- the first night, we tried to get under a bridge but the river was too high. we got under it, and the crew and we were all in the back, pushing up on the bridge to try to get the boat to go down just enough for us to get under it. we didn't make it. after an hour waiting, we finally did, but it was close.
- we had dinner in the home of a 72-year old man whose first question (have you been to vietnam before?) turned out to be a way to find out if marc had fought in the war. Our dear guide had been a S Vietnamese soldier ("on your side!" he said) for 7 years. I nearly cried at the table.
- we stopped at many small towns to see markets, we floated through the floating market -- lots of stories to tell there -- and we saw a candy-making factory, a brick-making factory (and don't think "factory," think "people squatting making these things by hand), and a shop where they build river boats. that was my favorite, and i just wanted marnie to be there with me, so she could climb around inside and ask questions.
- the crew of our little boat stole my heart, every one of them. the three young guys spoke no English, but their smiles got into my heart and their friendly spirits really moved me. our guide was a wonderfully sweet man. i've missed them ever since we left.
- our last night on the boat, we got off and climbed into a tiny rowboat. the crew rowed us into a very tiny little canal off the river so we could see how people live. i had an extraordinary moment when the sweet guy rowing in the back started singing along with the music coming from one of the homes; he was wearing black satin pants with Diesel logos and singing fantastique (the only word i recognized) and there i was, floating in a tiny backwater canal in the Mekong. it's making me cry to write this.
- during the last night i got one of those horrible, horrible sick headaches. i couldn't eat breakfast, and fought not to throw up over the side of the boat. our guide accompanied us in the car we took to Cai Be, and he had the driver stop at some little market to get me some 'medicine.' it was menthol, camphor, and peppermint oil and i was instructed to wipe it under my nose, and rub it into my temples and on my stomach. MY HEADACHE STOPPED IMMEDIATELY. i'm not kidding. i was basically using it because (1) i was so desperate i'd have eaten live cobra if someone suggested it, and (2) he'd been so sweet and kind, wanting to help. i didn't think it would really do anything. ha. joke's on me! i have my tiny little bottle of it and i cherish it and want to find more. man alive, that stuff was great. ancient chinese medicine, yeah.
I didn't think it was possible, but I love Vietnam even more now than I did before. I just love the place, the people, the land. It was very very hard to leave this morning because I'm afraid I won't ever get to go back. I want to go back.