Friday, 9 May 2008

7.00 breakfast again

28/4 - Packed and over to the riverside cafe for another 7.00 am Trung meeting. Phuc was there too, still said the same as you thought. A little later a young lady and her sister showed up and sat at a table nearby. They rent a shop from Trung, he lives upstairs. They got badgered into joining us. The lass who rents it is a beautician. She looked at me and just sighed. I think the sigh said, beyond help. She was determined to teach me some Vietnamese, which was very nice. I can now say "I love you glass." in Vietnamese. I have forgotten the rest. Her sister just kept scowling at me, but between the 2 of them, they livened up the morning. Trung and Phuc can sit and doss for Vietnam, so I disappeared for a while to pay some bills on the internet, that my secretary daughter had informed me of. When I got back Phuc and the ladies were gone, but Lin was there from Vinh Sang, not a good swap. I am staying at Vinh Sang tonight, the night I was cornered into a night or so ago. It is on the island An Binh, so I picked up my bags and we left for the ferry. Trung is not so confident on his moto, but we got there in the end. I was not sure about coming over here. I thought they would leave me to have a bit of free time, but not so, Trung and Lin escorted me everywhere, which is good, but the conversation is not very fluent and can get hard work, but they are showing me around, so a bit of English help is a fair swap. Being unsure was soon wiped away anyway. There was a couple of hundred metres to walk with my bag, Trung took the small one, so I had a real dab on when we made it. Diep, my unofficial, adopted, daughter came running up to me and gave me a big hug, sweat and all, she tried to rip the rucksack off my back to carry it for me and when I wouldnt let her, she started wafting me with her nun la, (I think) Vietnamese coned hat, when I dumped my pack she was pulling my T-shirt away from my back and wafting me. She is a lovely character. Dung came over to say hello too. She is a stunner. Diep had to disappear, but Dung sat with us for some fried noodles and veg and took pity on me filling up my bowl when she spotted it was empty. Yet another slight on my chopstick skills, or she is just polite, or probably both. I got checked into my room. A wooden box on stilts over the Mekong and very nice too. Lin seems to be running the show and suggests we go for a swim. Trung had spotted my fins and was dying to try them out. Lin helped himself to my coconut toffees and started throwing them down his neck. I told him to leave them on my bed, so was a bit miffed when he produced them from his pocket later and finished them off. The swim was in the Mekong. I have been dying to go in. It is a bit murky and like a warm bath. It was a good do. I am not getting enough exercise on this trip, so the more the better. Luckily enough I am not getting too much beer either. Mind you I could meet up with our Beccy in Australia. We were sat drying off and Lin is hustling us to go and get changed to go for karaoke in the bar/restaurant. I was getting a bit hacked off with being driven along, so dragged my heels a bit. When we got back to the room, he was hustling us to get dressed, so I dragged my heels a bit and sat watching the Mekong, chilling. My sisters may be right, perhaps I am an awkward bugger. Trung made a brew too, now this is more like it. Hustle time arrived again, but now was changed from karaoke to billiards without pockets, French billiards. It must be a pasttime here, because these 2 gave me a right hiding. It's hustle time again and we are off for karaoke, so I dragged my heels and sipped my iced coffee. My sisters are right. Lin is becoming a real pain in the backside, but once he sat at the keyboards he's pretty good. There's not another soul in the place, but Trung is giving it rice on the karaoke, he is pretty good too. Dung came over and they sang some duets. She's a singing stunner and she got even better when she took us for some rice wine, free rice wine. Can it get any better. It is very nice. I think this is what the rowdy old fellas were feeding me the other day, but watered down. This stuff is spirit, not wine, it gives that warm glow as it travels down your throat. It is brewed here in the bar. The still is at the back. Apparently, like all good things, it comes in different qualities. This was good stuff. Lin had to go to work elsewhere, what a shame. Dung is trying to learn English, so she brought her book over and we had a bit of a lesson. I can't help getting the feeling I am not the best person to teach English. Diep has been busy all day, so far, but keeps popping over and introducing me to her mates as her Dad. It always gets a laugh, perhaps because she is Vietnamese and 4 foot nothing and I am 6 foot 2 and white. Before I knew it mealtime was back. I let Trung do the ordering and I ordered a beer. His English is coming on a bit, but I get respite during the food. He can chuck it down his neck. The food was a do-it-yourself seafood hotpot, lau ca, I think. It was smashing again. When we were done, the lass who had been waiting on, Xuan, I don't have a clue how to say it, came over and sat with us. The staff here are really friendly and casual, except for Diep, she is friendly and bubbly. Trung has to translate, Xuan is divorced and looking for a husband as far as I can tell. Her 5 year old son is living with his Dad, because he is rich and Xuan works all month getting 2 days off only, to go and see her son. Something stinks and it is not me. Lots of fodder here for the grumpy old man. She is very nice, but I didn't volunteer to be hubby 2. I am not sure if she is sizing up Trung. Dung turned up after work, to make divorcee number 4. It is like Blind Date. We had a natter, with Trung translating still, now he is flagging. I think the translation is less than 50% good, but a damn site better than I can do. We called it a night as he was flagging and had to moto home, the electric had gone again too. He never seems to work, so that wasn't a problem. He was telling me that Dung supports her parents and brother. The country seems in good state, but perhaps it is not. He told me that inflation is very high and the price of rice has gone up again this week. Bloody politicians are useless.
