Trips out to the Southern Mekong Delta

Trip Start Jan 09, 2013
Trip End Aug 01, 2013

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Whilst in Saigon i decided to take some mini trips to the central and northern Mekong Delta areas of Southern Vietnam. The Mekong is a huge river, starting somewhere up around China or maybe beyond and it runs in to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam and supports so much natural and human life its untrue and so i wanted to see as many of the smaller areas and larger more touristy spots too while i had a chance.

First trip was around a place called Cao Lanh just for 2 days and 1 night. The main thing to see was the Xeo Buyt Relic which is basically a beauty spot but historical war site where a command was run in deep, Catjeput forest which is that seriously overgrown, almost out of control yet naturally unique forestry which is simply stunning to see. The site was very remote and so didn't have many visiorst, but the ones there were mainly Vietnamese. The whole area was so beautiful with paddy fields, Lotus flowers and beautiful forestry. The leftovers of the war remnants weren't so amazing to see though the buildings themselves looked like recreations but when you see the site as a whole, with the miniature tunnels, it does make you realise how threatening the whole scene must have been during the war. I drove through many smaller areas and saw lots of the Mekong and surrounding life so i immediately planned the 2nd trip to visit more central and northern corner points on the next trip which i did over 4 days and 3 nights.

The second trip took me to Chau Doc in the north west corner of the Mekong on the border with Cambodia and from Sam Mountain there you can see in to Cambodia... or so they say?! There were some beautiful pagoda's there too but the highlight was just getting there driving through these flourishing small street side villages all brimming with business from the mekong. The whole area looks tropical, like the Caribbean, with palm tress lining all the streets and every kind of fruit growing and being sold all over the place, and because of its abundance, at very cheap prices too. I bought a kilo of bananas for 7000VND, that about 25p and a kilo of mangoes for 60p. A fresh coconut water followed by eating of the flesh for just 35p and all kinds of fruits i had never even seen before. Back in Saigon i had sampled a fruit i didn't know the name of from the market and i swear it was like eating pure brown sugar, not only the texture but the super sweetness of it. Then on this trip i saw loads of these bunches of what looked like small peaches but weren't, now i cant remember the name but they were this, almost unnatural zingy orange in colour, and so sweet and sour at the same time.The mangoes were the best i've ever tasted too and so i just practically lived off fruit, oh and of course seafood too which also came at great prices. In fact since hitting the south i've been having fish every day, taking advantage of the location and prices.

After Chau Doc i tried to find this national park at Tram Chim where you could hire a boat and see loads of Mekong mini rivers and local wildlife. After a while i found the park headquarters and as i pulled in on the motorbike, the security guard ushered me towards the main reception and pointing up the ramp in to the office. To give you the picture, almost all houses, offices and building fronts have a step, or steps leading inside and usually have a mobile ramp in one part to take motorbikes in,  usually at night for safety. Now there was a motorbike car park to the side  but this security guard kept pointing me to go to the office. I motioned to him a couple of times if he meant me going in to the office and pointed at myself and my motorbike then at the office and he just nodded, smiled and pointed again. I could see a couple of women behind the reception and a guy at reception to the side of the ramp which was about a meter long and high at about a 40 degree handle and so i twisted the throttle and up i shot straight into the office and up to the reception desk but the minute i did it i realised i shouldn't have done it! I knew it wasn't right but the security guard was so sure but anyway, the guy, who was the manager and the girls just burst out laughing and so did i as i realised what i had just done, and i just said that the security guard told me to, but what he obviously meant was that he was just showing me where the office was, not to actually drive up in to the reception, so he was laughing his head off, i was too and everyone could see what had happened and, well, i guess you had to be there but it was very funny, and a little embarrassing too! Anyway, after all that, it was too expensive so i decided to pass and move on. 

I stayed in Chau Doc for two nights exploring the area and then drove down to Long Xuyen, ferried over to a peninsula and over to Sa Dec and then back over to Can Tho which is where the biggest floating market is and is a central point of the Mekong Delta.

I got up early and walked to the river and was approached to hire a boat which i bargained to 100,000, so 3 quid for an hour..bargain! The floating market was great, all theses people coming together to trade or buy smaller amounts of fruit and veg but it was great to see these river people living on their boats and the river and see the hustle and bustle of it all and i got some great photos. Afterwards i took a long route back to try a different route from my last route back and took a lengthy 6 hour trip back but through beautiful minor roads and small villages and made it back at sunset in Saigon.

So the plan  now is to stay here a day or two and then head to Cambodia taking the Southern route kind of zig zagging up the southern peninsula's and seeing a lot of coastal fishing areas that really aren't on the tourist trail at all. So i should be in Cambodia in about 5 days and from there i'm still a little unsure... my plans have changed slightly as i need to be in Thailand sooner to meet Jamie & Suzanne on their honeymoon! Can't wait... so might skip Laos and do a little more of Cambodia or stick to the plan but travel a bit quicker and more sparingly but ill decide over the next 3 or 4 days. Its just another great problem to have...!!

If i remember rightly i left you ll with a cliff hanger again last time but i'm afraid its gonna have to wait, i'll update the final few days of Vietnam and then reveal all then!

Love to you all and thanks for all my messages, i love getting them, they make a huge difference...xx

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carl hodgson on

great read ! better then the lonely planet guide !

Think you should do a book
Keep up the good work

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