24/25th.February, Mekong Delta 2 – Cai Rang, Chau Doc and border crossing
Today we started early in the morning again, in order to visit at Cai Rang one of the largest floating markets in the delta. It was not like most pictures one sees with one person in each sampan selling things. The boats were large with tons of produce on each boat but most only of one type. The customers went round in smaller boats buying, but only in wholesale quantities.
Afterwards there was another drive to Chau Doc where we were once again amongst masses of people visiting 2 temples. Apparently it was particularly crowded being the weekend. According to our programme one of the temples was set in rice fields and a short walk was mentioned. This though was not the case and to my disappointment no walk in the countryside was forthcoming. The religion is a wierd mixture of Hinduism, Buddhism and Chinese Confusionism. There is a huge array of gods, saints and creatures on display. The offerings of food at the Lady Chua Xu Pagode even included whole suckling pigs but they were taken away again afterwards, presumably to be eaten. One religious ritual there consisted of burning paper.
After lunch at a smart hotel for lack of space anywhere else we took yet another boat ride. This time to see a so-called fish farm which consisted of a cage full of pangusius underneath a floating house. Then on to a village of the Cham people who were now Muslims apparently coming from Indonesia.
We left the hotel at 6.45 the next morning, thinking our speedboat boat upriver to Phnom Penh would leave around 7am. Since it said in the programme that the journey takes 4 hours, I expected to arrive soon after 11am. In the event at that time we were still going through Cambodian passport control not far from where we started. The boat actually left at 7.45 and soon stopped for refreshments. Then a Vietnamese police/customs boat stopped our boat and made it go back for some other check. A bit later at the border everybody (about 50 people) had to disembark and go through visa and passport control. It did not seem to make any difference if one already had a visa or not. In any case we were all on the same boat and could only leave together. We finally arrived at 14.20, when we were met by our guide and would see the sights of Phnom Penh the next day.