Good Morning Vietnam
Trip Start Sep 14, 2009
78Trip End Aug 16, 2010
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So we had arranged with the taxi guy in Cambodia to have a taxi waiting on the other side of the border in Vietnam waiting for us. With our previous experience I was less than optimistic but held back 50% payment to see if that would generate a result. The crossing is in the middle of nowhere down a dirt track road and upon arriving at the border we got through the "exit gate" for Cambodia without any problem, not so much as a whiff of a bribe needed
We spent one night in Ha Tien before catching a bus up to Can Tho. We reserved through the local tourist office who assured us that it would be a small air-conditioned bus and for us to be ready at 5.30 am for the collection at our hotel. We should have read the signs because that night after eating something in the cafe in front of the office, Issy went on their computer to check her emails etc
Sure enough, right on time, we had our lift outside which was a battered old car that couldn’t make 20km let alone the 200km we were set to travel. Actually it dropped us on the main road and we had to wait for the bus to come and pick us up. Another western girl arrived who had bought the same ticket so that reassured us that we were at least in the right place. At 5.45 an old, battered, knackered bus blasted its horn for us to load onto. We clambered onboard and joined the locals with their mountains of vegetables, animals, sacks of coal etc. etc. Another little scam from the agent but we were on our way at least. Now, we have previously mentioned nerve racking journeys that we have endured. I can honestly say that they pale into insignificance compared with the five hours we spent on this bus. Our driver was a long goatee bearded lunatic who literally blasted his way down a one and a half track road at high speed, sounding his horn at anything that stood in his way
Can Tho is at the heart of the Mekong Delta, the final vast area where the mighty Mekong River, having wound it’s way from Laos, through Cambodia and into Vietnam, finally makes it into the ocean.
We stayed there three nights and took a day long trip up the river in a small boat stopping off at the floating markets where local wholesalers bring their fruit and vegetables to sell onto the local shopkeepers. It is a fascinating sight as boats loaded with bananas, pineapples, dragon fruit, and all sorts of unknown vegetables, hang their speciality from their mast as their shop sign to draw in the customers. We also went to a rice noodle producer by the side of the river. Rice is boiled and then mashed up into a thick pancake like paste before being cooked rapidly on a large round open pan like a crepe. This is then laid on bamboo sheeting to dry out before it is shredded into noodles through a mangle. Rice is harvested in vast paddy fields using the many tributaries as a water resource in an intricate system of irrigation. Monkey bridges are used to cross these small streams which consist of a few simple bamboo poles strung together and thrown across the divide. There is a thin bamboo handrail that sways so much it is as much use as a chocolate teapot, so suffice to say after previous dunkings, Liz decided not to risk these!
The river is the heart of the region and houses were precariously perched on the water side using it as their life blood but also unfortunately their human dustbin. Little sheds hung over the edge for you to do your ablutions. It has to be said that I am not sure I would be able to spend an hour with The Sunday Times in one.