Down the Delta

Trip Start Nov 02, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What a place! From Saigon I took an organised trip down the Mekong Delta before cycling down, the trip only cost $6 and was well worth the money.  I was collected from my hostel to catch the bus to My Tho where we were put on our first boat of the day.  This was a fairly large boat which took us across the river to one of the many islands, I love boats however this one felt quite unstable with them balancing the people either side, but when someone moved the whole boat moved to that side!

Once across we walked down through a village where they showed us bee hives and coconut candy making and we had an opportunity to buy products.  We were given a demonstration on how to open coconuts (although I am well accustomed to this after Sri Lanka) and were given local tea to try, along with a few other locally produced items.  While we were having our tea our guide came out behind me with a huge snake on his shoulders, I must have jumped a mile he gave me such a fright!  A few people got to hold it and although I was waiting, one of the girls nearly strangled the thing being so scared and it had to be put away!

We were taken round to small 4 person boats next for a canal trip, given our leaf hats to wear as we floated along the canal lined with water coconuts and many shacks and sheds for housing.  I enjoyed the journey along although the water looked brown and dirty, I would hate to fall in!  We went quite away on these wee boats which was great fun before eventually getting out to the river and put back on bigger boats again and taken to another island.  We had our lunch stop of local food with the option to have fish which a few people did, however I stuck to the local chicken/rice option which was included.

After lunch we could take a bike to a nearby town if we wanted (and of course I did), I found the bike surprisingly comfortable and really enjoyed a bit of exploring but we had to be back in 40 mins for our next boat trip.  I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and couldn't have paid for all these boats on my own as I would have needed to hire them out which is why I decided on a tour before I cycle down… was definitely the far cheaper option.  So after another boat back across the Mekong we were put back on a bus to Saigon, it was nice sitting watching the traffic instead of being caught up in it, but the roads here are really chaos as I was to find out.

When I left Saigon I first stopped past My Tho in a village called Khiem Ich (95km), the road out of Saigon was the craziest yet honestly, I think the 10 million motorbikes that are in Saigon all left with me to go home for Tet, I mean chaos.  I was expecting the traffic to calm down once I was out of the city but it didn’t calm down at all over the next few days out to Rach Gia.  I stopped a few times along the road where I could sit and chill in a hammock while I caught my breath and bought some water.   I put in some good kilometers but really I was just swept along with the traffic, there are many bridges going across rivers and canals from the Mekong and at every single one of these bridges, the road narrows and bottlenecks, I mean at every single one.  The volume of traffic around me means there’s bike room only, and I’m bumped along on more than one occasion, thankfully no damage done.

My hotel in Khiem Ich was very clean, cheap and in nice surrounds, lush green paddies behind it means I headed out to explore once I’m changed, I just can’t help myself.  I sussed out a tack that took me down to a small village and into their temple, I got the usual waves and shouts when I walked down and stopped to talk a few time (well sign language) before watching the sunset over the crops with their gravestone in the middle of their fields.

Next day I headed to Can Tho (80km) which was more of the same but at one point the traffic briefly let up and I could enjoy the scenery but not for long.  The side of the road so far has been filled with shops, houses, buildings and sometimes you get to see the canals and rivers being with their boats and trading going on, many of the houses are all on stilts above the water.   I’m swept along once again before crossing a high bridge into Can Tho which was similar to the one going into Saigon.  It’s funny because everyone stops at the top for a bit of sightseeing, vendors are selling water and fruit but then police are moving you along also to stop a buildup of traffic.

It’s a nice place and I find a hotel near the river, market area and straight after my shower I’m off exploring.  Tet is getting closer and closer and there is a real New Year feel about, everyone is getting prepared, cooking, cleaning etc.  I’m staying right in the fruit/veg/seafood market and I love people watching and joining the locals for local food, I’m still living off my Pho Bo, I love it and it’s a very healthy option.  Nearby there is another market selling flowers and plants many displays are all yellow and red which is good luck, and another night market is getting set up which will open much later so I doubt I will see it.  It’s a nice place, I really enjoy it plus down by the river I can watch not only the passenger/motorbike ferry crossing but there are floating villages too which use their small wooden boats to transport goods over to the markets, really interesting to watch.

Next stop is Rach Gia for the ferry over to Phu Quoc, my timing is perfect, if I was any later the boat would be off for a couple of days for Tet, The Year of the Snake fast approaching but I’m lucky and manage onboard.  My bike is lifted onboard while I’m put inside, this is a proper superfast ferry which should only take a couple of hours, I’m meeting Angela over on the Island at Duong Dong which is only a further 15km I think, then I’m going to have some beach time which I’m looking forward to.  I manage to navigate my way over and thankfully met up easily and I’m sharing this beautiful big bungalow which has two big four poster beds in it, ensuite and aircon… bliss.

Beach time here I come!
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