Day 3 – Luxury Mekong River Cruise: The Lover

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I woke up to another beautiful day in the Mekong Delta with a perfect sunrise as I enjoyed my breakfast on board and excited to our next stop, which is Sa Dec.

The night before, all cabins received a DVD copy of the movie ‘The Lover’ for us to view in preparation for our visit to Sa Dec.  The film was based from Duras’ 1984 Prix Goncourt-winning novel, ‘The Lover’ (in French, L’Amant). The novel is about a true love covert affair of a young and beautiful French novelist, Marguerite Duras herself an Huynh Thuy Le, the son of a rich Chinese businessman, who met each other in Sa Dec in the early 1930s.  Huynh spotted the vibrant young French lass from the crowd and offered her ride to Saigon.  The rest was history.

This whole set apparently explained why the vessel, Le Marguerite, has all the French-inspired interiors to reference the French occupation in Vietnam and the elegant boat in which Duras returned to France.  It’s not surprising as well to see the house of Huyn Thuy Le, which is now known as “The Lover’s” museum with it’s elaborately patterned tiles identical to those on La Marguerite.

Sa Dec is a river-port and quaint town with amiable local residents. It is very organized in terms of navigating around through the canals.  One of the interesting features of the town is the variety of flowers grown all year round.  It also has a relatively overwhelming number of interesting temples.  One of the most remarkable one is the Fujian Temple, which houses the Chinese deities.  After the temple tours, we were given the free time and option to explore the local market located alongside the paved and busy riverbank.

We took a small boat to tour around the local market.  Along the riverbank, you will see brick and tiled kilns as well as earthenware pots manufacturers. It was amusing to observe how they were making the bricks using the traditional technology.  Most interesting observation was the involvement and role of women in these livelihood activities.  The rain poured in the middle of the tour and the crew was so prepared to distribute the ponchos to all the passengers.

After the tour, we had a tea break at the ‘The Lovers’ Museum.  We also had the chance to tour around the house and so photos of the family displayed on the walls, including that of Duras’.  We went back on board in the vessel for lunch and continued to cruise to Tan Chau, the border crossing and our final destination for the day.

Another hearty lunch was served in the Restaurant followed by a ‘tea time’ in the Saigon Lounge at 3 pm as we continued to sail to Tan Chau.

Then an announcement was made by the Cruise Manager for everyone to proceed to the Saigon Lounge about general information on Vietnam.  Each tour guide shared their own personal experiences.  The one that caught my attention was Phiems, my tour guide story.  He narrated his boat experience during the war and how he and his brother ended in the camp.  It was indeed an inspiring story on survival and how Phiem puts the picture of the past behind with no regrets.  He considers his misfortunes as a learning experience.  He obviously continues to live harmoniously, and with great pride about his country.

The night culminated with a traditional dance performance at the Saigon Lounge by the crewmembers. This followed by a grand performance by our 3 multi-talented tour guides and the Cruise Manager, Minh.

It was certainly another awe-inspiring and eye opening day for me to find out more about the series of the Vietnam wars. I look forward to sharing with you more of the sounds of my Mekong River cruise.

I am proud to feature APT (Australian Pacific Touring)in this article. APT fully sponsored my 8-day luxury cruises of the Mekong River. Visit http://www.aptouring.com.au to view list of ALL their product offerings.

© 2012 by Michelle Riel, retains sole copyright to her contributions to all the contents of this site.

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