Snake wine, a cure for all ills

An early start on our trip down to the Mekong delta. There are 3 of us as we are joined by a well travelled Frenchman, Dino. The road for an hour or so is pretty good, almost freeway style, with two impressive bridges built by the Australians and Japanese. After that the good roads end, and its single carrageway and cars, lorries, buses and the usual thousands of scooters compete on a very bumpy road.

Then the 3 of us are transfered onto a boat large enough for the Queens upcoming Thames trip. First stop is a very touristy coconut sweet making place which looked good but tasted awful. Then onto a fruit farm which was considerably more interesting, especially the local shop which had some lovely fresh meat sitting in the sun. Back to the ocean liner we traveled for a few hours up the delta, with a cracking lunch and a great siesta.

The delta is huge, it starts in tibet and works its way via laos, china, cambodia and eventually vietnam, and is the lifeblood of all in its way,unless China builds too many dams. Considering how many people rely on it for food, sand and business the concept of looking after it has not become widespread. The number of boats dropping rubbish into it, along with all ‘houses’ emptying into it is pretty awful. There is a lot of rubbish, banks piled high with it. It does not look clean,but of course fish from it is the stable diet.

We then transferred to a small boat to go to our homestay, a sort of b&b. Basic but very welcoming. A large collection of various animals to keep us company, and of course an impressive array of mosquitos. A short cookery lession took place followed by a pretty good meal. Our early wakeup call from the roosters and something sounding like a cross between pig and a duck got us underway at 6am.

Next stop the floating markets, although it was difficult to tell if the market was for the locals or the large number of tourist boats. After clambering aboard one pineapple selling boat we moved on to a localhouse who was a friend of the guide.

Our guide for the 2 days was an interesting guy. He fought with the americans in the war as a southerner, then was put in camp for 2 years by the new communist government for re-education. Fair to say he was not the most pro-communist person,but the stories of corruption rang very similar to our China experience. An ideal political utopia neither country appears to be. His friend however was a 76 yo loon who specialised in snake wine. As it sounds, it is rice wine fermented with actual snakes. Famous for being the medicinal version of Viagra, there is a famous one called 5 Times. We had tried a couple of shots the previous night, but at 9am we were drinking a special brew of mushrooms, herbs, snakes and the rice wine. Its fair to say all 3 of us were pretty trippy at 9am. KT had a problem getting up. The guy looked like he had drank a lot of it.

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