Trung came back to my room to pick up some gear and tried to arrange a 7.00 pick up for coffee, but managed to get out of that one, it was a close call. It's been a smashing night and still is, so I dragged my chair out onto the walkway around my box and contemplated the Mekong and read a bit. Some lads had setup some rods dangling over the edge, through the weeds after catfish. It is loved around here. One of the lads appeared and spoke great English with a French accent. He is Vietnamese and lives in Quebec. He comes back to Vietnam to miss the Canadian winters, what a good life. He suddenly scarpered, he had a bite on a rod on the other walkway. There was a right rucus and some running around, so I went over in the dark to see 3 of them land a catfish about 12 - 15 lbs. I don't think they are regular fishermen, one of them ended up in the Mekong amongst the weeds. I called it quits and went to bed leaving these 3 excited like little school boys. I heard a rucus in the night. When I met the lad in the morning, they had caught a bigger catfish later on. He was still excited in the morning. He had photos to show his family.

Back on the Mekong, I love it.

27/4 - Another early start. I'm off on a boat trip at 7.00. Trung tried to get me to meet him for coffee at 6.00, but I managed to side step that one, I used diplomacy and said NO!!!
I expected the boat trip would be full of tourists. Lam picked me up at the hotel spot on time and we walked along the riverfront and jumped in his boat, just me and him, pretty exclusive. It could do with a lick of paint, but it is just the job. We set off across the Mekong river, heading for Cai Be floating market. This delta is a huge set of huge rivers. I love cruising on the Mekong, it is very relaxing and there's plenty of traffic of all sorts of boats and lots of action going on, so there is plenty to keep me amused as I chill on my seat. We passed loads of big boats stacked high with rice husks that are used for burning. Each boat has its own crew of 4 or 5 and big wicker baskets that they use to load and unload the husks manually. I've seen the lads in action, they earn their corn. On every one of these boats there was 1 lad steering and the rest were fast on in hammocks suspended at the back of the boat. They can sleep at the drop of a hat around here. We passed several villages where retailers, wholesalers and workshops opened out onto the river for ease of loading. It seems like it would be a good way to live, by boat, more relaxed than the car mayhem in the UK, perhaps we should flood the country, perhaps we wont have to with Mr Global Warming having a say. Is that the Grumpy old man chipping in again?
Lam pulled over at a petrol station for a few litres. He was telling me that his boat was kitted out as a home and 7 of them sailed around the Mekong Delta for 2 years, working as they went. It had to be cleared with the police before they could set off and an itinerary given, although I can't see it being very exact for 2 years, or perhaps it is only me that can't stick to a plan. He said he had a bit of problem with some locals shopping him to the police, because they thought he was illegal and some asking for money or they would shop him, but when he threatened to go to the police, they backed off. He was saying he had a few police searches on the way. There is a lot of smuggling goes on around the Delta, especially to Cambodia, from what I hear. I think I could handle cruising around the Delta working along the way. I wonder if they have wifi on the delta, so I can dial in.
It took about an hour to get to the floating market, but it flew by. At the market, there are big boats full of produce. 1 boat may be full of 1 product, like pineapples or 2 or 3 products. They are mostly fruit and veg. The big boats sell onto smaller boats, or other big boats. The suppliers are generally farmers who have sailed into market. One boat was off-loading pineapples in a production line of lads, throwing them 2 at a time. I bet that owner was a happy farmer. There was a young lass loading up sacks and weighing them, with what looked like dirty potatoes. Each boat seems to be a family or couples business. A lot of the customers are women, or groups of women in boats. We passed a few boats with a group of women having a good natter on the way to the market, as one steered the boat. It is a big produce market and quite impressive, in fact very impressive, to me. There is a cathedral overlooking matters from the shore, so no dodgy dealing please. We did a circuit of the market, down both sides. It is village life on water and very pleasing to see.
