Archive for the ‘Mekong Delta’ Category

  • The Mekong Delta towns of My Tho and Ben Tre


    We reached My Tho by local bus after a 4 hours ride on a bumpy road. The stop was a few kilometres away from the city centre, in the middle of nowhere. Once again we were lucky and a minibus took us four –we were still travelling with Empar and Juan- for free from the side of the road to the river shore, where the most of the action happens in town. We didn’t like it much and expected to find a much authentic place in Ben Tre town, just a 15 minutes ferry and an overland ride of 12 kilometres on the other side of the river.


    We found a good place to eat first –we can not believe that we are not getting fat with such amounts of food we are having in Vietnam- took the ferry and crossed to the Ben Tre province, a more remote area that can only be reached by boat. Thanks to our big smiles and to some nice words to local people we got another free ride from the pier into Ben Tre town -12 km under a very heavy rain that was about to flood the sides of the road. We got wet that afternoon looking for a place to stay but a “Com chai” restaurant helped us to recover our strenght and to prepare for a boat ride through small river canals on the next morning.


    This time our boat was too big and the canals too small, so we had to push the prow away from the shore vegetation again and again. This made us be slower and made the whole journey shorter but the beautiness of the surroundings (water coconut trees covering all along the edge of the small water canals) and the amount of inhabitants we met on the way made it an interesting excursion to see the life in the canals.


  • Can Tho and the floating markets


    What do 4 tourists do in a local bus travelling through the Mekong Delta? Well, among others, have fun!! It was a long walk from our hotel to the local bus station in Chau Doc but it was really worth the effort. Once we arrived there we found out –read corroborate- that hotels and travel agencies sell out tickets of the same buses at higher prices than in the station and then impute it to the rise of the prices of petrol, not to their comission. So we bought our tickets, got in the bus and were surprised of seeing some local people on very wide costumes filled up by what it seemed to be their flesh –something weird if you think that the average Vietnamese is quite skinny. After some minutes the bus had moved and had crossed the first police checkpoint on the road, we could finally know about this mystery. What they all had under their clothes –and in every corner and seat of the bus- was packets and packets of cigarrettes that they were smuggling into the province of Can Tho, our next destination. Between stop and stop they kept on screwing out pieces of the bus to take the hidden cigarrettes and put them on big boxes, then stoping in the middle of nowhere to pass them on to a motorbike rider, who should take them somewhere different, and so on. This trip was pretty fun and once we arrived in Can Tho we had enough to laugh about.


    We found a cheap ‘homestay’ kind hotel and arranged with them a boat trip to the floating markets for the next day. For a few dollars per head we spent 8 hours navigating rivers and small canals, visiting noodle factories, fruit orchards and floating markets in the Mekong delta. It was a nice day out with our lovely guide “Hart” who took care of everything and fed us constantly with local delicacies. A journey that we will not ever forget, in which we could develop our skills in Vietnamese language –so, we learnt to say hello, bye, thanks, papaya and many other useful things…

    floating-market.JPG       floating-market-2.JPG

    Again, another highlight of our stay there was the food and to find another “Com chai” restaurant with many more tasty dishes which we could not believe it was not meat or fish. Ummmmm!!


  • Vietnam, such a nice surprise


    Fearing things before they happen is not our way to proceed but, somehow, we had been warned so many times –by other fellow travellers and by different guide books- about the rude manners, the scams and the dangers of travelling in Vietnam, that we unconsciously were more mindful than we normally are. Such a false prejudice, we arrived in Chau Doc and were completely amazed with the people, the food, the city and everything around.


    As we were walking around town with our backpacks looking for a convenient place to stay –prices for accommodation seemed to be way higher than we were used to pay- we met again Juan and Empar, two other valencian guys we had met in Bangkok around 3 weeks ago. From that moment onwards, we would travel together around South Vietnam and have loads of fun.


    One of the highlights of our stay in Chau Doc was the food. Cheap fruit and sweets stalls were to find all around, and we discovered a place that offered high class vegetarian food at local prices and with a huge variety. It was a “Com Chai”, somehow a kind of pure vegetarian restaurant family run that can be found everywhere in Vietnam, although it is not a chain nor same in every place.

  • Entering Vietnam


    There were different options to reach Vietnam from Pnomh Penh, but from all of them we choosed to take a boat and travel down the brown and quiet waters of the Mekhong River until the Vietnamese frontier village of Chau Doc. It was a pleasant journey on a 2 storey slow boat from where we could take pictures of villages and locals in their daily activities.


    Once in the border we had to get out of the boat and walk to the officer’s post to do all the paper stuff. It was not stated anywhere that people crossing the border into Vietnam need to go through a medical/health check, which you could skip by paying a 2000 Riel fee, that would mean you are completely sane and that you are not a potential danger for vietnamese people’s health. Can you believe that? We didn’t! But it was paying it or not getting into the country. Same shit in all the borders…


    We went onboard another boat and continued navigating down the river along smaller canals before arriving in Chau Doc, one of the biggest cities in the Mekong Delta area and our first contact with Vietnamese culture. A really good place to start our trip in this new country on the list…