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Cai Be to Sa Dec - Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Scenic Freechoice - Exploring Local Industries in Sa Dec. Visit the historic town of Sa Dec

semi-overcast 31 °C

Went to bed reasonably early last night and Phil started watching some harrowing movie called "No Escape". It was so violent and blood thirsty, which was not conducive to a peaceful night's sleep, so consequently I was still awake at midnight!

Despite that, the bed and pillows were lovely, however, I have just consulted the Pillow Menu and am going to change to either an Age-Defying Pillow or a Luxury Down Pillow, both filled with goose down, which I love.

Early start this morning and we left the ship, via sampan, to visit the floating market at Cai Be and then look a local historial house and visit a coconut candy factory.

Disaster - while I was at reception this morning, swapping my door key for a boarding pass, I DROPPED MY TABLET and cracked the screen! OMG! I have dropped it before and nothing has happened but this fall was from quite a height and it landed on a corner point and the screen cracks radiate out from there! But the good news is that it still works and I can still blog and take photos.

I was speaking with Mao about it and he said he may be able to get it fixed for me in Siem Reap, for quite a cheap price. We'll see what happens. If not, then we have about six hours at Singapore Airport on our way home, so I may be able to find something suitable in Duty Free. Upgrade perhaps?

We are anchored in the middle of the river, so sampans come alongside and take us ashore. On the way, we passed the floating market but it doesn't have as many participants any more since the bridge was built over the river and people can shop at the local fresh markets, which they like to do once or twice every day. The houses along the river bank are like hovels and are all on stilts for the wet season when the river rises.

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Due to the dams that the Chinese are building further upstream, there are not as many fish in the Mekong anymore and while it is okay at the moment, in five or six years, there will be none let, and what will the local people do then?

We visited an ancient house which was full of artefacts and large, dark and ornate furniture. Out the back we strolled through the massive garden of all sorts of fruit trees imaginable.

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The dish washer!

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Then we walked through the village for a while, saying hello to the children. All the flags are out because of New Year and the people MUST hang the national flag outside their house at New Year or else they will receive a visit from the local village councillers. (Not sure what happens then).

Next we called into a local coconut candy factory. The conditions these people work under are incredible. We did a lot of tasting. Then a huge snake appeared and Ingrid couldn't resist.

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Peter even tasted the snake wine, but women weren't allowed!

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We had a safety drill back on board.

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We hopped on our sampan again for the ride back to the ship. We had lunch with Alison and Russell Petch from Sydney and I excused myself and went downstairs for my traditional Khmer body treatment, which was a strong massage, deep into the muscles. Gosh, she found muscles I didn't know I had. I changed into Vietnamese pyjamas and she proceeded to kneed and pummel my body. At one stage, she was using her feet, because she was holding on to another part of me with her hands. No lotions or oils were used - just pushing into muscles. She knew I had a sore neck and so massaged some tiger balm into my neck. I have made appointments for two more massages - on a traditional Vietnamese body treatment and an aromatherapy experience. Should be nice.

Phil stayed on board this afternoon while the rest of us went ashore to visit the local fresh food market. Oh God, it was awful. It's about 30 degrees, though overcast (not blazing sun) and there are raw chickens, fish, ducks, prawns, eels - you name it and it was there - just sitting in the sun waiting for buyers. It was smelly and disgusting.

The fresh fruit and vegetable stalls were much better to look at and everything was very fresh.

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We then went to an ancient Vietnamese house made famous by the book by Marguerite Duras called "The Lover". To this day, I cannot understand why this book EVER became a best seller. Marguerite Duras wrote it about three years in her own life (from 15 to 18) when she lived in Vietnam and had an affair with a 35 year old Chinese man, the son of a very rich man. The affair was frowned upon by his parents because Chinese men didn't marry white French girls and her family was poor, because he father had died in France and her mother decided to stay in Vietnam to raise her three children. She was the Principal of a school.

I read the book before we came to Vietnam and found it the most boring, convoluted, hard to read and follow book ever! Why this story became such a "thing" here, I'll never know. She went back to France and had a couple of marriages and he married and after World War Two, went to France with his wife and phoned Marguerite and told her he would always love her. And that's that.

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We have been invited to an "Intimate Table around the Asian Saveurs" tonight, elaborated by the Executive Chef Oka Wibawa and his team.

Other guests at the table were Peter and Angela from the UK and Val from Melbourne and Jenny from Adelaide. It was a degustation with 10 courses and the second last one was a little surprise.

We had:
1. Tuna Sushi revised - Sushi rice cracker, soy pearls, vinegar, avocado
2. Local fruit, organic vegetables, sweet sour consomme
3. Japanese Scallop, Osetra caviar, cauliflower, white chocolate
4. Prawn Custard, Tom Yam, Asian basil, young coconut, crackers powder
5. Green Pea soup, Tobniko, dim sum
6. Lime Granite, coconut espuma, passionfruit
7. Pepes Salmon wrap in banana leaves, Tom Ka spinach, light curry, mashed potatoes
8. Beef Rossini, Loc Lac Madeira sauce, black truffle, Khmer bitter baleen, greens
9. Fake quail egg (this looked like a small raw egg in a tiny dish and we all hesitated before eating. Someone put their little finger in the white stuff and it was lemony and the yellow yoke was actually a piece of mango). Very clever.
10. Butter cake, Kemangi icecream, tamarind gel, black rice meringue

Wines served:
We started with champagne, then white wine, rose, red wine and a rice wine to finish. The rice wine was very strong and tasted like rocket fuel, which I didn't like, but the whole evening was stunning.

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Early start tomorrow. Looking forward to a good night's sleep. Have actually ordered two more pillows to try and have settled on the goose down one.

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Posted by gaddingabout 02:31 Archived in Vietnam

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