I just filled out an application for a World Nomads travel writing scholarship and I was rather pleased with the yarn, so I wanted to share it with you all below but this time WITH PICTURES.
P.S You too can apply here.
The journey down the murky brown water of the delta was calming. Our small boats we were passing through the channel side by side with a paddler pushing us towards our next stop. A large conical hat sat on top of my head protecting me from the heat of the sun despite the beads of sweat forming along my hairline.
The boats were paddled up to the small jetty of a bonsai tree garden where we each had a cup of tea. Upon leaving the garden a little girl ran up to me as I waited in line to get back into the boat. She outstretched her hand as high as she could, with a tiny purple flower between her thumb and finger. With a cheeky grin, she bared the gums where her two front teeth had fallen out, reminding me of when I lost my first teeth.
As we sailed down the delta I wondered what the home-stay would look like.
Would it be small?
Would there be bathrooms?
Should I have bought a shovel and toilet paper?
But most of all, I was concerned about the mosquitoes. You see, I’m allergic to mosquito bites. This one time back in 2009 on the Gold Duke of Edinburgh exhibition we were in the Kangaroo Valley and I got swarmed by mosquitoes after a day canoeing. That night I had to use cold tins of spam to keep my face cool from the bites.
Back to Vietnam, the boats banked up on the muddy shores of the delta where we heaved ourselves out of the canoes and scrambled up the slippery slopes with our belongings. Our guide, Voung, lead us down a gravel road to a large red gate.
I gasped as I walked through the large welcoming gates, to see a huge undercover area that lead up to a pale blue, two storey house, with large open air doorways.
“Welcome to the Mekong Delta homestay. This will be your home for the evening,” Voung said as a Rooster and a duck waddled beside his feet and towards the new intruders.
With warm smiles on their faces, the mother of the house and grandmother holding a little baby and a little girl emerged from an open archway.
“Xin Chao,” they gestured towards the door to the house, inviting us inside.
We were required to wear the ‘house sandals’ inside and around the home-stay. I took this opportunity to bond with the comfortable Vietnamese crocs. And I took a liking to them.
Up a very steep flight of pale blue stairs we came to a room with beds covered by mosquito nets.
Later that evening as I lay in bed looking up at the net, I heard the quiet hum of a mosquito right before it bit me on my forehead.
“I should have packed stingoes.”