Bára & Kuba on the road

Vietnam: busy life of the Mekong delta

Vietnam: busy life of the Mekong delta

After two weeks in northern Vietnam, we flew from Hanoi down south to Ho Chi Minh to spend the rest of our trip there. To keep the expenses low, we chose the Jetstar airlines for our flight. They are cheap but not particularly reliable and so, it didn’t surprise us when we took off with two hours delay. Classic Jetstar.

A floating market with all different kind of goods
A floating market with all different kind of goods

At the airport in Ho Chi Minh, we wanted to avoid a hassle with bargaining the price of a taxi and used the Uber instead. We didn’t have to negotiate the price but talking to the driver on phone and finding the car was not easy either.

As we knew that we would arrive late at night, we’d booked our hotel in advance. Rooms were very simple, nothing luxurious, but they were clean, had windows and most importantly – an air-conditioning.

One of smaller boats got closer to try to sell some of their fruit
One of smaller boats got closer to try to sell some of their fruit

For the next day we’d planned a trip to the Mekong Delta. A man picked us up early in the morning at our hotel and took us to a meeting point where we waited for a transport. For all our organized trips we always required to be a part of a very small group and so far it had always worked out. Until that time! A large packed bus with 30 other people arrived.

Finally, after being squeezed on the bus for a few hours, we arrived at Cai Be where the hot air slapped us immediately when we got off. We boarded a motorized boat and headed to the floating market. Each of oncoming boats was loaded with different types of fruit or vegetable and sellers kept trying to slip the samples of their goods to us from tall wooden poles. After a while, we parked next to one of the boats and had a chance to buy some of the tasty stuff.

A refreshing coconut water
A refreshing coconut water

We carried on to a rice noodles and a paper factory. But, before that we had to have a useless 30 minutes break inside a souvenir shop.

The factory itself, which was rather a small backyard workshop than anything else, was quite interesting place. Both our guide and workers made an effort to explain and to show us a whole process of making the noodles and the rice paper. Volunteers could even try to make the paper on their own. Aside the other workers prepared coconut candies. We tasted a few pieces along with some other pastries but all of them were too way too sweet.

A process of making rice noodles
A process of making rice noodles

Later, we hopped back on the boat and it took us to a different place where we had lunch. Again, all the food was delicious. The most interesting was a fish. At first, we hesitated to eat it because it looked a bit dodgy but then we plucked up the courage.

Our lunch included a local fish
Our lunch included a local fish

After lunch, we had a choice to go for a short push bike ride. The bikes were not in the best condition but good enough for a small loop in near surrounding before we headed back to the boat.

We cruised for a few minutes before we got to our next stop. There, we were given traditional cone hats and got into small rowing boats operated by paddling women. They manoeuvred us through narrow river canals surrounded by dense vegetation before we got to a small wharf. From there we walked back to our boat on dry ground with a small stop for a cultural performance which was not very good though.

A part of the tour was also a demonstration from local beekeeper
A part of the tour was also a demonstration from local beekeeper

It was the last stop for the day. After returning back to the main wharf the bus supposed to take us to our accommodation. Or at least that’s what we thought was a plan. Instead, we stopped in the middle of nowhere and our guide told us we have to swap a bus because that one was going to go back to Ho Chi Minh. We had to run across a busy four-lane highway, including climbing over concrete panels and waited in a odd place for a second bus. Luckily, it came soon and a couple of hours later we finally got to our hotel in Can Tho.

Packaging of coconut candies
Packaging of coconut candies

After dinner, which was an interesting seafood hot pot, we went for a walk on a nice waterfront along the city’s river. It was full of busy bars and restaurants.

The second part of the tour we started the next day early in the morning. The bus full of other people picked us up and we headed to the wharf where a boat had been already waiting for us.

Rice paper drying on the sun
Rice paper drying on the sun

We cruised one of the river branches for about an hour before we made a break at a fruit orchard. It was a nice walk among fruit trees concluded with a fruit tasting and opportunity to buy some exotic pieces. No doubts that the prices were much higher than usual.

When we got back to our boat we kept cruising for another hour but then it was time to slowly get back to our bus and head to Ho Chi Minh.

Ho CHi Minh -- Post Office
Ho CHi Minh – Post Office

Overall, the trip was an interesting insight into life in delta but its value was degraded especially due to a very big group of people on the tour, too much waiting and useless stops at souvenir shops or because of that weird transport organization. Those things definitely need some improvements.

Description Distance (km) Moving duration Average speed (km/h) Elevation gain (m) Elevation loss (m)
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