To get a break from walking, we hired a boat this morning for a trip down the river towards the sea. For an hour we just pottered along the river, watching life carry on on the banks. One of the strangest sights, that we hadn’t expected at all, was the coracles that the local fishermen use to get to and from their boats. I remember learning about them in history in school, from Ireland, so it’s a bit of a surprise to see them here in Vietnam, made of bamboo and being paddled by men in pointy hats.
We also passed crowds of women, packed onto similar boats to ours, heading back from the market. The boats were crowded with empty baskets, and cages which had held chickens and ducks, and they were busy counting their takings.
As we passed the small dock at the market, it was a bustle of activity and goods of all kinds were being passed around between boats. We were only on the boat for an hour, which cost us 60,000 dong ($4), but it was long enough to get the flavour for life on the river without reaching boredom-point for the girls.
As we’ve been in Asia for over 3 months now, we’ve started to not notice how different things are here, and what might have seemed unusual at the beginning, we just see as normal daily life. Take this photo as an example. On all the restaurant menus in Hoi An, they print “Our Ice is made from Purified Water”. And I’m sure they’re absolutely correct. But what they don’t tell you is what happens to the ice after it has been made from the purified water.
This cart/bike is taking a dozen blocks of ice into town, where it is chopped up for sale to the fish sellers, restaurants, drink vendors and for sliding onto boats for the outlying villages. The cafe owners then carry it to their shops, either over their shoulders, or on the back of their motorbikes, where they chop it up even smaller, and drop it into your drink. So although the ice was made with purified water, who knows what’s in it buy the time you drink it! But we haven’t avoided ice here, because lets face it, if the locals drink it, why shouldn’t we? Mind you, its always a strange sight to see a caf owner pop off on his moped when they’ve run out of ice, and then come back with a block on the back of it – at least you now know why you’re iced-Milo was taking so long!