Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Today was pagoda day for us in Tra Vinh province in the Mekong Delta, or Kampuchea Krom as everyone called it during our travels today. There are 141 Khmer pagodas in Tra Vinh so we were constantly reminded but we only managed a round ten on our travels south into the Tra Cu region of the Delta. We would've seen more but we spent so much time talking to head monks, drinking tea and eating cake that we had to restrict our pagoda intake. Nevertheless, another great day on our Delta adventures, where the people we've met have been top-drawer and as welcoming as Khmer people are everywhere. Just because they were born in southern Vietnam, they are proud to be Khmer, speak Khmer, think Khmer and act Khmer. It's wonderful to see that they want to keep the Khmer culture alive and the pagodas help them do exactly that. We were invited into every nook and cranny in the largest wats in the region, as well as classrooms and homes, we also eventually found the pre-Angkorian archaeological ruins at Luu Cu with the help of Thong, a friendly monk who joined us in the car for 3 hours on part of our travels. We're staying a 2nd night in Tra Vinh and then will head out early tomorrow morning for the drive to Soc Trang. We'll have to double-back to Can Tho as everyone tells us there is no car ferry to take the direct route to Soc Trang, another Khmer stronghold in the Delta. A word on our driver Thanh, who cannot speak a word of English, is pretty uncommunicative altogether, waits for us to give him directions, cannot read a map and insists on making 3-point turns which holds everyone up for 10 minutes as his 3-point turns usually end up being 6-pointers. He's pretty hopeless but we are seeing some slight improvements so by the end of the trip we may just get him to say 'hello.'