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There were no real surprises in Vietnam - except for the friendliness of the people - both in the north and south. Aside from being spit at by an old woman in a street market, and a few sideways glances while touring the "War Museum" in Hanoi, you would not have suspected that a war had been waged just a generation ago. I take that back, there is one experience that I will remember. The plan had been to drive down from Cantho to a small village in the Mekong Delta (Soc Trang) where a semi annual moon and wind festival was scheduled to take place. Several days before, we find that the festival has been canceled. Not to be stopped, Bill makes a few phone calls to old friends, and arranges for the Long Boat races to be held in any event. I didn't expect much - I figured the locals would haul out two or three boats and take a turn on the river. What occurred could not have been further from my expectations. As we approached the village down a one lane mud road, we ran into large groups of people walking south. When we got to Soc Trang, we found literally thousands of villagers had turned out for the races. As if that were not enough, our small group was led to a pier jutting into the Mekong where we were seated under a raised canopy to view the race. A local man with a camcorder was there to record our presence at the event. Locals lined both banks of the river, climbing up trees for a better view. Kids dove and played in the river. The race lasted for the better part of an hour with six or eight teams competing for the victory. I felt like we had somehow been confused with important ambassadors of some bygone era. Who knows, maybe that is what Bill told them. In any event, they all seemed to enjoy the show and for me, that is the closest to grand marshal of a parade that I will ever get.

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The Golden Triangle
HoMe PaGe

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