The Mekong Valley Tour-Little House on the Mekong

Trip Start Jul 22, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Sunday, January 30, 2011

It was time to leave Saigon.

Last night was a very late night. No details as to what I did. But it was a very enjoyable evening with a lovely Vietnamese lady.

This morning came way too fast. Up before 6am to have breakfast and then wait for the tour bus at 7h30. Tour bus came at 8, then we ended back up at the tour company offices to exchange travelers who had booked different tours.

On the road heading west out of town and we end up in a traffic jam. The 2nd of February is Tet. The Vietnamese New Year. This is a time for family and so all the city workers from the rural areas are heading back home. They all seem to be on the road today on their scooters. Having chatted with the hotel staff and other travelers, local buses and trains are booked solid for the next week. Then on the actual New Year's day everything shuts down. No one wants to work because if something bad happens on this first day of the year then the expectations are for a very bad year ahead.

It took us 6 hours to drive 120 kms. It was the worst traffic jam I have ever been in. We finally arrive at the docks where the boat is that will take us to the "small" floating market. From there we visit a coconut candy and rice paper making facility. After a brief visit there we go for a boat ride up the Mekong for a place to eat lunch. The specialty of the house, elephant fish. Lunch is being served at 3 PM, 2 hours later then planned.

We are rushing to get to Cantho, the town where we have accomodations waiting for us. One of the tour options is to go to Cantho by boat for an extra $10. When I booked my tour I was never asked about adding options, I just paid the basic 3-day tour price to get to Cambodia (ie. $39 for 3-day tour + $12 slow boat to Phnong Penh).

I pay the extra money for the boat ride to Cantho as do a few others. I've spent enough time in a bus for today. Some chose the bus. The tour guide isn't very confident about the time for the bus to get there.

The 3 hours boat ride was amazing. The engine was very noisy but the scenery was awesome along the river. Children would run along the riverbank waving and yelling hello. We arrived after dark, checked into our rooms, then went back to the riverbank for a meal. On the bus and boats I had met up with Anna from Berlin, Kaitlin, Meghan, and Sebastian from Melbourne, plus another Australian traveling alone. We had a great time at supper chatting with the restaurant owner who wanted to practice his English.

We are finishing up supper when a couple from the bus who had not opted for the boat ride, arrive. The bus took two hours longer to travel the distance to Cantho.

During supper the Australian traveling by himself made a comment about a group of fellow Australians on the bus who were extremely annoying. I didn't want to mention anything but since he did we had a discussion about it and everybody agreed. We were all glad that the group of 9 had not taken the boat. Throughout the 6 hour bus ride they complained about everything, were extremely loud and obnoxious and were generally behaving rudely. It was a sign of things to come.

Enjoy the photos. It was difficult choosing which to post. I took so many interesting ones today.
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