Meandering the Mekong

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Where I stayed
There were 3 of them, we were in #3

Flag of Vietnam  , Cần Thơ,
Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Today started with icy drinks on the banks of the river and ended in the same fashion. We must have crossed at least 40 bridges on our route, as the Mekong splits into dozens of tributaries on its way to the sea, a couple which were large enough to register as big hills for the bikes. Heading out on small roads through thick jungle was fantastic and the scenery reminiscent of the backwaters of Kerala – although much less chaotic. People were incredibly friendly and we were waved and smiled at throughout the day and happily welcomed for our many drinks stops. At lunch the two ladies spent ages looking online and then writing out lots of helpful phrases for us in Vietnamese with the English below. They also gave us lots of bananas for energy.

We were running low on Dong, and after splashing the last of our money on delicious seafood rice, we worried we might not have enough for the ferry across the river to Vinh Long. Luckily, it turned out to cost 10p and we had a welcome 15minute sit down on board before the final 20 miles to Cantho.

The bridge into Cantho was an enormous one, unbelievably steep, especially for tired legs, and frustratingly it was still 3km into town. At this point we hit the usual millions of mopeds found in any Vietnamese town. We also immediately started to see tourists, all looking sweaty from hair-raising minibus journeys from Saigon. We found a great hotel which had clearly worked out what tourists want and capitalised on it. They had 3 hotels in the same road all with immaculately clean, cheap rooms, cable TV and wifi – no frills and no worries about bringing in the bikes – great.

Cantho is a really fun town, with loads of mad markets and a river front of pretty restaurants and bars. After a relaxing drink on the water, we headed into town, away from the dozens of people on Mekong tours, to find a Lonely planet recommended Italian restaurant. Even better, by an amazing coincidence, we bumped in to our Vietnamese friends from the previous night! Mia and Hau had just finished supper so we arranged to meet us for breakfast in the morning – perfect.

The lonely planet's restaurant had clearly moved, so we found another Italian on the riverfront and ordered a feast of pasta to fuel us for 75 miles in the morning. We were having a very relaxing time reading and waiting for our food when the next door table of a German and Australian progressed from boring the restaurant by talking really loudly about their day’s activities to talking really loudly about how they can’t understand how English people can go out and eat and read instead of talk! He explained how he had once been to England and seen two people in a restaurant both reading newspapers and been completely shocked. They seemed to have forgotten that English people speak English pretty well. I felt like smacking him over the head with my book and explaining that we spent the 7000 miles it took us to cycle here talking. At that moment however an outside table became free and we moved away from them, explaining to the waiter that some people were making too much noise inside. The couple left shortly afterwards looking pretty shamefaced – nasty judgemental noisy boring people.

Back at the hotel, we planned the route to the border, feeling quite sad that it will be our last day in Vietnam, after 6 weeks and some serious highs and lows.

Miles cycled: 71 with almost as many bridges
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