Temples and lotus flowers

Rowing to the floating market.
Rowing to the floating market.

For our last day’s riding we awoke in our homestay hut. We were all a bit smelly after perfunctory cold showers amongst the adults and nothing for the kids.┬áIt was a lovely place to wake up to a chorus of rooster crows and the sounds of the nearby river coming to life; and what life.

We took a small boat the floating markets. The local farmers come out in tiny boats to meet river traders. The traders buy in one spot, then move and sell in another that grows something different. When they are selling, they raise a long pole and hang samples from it as advertising. The river traders live on their boats which makes it even more picturesque.

We then started riding atop tiny dykes through rich farm lands growing bananas, jackfruit, mangos and other fruit. After about 15km we came to a Khmer Buddhist temple. The Khmer used to control the whole area but now they are a minority and tend to live together. The temple was the centre of a small complex with a school, farm and houses. All boys have to spend some time in the temple as a novice, before deciding if they want to become a monk. We learnt some things about Buddha, but mostly just drank in the quiet atmosphere.

Novice monk at work.
Novice monk at work.

A little bit further on we came to a huge field of lotus flowers, which feature significantly in Buddhism. The field stretched to vanishing distance in a riot of green and pink.

We rode on further through the heat. One of the distinctive things about riding in Vietnam has been the range of smells – there’s always an underlying smell of burning wood, often a suspicion of things rotting, occasionally wafts of lemon, orange or banana. Today was particularly pungent thanks to all of the fruit trees growing on the side of thew paths.

We were all getting a bit tired and had a couple of minor accidents. Declan came off on an awkward corner and narrowly missed falling into a hedge of cactus. Ray fell off when a motorbike failed to negotiate a bridge and brought several of us to an awkward halt. Overall we’ve been lucky, there have been only minor accidents with just some bruises and scrapes to show for our adventures.

After another 60km ride our riding adventures were over and we hopped on a coach to transfer to the South West where we are to catch a boat out to an Island which promises beaches.

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