Have you ever been on a Merry-go-round and it just keeps going faster and faster until you are just tossed to the side, your senses frayed and your body aching? Welcome to Châu Dôc!
I will back up a day.
After returning from the sensory overload at the Killing Fields we sat, drank and talked. Talked about what we had just witnessed and what the US seems to be doing, erasing history. What does it say about a society that is embarrassed of it’s past so it just erases it, to continue doing the same things over. Take responsibility for what you have done, teach the children your mistakes so they don’t have to make the mistakes over again. We have so much to learn.
Anyway, we decided to take a FREE sunset cruise that night and just chill over dinner and drinks, with a gorgeous sunset and Cambodian music playing in the background. Beautiful night.
The next day we were taking the fast boat down the Mekong River, across the Cambodian/Vietnamese border to the town of Chãu Dõc. We sat on the back of the boat, just the two of us, as we passed more floating villages, fishermen and farmers in fields on the sides of the river. Pumps chugged and smoked, pushing brown water from the Mekong River up the banks and into the small fields they tended.
We passed banks full of children playing in the dirty water, smiling and francticaly waving until they squealed with laughter when we waved back with the same enthusiasm.
We passed what looked like water buffalo splashing in the water just meters upstream from the children. It’s amazing they don’t get sick.
Crossing into Vietnam was a simple process involving get off boat in Cambodia and getting the Visas stamped out, cruising a couple hundred meters through no man’s land, then off the boat again and Visa stamped back into Vietnam.
We docked, sort of, in Châu Dôc and the chaos started. WHAT??!! Carry our backpacks on the back of a scooter? NOPE! Not gonna happen. Ok, this little tin chariot on the back of a bicycle will have to work. The merry-go-round is starting to increase it’s speed.
Finally we make it to the hostel only having near misses by at least 8 buses, 20 vans or trucks and about 10 gazillion honking scooters all racing to the same invisible goal. The great part, they all waved and smiled at us and each other while cutting everything off. We commented that in Mexico and Central America the road signs were just recommendations. Here the road signs don’t even exist. None. Nadda. Not even a yield! That means no one EVER stops. Everything is always just a yield, even crossing the road on foot. You just enter the road, go slow but never change your predicable speed, and they maneuver around you. Magic, but not for the faint of heart.
Next was finding something for dinner. The merry-go-round is now about to fling us off. Trucks, buses, scooters on sidewalks and down the paths of the market, people all moving and outdoor food stands with little plastic chairs everywhere.
We get swept in with the movement and end up down a market isle with the smells of cut up, day old fish and blood, dried fish and fish parts and buckets of squid everywhere. Melanie is losing it, I see the panic on her face. I need to get her out of there before she vomits. Watch out! A scooter almost collects us down a 1 meter wide walkway. We finally duck into a pizza restaurant, full of confused, crazy eyed foreigners like us, the only restaurant in site with a great menu. We will have the supreme pizza. They don’t have that. Too bad the only thing they have available is tomato and cheese pizza, beer and coke.
We feast like it was filet mignon.