We headed across the river, still the Mekong I think, there are so many big rivers and we stopped at a coconut candy making place. Coconut toffees to us Brits. 3 women are making them from scratch and wrapping each one by hand, so Lam showed me the process. I had to buy some, the samples were lovely. We had a brew, local tea, which is also lovely and a few more samples.
We carried on crossing through an island on small tree lined rivers, very picturesque, this is a smashing place and I didn't remember the name. Along the way there are several boats full of mud, with blokes hoying it onto the banks to build them up against flooding. No wonder the blokes around the Vietnam countryside are mostly well toned, they put in some work. Perhaps I should volunteer for a few days work, except I'd get the sack. These rivers are really lovely. I spotted a couple of types of kingfishers along the banks, similar to back home and just as beautiful. Some farmers passed us going to market with boat loads of rambutan, a spikey fruit that tastes almost as good as it looks. Next stop was a bonsai garden, I guess we are on the tourist route. I had a wander around, while Lam hit the hammock. I checked out the fruit trees as much as the bonsai trees, there's all sorts around here. I went to join Lam and a plate of fruit was dished up with more very nice tea. This is the life. The grapefruit are huge and left a week to get rid of the bitter taste, a shame as I like it. The mangoes are juicy and tasty and there is another fruit whose name I forget, that is very sour. These are the ones Jack the lad gave me in Chau Doc, but are a different colour, so I was duped. I skipped the bananas and we sailed off again. We were headed for a nursery garden, which I was not sure about, but Lam's mate phoned and Lam came along and said he had an idea. Instead of the nursery garden, we could go to see his friend, about 20 minutes away and have some rice wine, he is having a party after coming home for a few days. It sounded like a good idea to me. It was, but there was one problem, when we got there, we went to the wrong friend. Same name, different bloke. The second one lived about an hour away, so we gave it a miss and headed back to Vinh Long. I got some extra time on the Mekong, which was good. We were going to do a bit of catfish fishing, but I think that idea timed out. Lam saw me looking at the nets he had on the boat, that's where that idea came from. I have had a good day, a smashing experience. I'm easily pleased, despite what you lot say.
When we got back to town, the electricity was off, so that knocked the e-fix on the head. I wandered aimlessly. Surprised??? Me neither. Picked up a baguette from a street corner lady, not one of those street corner ladies, a one selling baguettes. It had all sorts on it. I found a bench in a pagoda grounds and got stuck in. A couple of kids wandered over, closely followed by their Mams and a couple more kids. The Mams were getting their chops around some tea in the pagoda garden when I strolled in like John Wayne with a wiggle. The Mams didn't speak English, but still managed to get across the message "What's wrong with your legs?" but it is hard to gesticulate muscular dystrophy. I keep trying and everyone keeps nodding, but somehow I think the message is not getting across. Without any English, one of the Mams also managed to ask for some money for each of her 3 kids, but I didn't go for it and handed out my packet of biscuits instead. The kids seemed happy. I don't think I'll ever get to finish a packet of biscuits.
A clothes and jewellry street market setup whilst I was sitting and chewing the fat, in both senses of the words, so I took a wander through. It was pretty good and I bought a couple of hair clips for Diep and Dung when we go to see them tomorrow, then wandered back to the river. It is like a Gil magnet. There are street vendors everywhere, especially in the evenings. I bought some fried snacks from one, if you want to know what they were, you will have to ask her. They were tasty though and she laughed when I nodded everytime she pointed to something to put on them.
The power came back, so I thought I'd hit the internet. Shows how much I know. The first one was closing at 21:15 and the second has a little old lady, who everytime she sees me just shouts NO NO NO. It's the second time I've tried with the same reaction, first time it was full. She needs to learn some manners, she has got the grumpy old lady thing all wrong. I gave up with the internet plan and went back to my balcony with a can of beer to listen to the karaoke and read. A better plan by far.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

7 a.m. breakfast, bloody hell.

