As we prepared for breakfast this morning we listened to loudspeaker announcements in the nearby village. The government has placed speakers along the roads every 200 meters and they play by radio the same “news” throughout the country for 2 hours in the morning and two hours in the evening. There is no option to change the channel or turn down the volume.
This morning we continued our cruise down the Mekong. So far in about 200 miles on the Tone Sap and Mekong rivers we have seen only one bridge, at Phnom Penh. However, there are hundreds of ferry crossings, sometimes within only 100 yards of each other. The ferry are packed with scooters and motorbikes which seem to outnumber cars by at least 50 to 1. We noticed that almost all boats, no matter the size, have “eyes” painted on the bow. That’s so the boat can see where it’s going and safely find its way home.
After arriving at Sa Dec we visited the local market, a Chinese pagoda and a flower nursery. Sa Dec is known for flower growing and sends flowers by river to Saigon, especially for the Tet celebration which this year begins on February 8.
Thus far Vietnam seems much cleaner and more orderly than Cambodia. Although under strict communist rule where speaking against the government can result in a 15 year jail term, they have implemented what they call a market based economy. The government no longer determines what should be made and sold at what price. Factories and businesses are privately owned and financed. As a result there is a growing class of very wealthy Vietnamese while the individual farmer and worker struggles to make ends meet.
Tonight we overnight at Vinh Long.