27th Nov: Up at the crack of dawn. Luckily, I was staying in the backpacker area, and the bus left from just around the corner, so I didn't have too far to go. I was hoping I would be on the same bus as Tom and Mandy, but no luck. They had people doing the one day tour on a seperate bus from those doing the two or three day tour. The morning was pretty boring as all we did was drive out of Saigon and down to the Mekong Delta.
We arrived at a random boat terminal. I think it was in My Tho, and that the island we went to was Unicorn Island or Turtle Island, or maybe both. We got some time to use the bathrooms and grab some drinks and snacks, beofre getting on the boat and heading over to an island, that was pretty close. On the island we were given lunch, it was fine, and had the option to ride a bike, but I am not a bike lover, so declined. Some of the others did it, and said the bikes were a bit crappy, and the path was very uneven.
we had a wander through the island, watching the coconut candy demonstration, and bought some. I liked them, but no one at home did. We were alos served fresh fuit and tea in some random cafe, and watched a music and singing performance by some disabled locals. It was pretty good. We also went on a rowing boat tour through the small waterways in the delta. This was lovely. Although we were all in a big line of boats, it was pretty peaceful, and the scenery was gorgeous. The only thing that marred the experience was when the rowers dropped us off at the end, they started asking for money. No way! You've already been paid.
After that it was back on the bus, and we drove to the town we would be staying at that night. I think we stayed in Can Tho, but can't remember. A lot of people were doing homestays on the delta, so we had left them there. We got checked in to our hotel. Pretty basic, but not bad, and then went out for some dinner. Bevan, who I was sharing a room with, had read up in the Lonely Planet about some
restaurants in the town, and so we set off for one of the reccommended ones. It was about a 15 minute walk from our hotel. When we got there we ordered some food, although we were a bit dubious as there were no prices in the menu. The food was delicious, we had pork, eggs, veggies, rice, and drinks. When we got the bill, it was cheap too. Only a few dollars. We headed back to the hotel and sat in the restaurant that was attached to it. Everyone else had eaten there. There were some interesting things on the menu like snake and rat. I was a little bit sad, we hadn't eaten there, as I could of tried some really weird shit. We had a couple of beers with the others, but turned in pretty early as we had to be up very early.
28th Nov: Up at the crack of dawn again. Went down to breakfast, as it was included on the trip. Then we took a walk down to the boats, and got on the boats to head to the market at Cai Rang I think. We took the boat and disembarked at the market.
We spent a while wandering around the different stalls. The majority of the market was food stuff. There was somme weird stuff, such as pigs' heads and skinless snakes. Eeewww! Then it was back on the boat to see the floating market. The term floating market sounds really exotic, but in fact it's just a load of boats plying their trade on the water. There were bigger boats that sold, in general, one thing or a couple of things, such as fruit. Then there were small boats that were a bit more like corner shops and had fewer items, but more choice. It was interesting to watch people buying things from the boats.
When we got off the boat, we went to a kind of farm type thing. We were in a slightly more rural area. We wandered through a small village, and arrived at a rice factory, I think. There was lots of rice paper drying outside in the sun, and further on in the farm there were some pens with piggies. Too cute! We also lost the Vietamese people in our group, as they had wandered off. Our guide, the excellent Mr. Drum, was funny, as he
said he prefers to guide foreigners, rather than Vietnamese, as they always wander off, and get lost. Then we went for an early lunch, since we had been up since the crac of dawn, and said goodbye to the people, who were doing the two day tour.
We spent a long time driving to our next destination. The crocodile farm! We spent about an hour there wandering around the farm. Urgh! So many crocodiles. However they were all safely locked away in their own compunds. they seperate the crocodiles, so all the ones of the same size and age are together. The baby ones were quite cute, but the big ones, just look evil. We spemt some time chilling with cold drinks at the front of the building, too. Then it was back on the road.
Our final stop for the day was Sam mountain, near Chau Doc. The mountain was really a monutain, more like a big hill. There was a temple and Ba Chau Xu Shrine is there. We climbed the steps to the temple, not too hard, and took in the views from the top. THe area surrounding the temple and the mountain is really
flat, so the views are good and you can see into Cambodia. We had a look around the temple and the shrine that is in a cave, located within the temple. The area was very pretty.
We drove to Chau Doc and to our hotel for the evening. Since there was a lot of us checking in, Bevan and I decided to let everyone else go first, and we would chill for ten minutes. Well when it got to us there were no rooms left, and they put the blame on us. Try to be nice, and it backfires in your face. Anyway we ended up in a different hotel, a few streets away. A cyclo driver took us to the hotel. It was fine. We then ventured back to the original hotel to meet up with the others for dinner. We had a lovely meal at a nearby restaurant, and went to the other's hotel for beers. They shut the hotel bar on us though, which was a bit mean. Bevan managed to find our hotel for us, I had no idea and if we had followed my insticts we would of gotten very lost!
Not a great night's sleep. The room was too hot, and I could hear the geckos all night. One must of been in our room (shudder, I think they are vile creatures) or just outside, and it would let out its call and then one by one others would respond decreasing in volume the further away they were. We must of gotten up around 5 or half past. We were both so knackered, that as we were leaving the room, Bevan still had the towel from her shower on her head, and I hadn't even noticed. I think it was only because she touched her hair that she noticed.
We made our way down to the other hotel and got brekky there. I think we were all knackered at by this point as we had had a couple of busy days with early starts and late ish nights. After breakfast, the group seperated into two groups, the people that would be heading back to HCMC, and those that were going on to Cambodia. I was slightly jealous, as I would of loved to of gone back to Cambodia. After a short drive, we boarded another boat, and set sail.
The water was a lot bluer (is that even a word?) here. We went to the Cham Muslim village. I think the people were of Khmer descent. We stopped to watch some women weaving. Mr. Drum also showed us the flood levels from previous years that were marked on the stilts of the houses. We walked to the mosque and had a quick look around the outside.
All too soon it was time to leave the Mekong Delta and start the long drive back to Saigon. To sum up, I really enjoyed the tour. The group of people I was with, were lovely and I think this really helped. Also the tour was really cheap $30 for the three day, and we only had to pay for evening meals (maybe the odd lunch) and snacks and drinks. Not bad at all. Travelling alone, I couldn't of done the same things for that cheap. Also our guide Mr. Drum was excellent. He was very knowledgeable and charismatic. He definitely deserved a tip. A busy, but enjoyable three day trip!
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