26/4 - Trung was waiting for me at the cafe and enthusiastic to brush up his English. He invited his tennis mate, Phuc, said almost as you thought. We sat about 3 hours trying to chat. I was knackered at the end of it and needed to relax, so I hired a bike and peddled out of town, looking for a temple, which as normal, I missed, but as normal, for the best. I ended up on an up and down paving stone track along the side of the river, not the Mekong, a small tributary. It was part residential and part industrial. Rice mills, coffin maker, carpenters, a good mixture of professions. I did a dodgy U turn when the track narrowed, got closer to the river and became dirt. I thought it for the best. As normal, I found the temple on the way back, but it was shut for dinner or prayers, probably the latter, so I carried on and hit the school rush hour. Not like the UK one, said the grumpy old man, much healthier. Hundreds of kids on bike with lovely, silky, white uniforms. I survived all the hellos and smiles, did a few laps of somewhere I'll never find again, had a baguette with heaven knows what on and went for a siesta. I'm getting the hang of this siesta lark. Trung was going to pick me up on his motorbike at 17:00, but rang to change it to 16:00, which curtailed the siesta. It has been overcast all day, which was nice and now it has started spitting, but undetered we set of for a ferry across the Mekong to An Binh island. I was going to go over on the bike, but Trung offered his services and I didn't like to say no, even though I was a bit unsure about the language struggle. Off the ferry onto a short piece of road, then onto more of a pavement than a road, like this morning and we ended up at a mini zoo, park, resort kind of place, Vinh Sang. I had no idea this was the plan, but it was OK. Some peacocks and peahens, horses, crocodiles, that you can fish for, but really it means feed. Some ostriches that you can ride, a couple of bears and a few monkies crammed into cages. The grumpy old man would say "They wouldn't allow this back home", but this isn't back home. When we were passing the restaurant to the crocodiles, a young lass, Diep, came running out shouting hello and waving like crazy. She is a smashing lass and very excited to see such a good looking young man, but I never saw him pass. She works in the restaurant, but wandered around with us. She is very bubbly and it is infectious. Her face lights up when she smiles. She looks about 19, but is 22.
The rain kicked in heavy now, so we hovered around outside the restaurant and were eventually persuaded inside. Trung ordered some food, very nice squid and beef and I ordered a beer. The food is good and I was not surprised to find the karaoke in full swing. There was a lot of traditional singing, which I was not sure about to begin with, but it grew on me, especially when a lovely lass, Dung, pronounced Yum, got singing, she has a lovely mellow voice. Some classical music was played too and that was good. I'm not sure I would buy the traditional music. Perhaps if I understood Vietnamese as the songs tell stories. The guitar used is very highly strung, that can be a bit wearing. Anyway, after the music the guitarist came to join us, Lin. He is an old college buddy of Trung. Diep came over too, as she was done waiting on, she really is lovely and with Trung and Lin interpretting, she asked me to be her Dad. I tried to explain through Trung that it would not be easy, me being in England and her in Vietnam, but couldn't get the message across, so agreed. I now have an adopted daughter. She was chuffed to bits. It was very touching. I was embarrassingly chuffed. Lin was continually trying to get me to cough up dosh or presents for Diep and Dung, but Trung spotted it and put a stop to it, or seemed to. Lin was also trying to marry me off to Dung. If I was only 20 years younger. She seemed a little interested too, or perhaps that was just wishful thinking on my part. Lin then tried to match her up with our Gil, but I explained Rebecca would not be happy. Dung seems keen to leave Vietnam. I think she is still upset after her divorce. This trip is turning me into an agony aunt. Dung is a very beautiful, young lady, especially dressed in the traditional clothing. It is easy to see how blokes come to S.E. Asia and go home with a wife. I was a bit worried when Dung and Diep said I was handsome, but then I remembered they guessed Trung's age at 38 and he is 50. I think politeness is a local characteristic. Don't worry siblings, I'm not love struck....................... Yet.
On the return ferry, I was cornered into going to the resort, by Lin and Trung. I held out for only one night though. Tonight was a brilliant night, even with the electric off for about 3 hours, so it didn't seem like too bad an idea. It was like being with a few friends for a chat and I got the 3rd degree in a nice way. The rain started as we were leaving, so Dung issued us with complimentary capes, which were just the job.
When we left the guesthouse, earlier this evening, the receptionist told me the doors close at 23:00 and she was good to her word. We arrived at 23:10 and they were shut, but we managed to rouse the lad asleep behind them. Lucky break.

Here we go again.

