Today was Liberation Day, which is a HUGE holiday in Vietnam. As I mentioned earlier, on April 30, 1975, the North Vietnamese crashed thru the gates of the Imperial Palace, "liberating" Saigon. I guess you could say it's like our 4th of July. To commemorate, there was a parade and celebration this morning right outside our hotel. Their parades aren't like the ones we know. Although they did have floats and marching bands, they didn't have a large group of spectators. Our group leader asked someone about it and was told the parade is not necessarily for the people to attend, but for them to watch on TV! Interesting.
We didn't stay in town to watch the parade, but instead headed south to explore the Mekong Delta. More specifically, we went to visit the sites around My Tho.
We first stopped at Vinh Trang Pagoda. It was a beautiful complex with a large statue of the lady buddha and a HUGE laughing buddha.
We then headed to the river for a boat ride on the Tien River. We took the boat to Turtle Island and boarded smaller boats (6 ppl) to ride through a smaller canal to a place where they make coconut candy. We learned how they make the candy, sampled it and then bought it up. It reminded me of taffy in that it sticks to your teeth! We then tried what they call a Mekong Cocktail, which is made up of green tea, honey and juice from a kumquat. There was a little baby there in a bamboo crib that was very cute. Folks in the group went a little crazy taking pictures of him. I know I'd be a little wierded out if a bunch of strangers were taking pictures of my kids. Because of that, I usually hang back and it I want to take photos, I do it from a distance. Finally, a number of us had pictures taken w/ the resident python. My dad will freak when or if he sees it. Snakes are not his thing.
We then hopped back in the small boats and then the larger boat to Unicorn Island. Here, we were serenaded by some locals as we ate fruit and then boarded even smaller boats, similar to canoes, and rode thru an even smaller, more narrow canal. The vegetation was so lush and green. Here's a picture of Jaffa and me on the boat.
On a side note, Khai (our guide) told us today that they don't have nuclear power in Vietnam and that most of their electricity comes from hydroelectric power. However, b/c water levels are very low, they tend to have rolling blackouts throughout the country 2-3 days a week for several hours. That might explain the power outages in Hoi An that interfered with the seamstress' schedules on our last day there.
After dinner back in Saigon, we went up to the roof of our hotel to watch the fireworks display from the pool area. Unfortunately it was raining, but it was still a good view from under the overhang.
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