Having anchored in mid-stream overnight, it was time yesterday morning to go ashore in the border town of Tan Chau.There is very little to really interest the tourist here, but I think that because we had spent most of our time on the river during the day before, the company decided that we needed to have an excursion.
We were taken ashore in a little ferry boat (all dressed up in bright orange life jackets) and then clambered into some bicycle rickshaws for a ride along the street that followed the river. We could tell that we were in Vietnam , not only by number of flags that flew in many places, but also by the prolific number of photos of ‘Uncle Ho’ (Chi Minh).
These rickshaws were different from the cyclos that you can find in Saigon where the passenger sits at the front and the driver pedals from behind. They were designed to carry four Vietnamese people but I could barely fit my legs in. The best way for me, was to straddle the rickshaw and leave my feet on the outside horizontal handles that are used to help local people climb in and out,
Our first stop was at a silk weaving factory. This one was automated and it was clear that neither the owner nor any of the workers had any understanding of industrial deafness. The lighting and power supply was provided from home made wiring which made one of our passengers (an electrician) wince. I had to be careful as it was hanging at just about the height of my head.These looms can produce about 1 1/2 metres of fabric per hour which is quite fast when you compare them to the hand operated looms we saw in Cambodia which only create about 1 metre per day.
A little further up the road we stopped at a factory that made woven mats. These are use widely throughout SE Asia as a bedding marterial and for covering the bamboo floors in village houses. The owner of this business had adopted the principalof a loom to weaving mats which are made fromn very fine reeds.
Our last stop on this little excursion was to a fish farm. I thought that we would visit a pond but it turned out to be floating one in which the fish are grown in netting under the floating building. We have seen many of these house-like buildings along the river bank and I had been assuming that they were floating houses. Now I know! They can grow about 45 tonnes of fish at a time (some sort of Perch) and produce three crops every two years. The fish we saw were about 30cm s long and ate around $110 of fish food per day.
We were back on the ship for lunch and then began travelling downstream to the town of Sa Dec. The people along the river here have extensive orchards and grow many types of tropical fruit. Our entertainment tonight was to watch the film ‘The Lover’ which was the story, set in colonial times, of a young French girl who fell in love with a wealthy Chinese man. I have not heard of her, but her house is in Sa Dec which we will visit today, I think that the crew thought that the movie was too raunchy to show publicly in the lounge so they left a DVD in each of our cabins to replay on the tV in each of our rooms. I’ll be interested to hear the reaction of some of the more conservative passengers at breakfast.