this country and everything the Vietnamese people represent (hard work, determination for improvement in so many realms, and a developing country that is making strides little by little). I am so glad I got to experience parts of it. We are already planning our next trip in Vietnam, so I am certain I will get back sometime in life.
Now it's on to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I have been waiting to see Angkor Wat since 2003, so I couldn't be happier about this trip. Unfortunately we wont get to spend too much time there, since we have so little time left for this vacation.