25/4 - On the move again. I got a good seat on the not too crowded mini-bus. Everytime we pull up anywhere food sellers appear out of the ground. Sticky rice and corn on the cob seem the favourite offerings. The drivers on these minibuses are crazy. The rule is beep your horn then go. The horn seems to make it all OK. I can't believe I haven't seen an accident. I have been tempted to hire a motorbike, but watching these buses gives me second thoughts. With the Mekong river being so big, there are very few bridges, so ferries are common and we rolled up at one. The driver issues tickets to selected passengers and they get off the bus, walk onto the ferry and get back on the bus at the other side. What's that all about Grandad? Beats me Paige. Just as we are about to board the ferry, a lady selling corn on the cob jumped onto the bus and crouched down, so she could not be seen from outside. Once we were onboard, she nipped out. A free ride I guess, she did well too, most of her bag full was gone by the time we rolled off and she had the return leg to go. "A blind eye springs to mind here and it was good to see. The road after the ferry, wasn't. It was just a succession of potholes of varying sizes. We stopped along the way to pick up a young lass, but before she could sit down the driver jammed her fingers in the sliding door. OUCH!!!!! It took ages to get the door open too. A bottle of the cure for everything appeared out of thin air. Tiger Balm. Everyone seems to carry one. It is used for travel sickness, to hide the smell of durian and apparently to fix trappedinthedoor fingers. She came and sat next to me, so I turned into our Mick, Dr Brooks and produced the paracetemol. We couldn't communicate, but she took them anyway. 5 minutes later I was hoping there are no allergies to paracetemol, but if there are "They probably only exist in the west" said the grumpy old man.
The bus made it to Vinh Long without injuring anymore of the passengers and it pulled over what seemed to be a very long way out of town and that is because it was. Even the other passengers acted surprised when I got out. There was a moto handy, with spare helmet, so it must be kosha...ish. I donned the helmet and hopped aboard, with a Gil hop. The driver knew the Guesthouse I wanted and didn't offer me any others, so that made life easier. Things are a little dearer here, $10 a night, but it has aircon, a first on my tour. I had a kip and then a wander. I bought 3 lottery tickets from an old dear, while I was sat on a bench on the river prom. I was having a bit of crack with 3 ladies at the food stalls by the kerb and a bloke came to join me, Trung, pronounced Chum. Don't ask me, I'm a Mackem. Unbelievably, he wanted to practice his English. I must have said or gestured something wrong to one of the ladies, because she started gobbing off and took the right hump. When I asked Trung what she said, he said he didn't know. Very diplomatic. There goes the Anglo-Vietnamese relations. Trung is an interesting bloke. Divorced and his wife and kids live in the States. He talked for about an hour or so and we arranged to meet for a coffee. 7 a.m. tomorrow. How did I fall for that one? I thought I had better move now I didn't have Trung to protect me from the food stall lady, so I wandered off into town. Vinh Long has a real nice feel about it, nestled on the Mekong. It feels like a working town, busy and never quiet not even during the night, but I like the place. The market here just seems to keep sprawling and spills over into the side streets and onto the kerbs. It runs right along the outside of the hotel. IT is mostly fruit, tons of durian. YAK!!!
I picked out a posh looking restaurant and sauntered in. I ordered hot pot. Nothing like Lancashire hot pot, but interesting. A group of ladies on the next table were having a right old laugh at me trying to use chopsticks. That bruised my chopstick ego, but I got the thumbs up later on to apply Tiger balm to the bruise. In between taking the mickey out of me, the ladies were giving it rice on the karaoke. They had a nerve laughing at me. Karaoke is everywhere, the Vietnamese love it. I stolled along back to the hotel and was going to have a beer in the cafe over the road, by the river, but it was heaving and the karaoke was in full swing, so I picked up a can of Tiger beer not balm, at reception and sat for a read on the balcony, then crashed out to the karaoke over the road. I must have been tired.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Off and around Chau Doc on the bike again.

