We had a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and baguette (sorry Kat, no HP brown sauce) at a cafe down the street. Unfortunately, behind us on the wall was a price list for buses to various places in the country, and they were all considerably cheaper than what we had paid. Something that we would try and rectify later.
Easy haggling for a tuk tuk meant we chugged and bumped out along the road to the dolphin cruise terminal on the river. I say terminal, but we might as well admit it was a hastily constructed concrete cubical to collect money, a muddy field to walk across and slippery steps down to the river. The boat was bigger than we had anticipated and it slowly made head way against the downstream current. It was one of the weirdest optical illusions we’ve ever had. We could feel ourselves moving in the direction we wanted, the swirls and eddies in the river suggested dangerous fast moving water around us and neither bank of the river or the sandy islands got closer or further away. But, we slowly started making our way through trees and islands to then slowly drift into place next to other boats. Tying up to a bush, almost completely submerged in the rainy season, there were dolphins swimming around the area. It took us a while to see where they all were, with their blow being a short affair and they submerge again soon afterward. There must have been about a dozen when we arrived. A few big males were obvious to the left of the boat and a small pod directly off the stern suggested about 5/6 with one pair definitely being a mum and calf. We tried desperately to take a classy shot of the dolphins, a clear photo of a fin or a nicely framed picture with some of the landscape in the background. It was very much a futile effort so we gave up which meant we were able to enjoy them and not live the moment through a lens. Back to our jetty, collecting our tuk tuk driver (who was enjoying some fishing), we discussed what to say to the gentleman about our bus tickets on the way back into town. We appreciate the idea was a bit ludicrous – trying to ask for money back or a refund, when we have already purchased something. But, we made a silly, impulsive purchase the night before and were now hoping to relieve some of the stress of the situation. Needless to say, Mr. Map finally turned up and wasn’t best pleased. Staying calm and factual was pointless with the man. He was loud, angry and generally trying to blag his way out of the whole thing by saying so much that no one else could speak. I should have just reached over and banged his head against the table like an interrogator in a cop film. Sleezy grease ball of a man has made a fool of us and karma will get him for being such a con artist.
Fuming and giving out to ourselves on the walk into town, we tried to console each other that in a year of travelling we can count on one hand the amount of times we have been properly scammed and that this was the worst, but not much in the grand schemes of things. We were being all mafia-like with our threats, completely in a world of our own, when Tom & Linda (the American couple from last night) shouted out to us from across the road. Quick change of plans, we had an impromptu lunch instead of trying to organise dinner as discussed the night before. 2hrs of chatting melted away the afternoon, with the occasional blast of heat from the street when the electricity power cut out and the fan above us whirred to a stand still. Those brief moments were also the noisiest and smelliest with the diesel generator making an effort to light up the inside of the restaurant.
Despite my protests, we were back on another boat, this one not leaking, and heading across the river to Koh Trong. An island in the middle of the Mekong River we have heard that is has a nice cycling route around the island – hence my reluctance to visit. We opted for the cheaper $1 bikes, going against earlier advice, to see if we could make it around and save a measly $2. Oh the joys! The wheels were a bit wobbly from being a bit bent and while I had only one flat tyre, Katherine had two. But, perhaps this is to give more grip and surface area on the mud. And there was lots of mud. Shouting to the kids to move, high-fiving the ones that were paying attention and ignoring the barking dogs, we did the circuit. The Vietnamese temple was being renovated and the floating village very quaint. The moment Kat toppled a bit in the trail and had mud up to her ankle was perhaps the best bit of the adventure. I was expecting it to be me, but I escaped with only a numb bum and stiff back. Well, I escaped the treachery of cycling. I slipped when getting on the ferry. Me, slipping on a boat… unheard of! A sore knee and a few small cuts were all there was to show of the drama. We thought we’d try the other recommended restaurant in town for dinner. But, nothing on the menu was appealing, so we tried a smoothie. Lumpy, sugary and probably adding to my cholesterol levels we were glad that we didn’t opt for food as well. Back to our restaurant I ordered the same stir-fried veg with sesame and honey and it was divine. It went well with a bit of fried ginger from another plate. 🙂 We watched an episode of GoT and tired to get some sleep on the sponge thin mattress in the stuffy hot room.
Friday 7th October 2016