Mekong Delta

Well, our last moments are running out fast in Vietnam….we’ve toured the whole of the country from north to south and are now ready to leave and cross the border to Cambodia….. But before we do let me tell you a little about the Mekong Delta and what we once again experienced……so the story goes….

Just what you always wanted to do...hold some bees!

Leaving Saigon was easy, we managed to do it  in a pretty well organised travel bus that had all the correct papers and insurance  etc….so getting to My Tho was straight forward. Just to let you know that there are quite a few charlatans out there who operate on a shoe string. (Most of these buses need a shoe string to lock the back doors due to there being so much [“goods”]being transported. Also having some leg room is considered a bonus.

Based on previous bus journeys there were few problems worth reporting once we arrived in the bus station we realised that in order to get into My Tho we needed some more transport as it was about 3 miles out of town… where the cheap hotels and the riverside. Within the blink of an eye we were presented with the option of boarding our very first Xe-on taxi or scooter taxi…….”What about the massive backpacks?”……just stick them on the front and off we went.

I’d manage to break Rach in a little with our Bajaj 200cc so this was  easy rider….

Surprise surprise, the scooter rider takes us to his friends hotel, whose other friend also arranges a river tour at a bonus price….he gives a discount because we have the room and the tour booked???.This is easy we think.

The tour includes a boat for 2, coconut candy factory experience, honey bee tea, free fruit and bike to ride and an English speaking guide and takes 6 hours to hope around the Mekong islands….. “meet me outside in 15 minutes”…….we assumed he was our guide, we were wrong……our guide spoke no English. All he could say was VC, VC, VC, …..and could not answer any questions. He did try to explain how the Americans entered the war by flying up the Mekong in boats and helicopters by showing us hand movements and shouting VC,VC,VC….

narrow canals on the Mekong Islands of My Tho

the bea tea was very tasty but it was soon evident the everything was a sales pitch and so it went to the coconut candy factory. We did however buy some that we believed to be coconut but on closer sampling Rach described them to taste of duriam???  I think it smells like bum. The boat ride was funny, we did manage to almost capsize when a log in the water hit the front side and toppled us. The driver, an older lady had to release the throttle by dropping the shoestring from between her toes.

The high light of the experience was when we got to one of the inhabited islands and could take a bike ride around it. It was lovely and also we got some New Year exercise that we urgently required. On the way back we got to see and catch fire flies which was a cool experience as we’d never seen them before. We did say our goodbye’s to the guide who surprisingly looked a little like Willem Defoe.

Our intention in the morning was to leave and head to Vin Long. The helpful hotelier also said he could provide a bus ….we did however say that we would like to travel by the local bus service that operates from the local bus station. “You need a Xe-on to take you there, it is far”……we then get taken to a random cafe on the high way miles from anywhere….one of the xe-on riders waits with us. It was a clever scam ….we never fell for that kind before. (Our experience of Vietnam seems to be more scam infested than in India so be warned). How else do you get commission from tourists?….take them to a place where they don’t know where they are then say the bus,( that they’d told to pick you up, which is a transit van), comes and collects you and asks for 10 times the actual rate…..I was not impressed, and when the over crowded bus stopped and demanded 200,000 dong ($10 each) I said F###off. He instantly dropped it to 100,000 which was still 5 times more expensive. Rach said keep calm and all will be thine. We did have a laugh though as we drove along the high way bundled next to half of Vietnam…..a few hours later we were quickly informed that we’d arrived and our bags were ejected. “This is not the town centre we cried”……”it is that way they said and drove off”.

At least in India you kind of have respect for the transport systems. We did find out later that the police do fine the drivers of these home run businesses for a percentage of the takings, so it wasn’t worth the risk for them to go into town. Communism is a shady business, expect the unexpected……

Sunset over the Mekong

Our spirits were lifted when we arrived in the town an met a lovely guy who offered us a home stay for cheap. He showed us pictures of his family and the place looked lovely. It was on the small island over the river, just a short ferry ride away. We were taken to the house on yet another scooter driven by the guys sister who could barely touch the floor. Hammocks were swinging on the porch and the guys mother welcomed us in with a cup of coffee. We relaxed for a while. We also had some free bike to take out and investigate the island. It was a beautiful experience. The price of $10 each included evening meal which was a whole elephant ear fish with spring rolls and soup and also breakfast. It restored our faith in the Vietnamese.

The next stop on our Mekong Delta experience was Can Tho. It was the best place to see floating markets. The bus ride was straight forward and no extortion took place. When we arrived we found a cheap hotel, was offered a floating market experience by a woman who somehow showed up just after we’d checked in. We thought at least we don’t need a guide for this, just a boat that floats. We even bumped into some people we’d met earlier in Mui Ne and had a few drinks with which was lovely.

Meeting the locals in Vinh Long

Our early morning boat ride was to be a long one, it took about 1 and half hours to get there and then an hour drifting around the market. It was really interesting seeing how natural the river seemed to the Vietnamese. On the way back it seemed to take forever. I think the boat felt like it was power by strimmer motor. Every boat overtook us. The worst thing was that we’d spent 4 hours in the tiny vessel and we only had a plastic vessel to wee into. Rach went first. I managed to get stage fright when we sailed past a bridge full of locals.

In the morning we then set off to Rach Gia to head onto the exotic island of Phu Quoc but more about that later……

Phu Quoc... paradise on earth







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