24/4 - I had an early night, so was up and off out on the bike early doors. I headed for Nui Sam, Sam mountain, a few kilometres out of town. It is more like Sam Molehill, but I still didn't walk up it. It is very picturesque and am told the Cambodian border can be seen from up there, but I almost, or may have, cycled over it yesterday, so I don't need to see it now and just cycled around the bottom for a while. I cycled through several villages. They seem busy, but lazy and very friendly. A good mix. In one village there was a wedding being setup and the marquee had been setup over one lane of the road. I'm not sure I'd like to be in the marquee after sunset, it had better be well lit. I passed a school, where all the kids were lined up in the yard with a teacher giving instructions to the slow beat of a drum and they all stretched to the beat. Afterwards they all ran around wildly picking up leaves. It didn't take long for the yard to be clear, even with the of shouting and waving to the mad dog on a bike at the gate. The kids in the primary schools all wear the same uniform, white shirt, blue bottoms and a read scarf and it all looks very neat too. In secondary, the girls wear the national dress, trousers and a long fitted dress, split to the waist and the material is silky. They look exceptionally smart. THere must be some knack to keeping them clean.
I pulled over for a break in some shade and a bloke walks out of a pork butchers, this sounds like the start of a joke, it wasn't for the pig, it had very recently been slaughtered and was still bleeding all over the road. The bloke threw it in a cage on the back of his motorbike and set off passed me. I was going to tell him it didn't need the cage, but thought better of it.
I did another U turn, I am an expert at them now and set off back. I passed a lass with a barrow selling, guess what, water melons, so guess what, U turn and I bought one, about 30p, not so big as yesterdays and this lass had a knife. I was trying to explain about cutting it up, when an older lady walked over and butchered it for me. I think she told me to call in her place down the road, there was a lot of laughter and gesticulating, so I hot footed it down the road, as she still had the knife in her hand. I meandered back until I spotted a shady spot to sit and get stuck into the water melon. A few old fellas cycled past, they always have a quip and a smile as they pass. That seems to be general in Vietnam, the old fellas are characters.
I think the schools must do some shift system, as there is an older set of kids heading for the school I saw. I will have to check it out. With half the melon devoured, I set of and hit the hill back into Nui Sam. I was struggling a bit and a big lad came out of a cafe to cheer me on, then he came out and gave me a push, just like in the Tour de France, only I am faster. It was easy after his push. There are kids all over on push bikes now, so it could well be shift change. I passed one lad, he was stood still, then he caught me up and told me the bike stand had dropped down, it was when I did a leap of the kerb, about a foot high, bit of an Evil Knevil. We carried on side by side having a broken chat, then he veered off as he was home, so I battered on alone, passed a wagon train of buffalo. I kid you not. Back into town for a kip, I'm playing it the local way, up early, a kip and then back out buzzing around, but when I woke up I didn't feel like buzzing. I dragged myself out for a look around the indoor market. It is a womans place really, but outside was interesting, lots of fish, dried, smoked, pickled, the only kind not there was stuffed. There are scores of types of fruit too. Guess what??? I bought nowt. I cycled around a bit, then settled on a bench in a plaza to watch a local food stall and try to work out what to get. It is exercise time again. Here they are playing a game like hacky sack football, only using what looks like a spring loaded rufty tufty cross between a shuttlecock and an arrow. They have a laugh and get a sweat on doing it. Some are very skillful with it.
A young lad, 13, came over to sit and chat. He's a proper jack the lad. I doubt he goes to school, but his English isn't bad. I tried to enlist him to help me know what was going on at the food stall, but his English wasn't that good. THen I tried to get him and his mate to come and have some food at the stall with me, but he wasn't up for it. I think he was after fags. He disappeared a few minutes later, came back and flashed a big smile at me and a 1000 dong note, 8p. He disappeared again and came back with a lighted tab. I gave him the grumpy old man charade of "you are killing yourself". The lad sat opposite found my acting funny and copied me, having a chuckle. Jack the lad fetched me some fruit over to try. I've been going to buy some, but I am glad I never, unlike the Murphys they were very bitter. He insisted I try another and they grew on me a bit, but only a bit. Even he twisted his face when he ate them. I hadn't built up enough knowledge or courage to attack the food stall, so we parted, him to smoke himself to death and me to drink myself to the same place. I had a beer back at the hotel after a nosh and a chat with a smashing little lass, who gave me the low down on the food stalls. I would have been alright with my knowledge. The most popular drink I saw and was going to try, turns out to be soya milk and ice. THat was a lucky escape, but it is so popular, I may have to try it to see why. The little lass is really friendly. She is a shrimp and has a cheeky face. She is practicing her English and educating me to Vietnamese. She worked in Saigon for 5 years, but is very happy to be back in Chau Doc. Saigon seems to be the favoured name over Ho Chi Minh city.
Off to bed to forget all the Vietnamese she has taught me. I am hopeless.