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Published: March 5th 2015
My pickup on Tuesday morning
was right on time, at 7.30am
. I ordered breakfast at the hotel at 6.30, then waited over half an hour to receive one lonely banana crepe and a cup of Lipton tea. Certainly not worth the wait, but what can I expect for AUD$2.20?
Much to my surprise the bus left on time as well, we pulled out of the bus station dead on 8.00am
. I am travelling on a small modern bus with Futa Buslines and this 3 hour trip cost me AUD$8.50. Add on the extra half hour wasted when the driver had to return to pick up three passengers left behind at a rest stop, and we arrived in Can Tho at 11.30.
I got a moto ride to Mekong-Logis Guesthouse, where I was staying. Again there were no tuk tuks in Can Tho, so my suitcase was balanced between the driver's knees as we flew through the streets. The Guesthouse was located down a long laneway between two streets, and had two addresses, depending from which street you entered from. Lane 1 from one street and Lane
114 from the other, which just adds to the confusion. This French run guesthouse had great reviews on Trip Advisor, all
focusing on the floating market tour given by the daughter of the house, who spoke excellent English. I must admit, I was influenced by these rave reviews when I booked.
Sometimes things just don't pan out. Linh, the daughter, had to go to school on the only full day I was there so I was unable to take her tour. Her parents didn't speak a word of English, and I'm just not getting that 'friendly family guesthouse' thing others raved about. To top it off, the beds are the hardest I have ever slept on! Never mind, I'm only here two nights, and the dog is friendly.
I organised my own floating market tour with Eco-Tours, who thankfully, were quick to respond to my query on Tuesday afternoon
. I seemed to have lost my 'travel mojo' that day and I wasn't particularly interested in doing anything. I took the street map Linl gave me and walked down to the waterfront where I had an overpriced meal in a big eatery overlooking the water. I wandered around, felt a headache developing, so headed back to my room. Certainly not my best day, but I guess I need to have them to
appreciate the good ones.
After a lousy night's sleep on my super hard bed, I was up and waiting in the laneway at 5.00am on Wednesday morning for my tour pickup. She arrived on time, on a moto, and whisked me down to the waterfront to catch my boat, another small wooden one with seating for two people. This was basically a private tour as I was the only one there and it cost me 4,000,000 dong or AUD$24. The boatman revved the motor and we headed down river for the 40 minute trip to the Cai Rang floating markets, the biggest in the Mekong Delta.
I hate to say it but I was disappointed with them. I expected lots of small boats overflowing with produce, women in cone hats, lots of activity, colour and photo opportunities. Instead there were lots of big boats, lots of watermelon and pineapple for colour, and a few smaller boats buying from the larger ones, as this is essentially a wholesale fruit and vege market. Boats identify what they're selling by hanging a sample of their produce from the top of a long pole. If you want pineapple, simply scan the horizon
for a hanging pineapple.
There is a second, smaller, floating market that can be visited from Can Tho called Phong Dien. As it's another two hours further down river, it's usually visited as part of a full day tour.
After leaving the markets we cruised down a small side canal and visited a rice noodle factory where four women worked tirelessly to produce up to 1000kg of noodles a day. I bought paper thin, crispy banana noodle crepes cooked on the spot by being tossed between two wire holders, over an open flame. A cheap and tasty snack at .60c each. The tour finished at 8.30 and I declined the offered lift back to the guesthouse. I wanted to visit Ong Temple and explore the streets a little further.
In a fantastic location facing the Can Tho River and decorated with huge incense coils, this Chinese temple is the most interesting religious site in town. It was originally built in the late 19th century to worship Kuang Kung, a deity symbolising loyalty, justice, reason, intelligence, honour and courage.
Inside the temple there was a charcoal burner where a man was burning spirit money, dropping them into
the flames one by one. He was also burning a small print of an Asian girl, I'm not sure what she signified. Spirit money is not real currency. It is used as a symbol of transformation and the payment of spiritual debts, and Asians also believe it can be spent in the afterlife.
I spent a quiet afternoon in my room reading and blogging in the air conditioning. Can Tho has nothing else to offer me. Tomorrow I have booked myself onto the 7am bus to Ho Chi Minh City.
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