Floating market

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man health, wealthy and wise.

5:30 rise and shine. Today we booked a boat tour down the river to see the floating market. As people here follow the sun's timetable that means getting up ridiculously early, grabbing a coffee with eyes still closed (not me as it might entail a bit of a problem if last night's toilet session is anything to go by) and following our guide to the river. The kids actually woke up fine, no grumpiness from them at all (the same can't be said for the adults).

The action starts about half an hour downriver. Here you find a congregation of boats, each with a series of vegetables or fruits on the top of a large pole to indicate what they sell. There are also smaller boats darting about selling drinks, breakfast and even lottery tickets. And quite a few other boats with tourists going crazy with their cameras. We were on a pretty small boat so we had it all to ourselves which was nice. The only thing was that it was becoming apparent our guide was pretty pants.

So what's the point of a floating market, apart from filling a few pages of travel magazines? Well, this way the farmers, who all live near the river, don't have to disembark their wares or pay for market space. Many restaurants buy their fruit and veg here, as it is generally the freshest around.

After darting around the market for a bit we closed the tour with a visit to a nearby noodle factory. The process is very similar to making rice paper which we saw in Cambodia. Good thing too as our guide went completely numb and didn't seem to be able to explain absolutely anything about the process.

The kids were full of energy so we went to a swimming pool at one of the posh hotels. Really wish we had gone to the public swimming pool - this might have been the lap of luxury but the ambiance was completely dead. Not a sound from any of the guests lolling round on the sunbeds in the shade either reading or sipping on their beers and munching on club sandwiches.

We had contracted another tour for the evening, a food tour round the street stalls which we reckoned would be a great introduction to Vietnamese food. Better a bit of local knowledge to serve as a base for future market meanderings. But we had a bit of a misunderstanding about the prices so we pulled the plug at the last minute. We hit the street stalls on our own, and even without explanations of what we were eating it was yummy.

Lesson learnt today: even durian ice cream gives you durian burps for the next 6 hours.

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