After our coconut candy
nibling and cobra wine binge we embarked on another long jungle trek. This
time our destination was a small waterway where we were to ride in a sampan-like
boat through the dense forest.
Again surrounded by lush tropical
vegetation in which there were sudden appearances of temples, pagodas,
burial monuments (many of them probably for Buddhist monks), stilt houses,
thatched huts, modern structures and home-stay lodgings. Since we had a
kilometre hike ahead of us we were soon offered the option of riding in
horse cars (for a price). We decided to keep walking to get the full enjoyment
of the experience.
Our paved pathway ended at the
small dock area. Three of us and our local guide piled into a small sampan
navigated by a Vietnamese woman of fairly advanced years. Our "captain"
provided us all with coulee hats which put us all in character for the
even. She stood at the back of the craft which she propelled by means of
pushing with a long pole. Many things to see along this small channel lushly
fringed and overhung by ferns and water coconut trees -- even a derelect
craft beached along the shore. The water coconut grows in the water and
the fronds are used for thatch on houses, hats, baskets, etc. The fruit,
when young, can be eaten, but it doesn't look like regular coconuts.
The experience was memorable,
but all too short and we soon reached open waters where we boarded a larger
craft to take us across to the next island for a dining experience.