Mekong Delta Postcard

My objectives for the day were fairly straight-forward: finish my US$2 bag of marijuana and make my way back to Phnom Penh from Sihanoukville.

After completing the first task, with time approaching midday, I made my way to the bus terminal and managed to buy the last available seat for the bus destined north. I then sat myself down in the cramped confinement of the bus, stoned.

Falling asleep half way through the journey, as the bus approached Phnom Penh I awoke in pain. While sleeping I must have contorted my position and twisted my knee.

Now, after arriving at our destination, I limped off the bus and climbed on to the back of a motorbike taxi.

Already the motorbike taxi rider had sensed my weakness.

I had asked to be dropped off close to the river bank.

"At the guesthouse above the bar that doubles as a whorehouse."

Instead he dropped me off at a commission paying hotel, rather nice in appearance but lacking character, such as mirrors on the ceilings.

But I was at his and all the other Cambodians mercy.

Sorry – let me rephrase that.

I had positioned myself to be even more at his and all the other Cambodians mercy.

I hid myself in my pleasant air-conditioned hotel room.

Tomorrow I would put my plans into action and escape.


Mekong Delta
Out of the shadows they came

It was dark by the time the bus passed into Vietnam and, once past the border, we were hit by a traffic chaos all the way to Ho Chi Minh City. Bright lights of the motorbikes below lit the night sky above as the bus came to a crawl; inch upon inch, metre upon metre, we were within a bright-light casino, chance tearing us apart from our destination.

Finally we arrived and later, while lying upon my bed, I looked up at the ceiling. This time there was no mirror to look down upon oneself. For this time I was damaged, my knee inflamed, puffy and sore.

I needed solace, to find my old friend the Mekong River. Getting out of my hotel room, I limped towards a tourist agency and booked a three-day Delta tour; marketed not as a tour of adventure or excitement, but as a tour of happiness, of smiles and of laughter.

Next day, as the tour group minivan crossed a bridge into Can Tho, the city hub of the Mekong Delta, I was in agony. Fortunately the tour group had spent most of the day confined within the minivan, succumbing to the urban sprawl. I had been given eight painkillers by a French couple, more by an Italian, told a tale by a Hungarian male of how he had twisted his knee climbing up a pole while drunk (very painful; water puffs up the knee to protect the bone) and a Spanish guy had talked to me about reflexology.

It all sounded interesting.

Mekong Delta

So I took all their advice and found myself on the table of a blind massage therapist, who somehow started to massage the wrong knee.

But relax – apparently that is how it works. The nerves in one part of the body healing the nerves in another part.

Take some more pills to ease the pain - pain at the base of one’s foot, the splitting headache and the sore shoulder...

And by noon the next day I was at the Can Tho hospital. Taken there by a Vietnamese tourist student who wanted to improve her English. X-rays, bills and more pills; by noon of the third day of the Mekong Delta tour I was fine.

Except the tour group had left and I was still in Can Tho.

I now had to negotiate my way back to Ho Chi Minh City; with the best option been lies, deceit and deception.

The hidden truth.