Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Delta day 2

The first rays of daylight on the Bassac River at Chau Doc
Our second day in the Mekong Delta began early doors at 6am. We'd arranged for a boat to take us to the early morning market in the middle of the Bassac River, also known as Hau Giang River, just a kilometre or so from the Victoria Hotel, our luxury digs for the three nights we spent in Chau Doc, the largest town near the Cambodian border. Our boat captain was a smiling middle-aged woman named Mai. The floating market turned out to be a wholesale market with the larger vessels off-loading their produce of mainly fruit and vegetables, to smaller craft. Amongst the flotilla of boats bobbing around the river were much smaller rowboats, manned by women in the main, with a breakfast menu, meeting the early morning food needs of the riverfolk. After unsuccessfully trying to get some good photos, Mai turned the boat around and we retraced our route to a floating village opposite the hotel, just off the corner of Con Tien island. We called in at a couple of houses that doubled as fish farms with holds full of river fish, who went crazy when Mai dropped in some fish food pellets, thrashing about with abandon, a few of them jumping out of the hold and onto the floorboards of the family home. Mai indicated that the fish were raised in suspended metal nets and fed scraps by the houseowners who then sell the fish when they are big enough. We continued our slow weave through the floating houses before heading for a Cham village on the island, where we got off the boat, wandered around, declined the offer of cotton scarves and knick-knacks and then returned to the boat and the hotel, in time for an 8.30am breakfast. The busy market stalls, that blocked quite a few streets stretching from the riverside was our next destination, the fish sellers were particularly vocal and boisterous, as Tim and I decided on a look around Chau Doc town, popping into a couple of Chinese-style pagodas as we often do before heading back to the hotel, just before the heavens opened. With the persistent rain frustrating our desires for more wandering, we played pool after lunch, chatted to Nga the lovely bar attendant, remained at the hotel for a three-course dinner in the Bassac Restaurant and then retired to our very comfortable rooms after a less than strenuous 2nd day in the Delta.
This is a Bassac River version of a breakfast cafe
Workers on their way across the early morning ferry at Chau Doc
Mai feeding the hungry fish at the fish farm
Washing the breakfast dishes in the Bassac River
One of the nicely decorated floating houses off Con Tien island
Gutting a fish with scissors just outside the Cham village
A Cham baby gets his feet dirty
A renovated French colonial building at the Mekong restaurant, opposite our hotel
French Colonial and Chinese shop-houses were in evidence in Chau Doc

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