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Vietnam, then Cambodia

Vietnam.
Another short holiday exploring more of SE Asia. Back to Vietnam again, with a couple of days in Ho Chi Minh City at the beginning, then a few days in the Mekong Delta region. After that it was a boring taxi boat (about 10 passengers) up the Mekong to Phnom Penh in Cambodia, and then several days there.

Here’s one way to get around – bloody tourists!
Vietnam was, once again, an exciting place to visit. HCMC (Saigon) has developed tremendously in the 3 years since we were last there. Most noticeably in the traffic, which now contains many more cars than it did, even if it is still predominantly motor cycles (up to 5 passengers per bike!). At this rate the city should be gridlock in the next 3-5 years I expect.

Didn’t do too much in HCMC as we had been there before – mostly just soaked up the vibrant atmosphere, and eat the lovely Vietnamese food of course (what a way to serve a fish).
The Mekong delta was very interesting. We had a guide to take us through – by van and by boat – what is another of the “rice bowls” of the world. Lots to see and once again evidence of a rapidly developing nations that seems to be moving too fast for itself even to keep up. Lovely people, and a very diverse economy. Here’s some of the story in pictures.
Lazing along the river – note the driver is using his foot.

Floating markets are still a feature. This is a wholesale market, starting at dawn. Small boats then take this produce into the tiny side rivers . The pole sticking up from the boat has things hanging on it – that’s what that boat has for sale.
– and this is the delivery process, plus us enjoying some of the produce.

Making stuff in the delta – first “pop-rice” (like crispies)

Here’s a brick factory in work with many kilns like this in operation. Bricks are stacked by hand in there – 1,000’s of them. Rice husks are used to fire the kiln – waste not, want not eh?

Interestingly there was some striking evidence of the current world crisis when we visited a rice processing factory. This place was a small operation where the owner puts rice through the machines for the local farmers to de-husk, polish, grade, bag, etc the rice. He takes a portion of the rice for his work, and sometimes buys rice crops to sell on, largely for export. Normally this factory, according to our guide, is very busy, and there is lots to see. When we arrived there was only the owner and his wife there and the factory was chock-full of bagged rice that he could not sell – due to the economic downturn! Who would have imagined that from about 6 months back when there was a world shortage of rice? He was quite philosophical about it, as he at least had rice to feed himself. The problem will come if it is still there a year from now as rice in sacks tends to rot after about a year. The other issue is the knock-on effect, of course, as farmers have no-where to take their rice for processing, even if they had anything to do with it once it was processed. So their income dries up, and someone else is living on just their own rice, plus a few handfuls they can sell on to other locals. What a mess. Even our guide was shocked.
Here’s the factory.

The exit from Vietnam to Cambodia was a small border crossing, for just boat passengers. It took 10 of us the best part of an hour to get Visa’s and to get processed through. One can’t hurry things in SE Asia.
Here’s a look at the border with Cambodia – that’s where it is all flooded – Cambodia being too poor to manage the flood plain . . . .

. . . . . . and a look at the border control hut . . .

Then a 3 hour boat ride to Phnom Penh – continued separately.

By Tina

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