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Full Circle

Day 87: Saigon to My Tho

Michael Palin - Full CircleAt the town of My Tho we take an early lunch while we wait for the Mekong ferry. The tourist board restaurant has a menu which promises such delights as Eel, Frog, Snake (pounded), Tortoise, Swid and Teared Chicken Into Small Pieces.

Cross-river ferries are a great focus of life. It's as though you are standing on a street corner that suddenly sails away. I find myself crossing the Mekong with four trucks, a Mercedes hearse with a handsome yellow casket inside it, motor bikers wearing reversed 'Lakers' and 'Raiders' baseball caps, a bus with a Buddist shrine on the dashboard and a boy in a Guinness T-shirt asleep on the luggage rack, a group of chattering women wearing black pantaloons and straw hats, and an old lady carrying a bag of green apples from one side of her shoulder pole and a live cockerel on the other.

The river is broad, brown and sluggish like the Yangtze. It rises two and a half thousand miles away in Tibet. At the height of its annual flood it shifts thirty-eight thousandcubic metres of soil every second. Thanks to the Mekong, Vietnam is expanding at the rate of two hundred feet a year thanks to grains of Tibet, chunks of China and Burma, swathes of Laos and great lumps of Cambodia.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 87
  • Country/sea: Vietnam
  • Place: My Tho
  • Book page no: 127

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