The Return Trip 2000 – 6
Next it was on to Thoi Son a resort in the middle of the Mekong river that is truly lovely. We spent the night in the six bungalows that are on the island. Sort of commandeering the joint since that's all the accomodations there are. It only seemed appropriate when we walked off the pier and into a neatly tended garden that was guarded by two large and fierce looking Manchu dragons sculpted out of hedges. I think we've found a home. Terry Thompson has suggested we buy the place and set up a time share condominium. It's that nice.
A very quiet night in what our guide Hien calls the "bangaloos" at the Thoi Son Resort and we're back at it expoloring the Delta. Today (Tuesday the 7th) we were given a guided tour through a carefully tended tropical orchard where mangoes, jack fruit, a smaller version of the leechy nut and bananas are raised to demonstrate to tourists the fertility of the Delta. That was followed by a canoe tour through a narrow mangrove canal. The shade of the overarching canopy was a welcome relief from the heat and humidity which had even started affecting the locals. Our local government guide, Kiet, said "It must we warm for you because it is hot for me."
The next stop further along the island underlined the unusually hot weather that we had during our stay. The traditional musicians and singers were sweating freely as they performed for us in the shade of a rose arbor. Here we cooled off with another generous helping of fresh tropical fruits. All five of us were surprised when we found we liked the Vietnamese way of seasoning fresh pineapple with sea salt and red pepper. An interesting taste but that wasn't the highlight of the day - that came on Coconut Monk island.
There we visited a curious Buddhist Temple created by a man known as the Coconut Monk. He got his moniker from the peculiar habit he adopted in the last three years of his life when all he ate was coconut meat and all he drank was coconut milk. Kiet, our local guide, pointed out that when he died the Coconut monk tipped the scales at a measley 81 pounds. A Vietnamese version of the Adkins diet perhaps. It's also worth pointing out that he kept 9 wives. A bit odd for a celebate monk but, who are we to judge. It seems there was more to the monk than just a curious food preference. He was also known throughout the country for his efforts to reunite North and South. In fact his temple has a concrete floor that is a relief map of all of Vietnam. There are two pillars rising from this floor one from Hanoi and the other from Saigon. They are connected by a bridge symbolizing the monk's dream to reunite the country. This philosophy also took root in his theology in that he embraced the three prinicple religions of Vietnam -- Catholicism, Cao Daism and Buddhism.
As you can see it was pure tourism today. We found it interesting and a good insight into this country that we hardly had a chance to know during the war.
Wednesday it's off to Cu Chi and Tay Ninh. Who knows if we'll find Internet access there so we may not be able to post tomorrow. Watch this space.