Having booked our stress free trip we got up early and headed down to wait for our pick up to get to the docks. The driver arrived on time and a few minutes later we were sat on the boat that would take us to the Cambodian border and into Vietnam.
It was a slow boat ride down the Mekong river, which was ultimately a little disappointing as there was very little to look at bar the banks of the river. We slowly began to realise along the way that our guide wasn”t the best at explaining exactly what was going on. This was ultimately confirmed when we were unable to establish when our light lunch would be served. We stopped off on the way to look at a rice noodle factory. However, after scrambling up the path, our guide got a phone call to go back to the boat. On out return there was now a second boat beside ours. As directed we returned to our boat only to realise that none of the people on it were on the boat with us before. Fortunately we realised this just as our new boat was setting off. We quickly jumped ship and got on the new boat heading to the border.
About an hour later we arrived at the border and quickly disembarked to have our passports stamped. We then got back on the boat when our new guide nearly set off two people short. Not an encouraging start to the 4 days we would spend with Delta Adventures. About half an hour later we arrived at the Vietnam border where, after a brief stop we were officially, if unceremoniously, welcomed into Vietnam. After our final brief trip down the Mekong we arrived at the Floating Hotel. The only real problem with the floating hotel when we arrived was that it hadn”t already sunk.
In a tiny room we were greeted by a rock solid bed and our first night under a mosquito net. Unfortunately the management didn”t quite get the purpose of the net and instead used it to catch the mosquitoes as opposed to trap them out. It also prevented any of the breeze from the fan reaching you.
Determined to spend as little time as possible in the room we headed out and explored Chau Doc. It was a small little town with a large market place and a a few small temples and pagodas. We had a look around them all before heading out for dinner and drink before eventually going to bed.
The next morning we were woken at 6:00am and we quickly left the room and had a disappointing breakfast before starting the tour. This was a larger disappointment as we had already seen most of the sights the day before. We did have a nice walk around a small village area, however, there was nobody to explain exactly what we were looking at.
Eventually we were loaded on the bus that would take us to Can Tho. On the way we stopped off at the Cave Temple which was a beautiful temple and well worth the 200 step climb that it took to reach it part way up the mountain.
After a long, and very bumpy bus ride later we eventually arrived at Can Tho. The room at the hotel was much nicer and we soon headed out to explore Can Tho. We had a wander around the by the waterfront, saw the statue of Ho Chi Minh, saw a few temples and stopped off to have a look around the museum. It was a little disappointing as the English signs only identified the item and gave no information about it”s importance. We had a nice meal before heading back to the hotel ready for another early start.
The next day we headed off and had a look around the largest floating market. This was the market where all the local market stalls on land came to buy their items. After a trip around the floating market we went to a rice factory and also a rice paper factory to see how the small families still made rice paper. After a quick meal it was time to get back on the bus and head to Vinh Long.
We were a little apprehensive about this on the way over and were slightly relieved to see another couple get off the bus with us at Vinh Long. A short boat ride later and we were at a very nice house where a few more people were also going to stay the night.
Before dinner we went for a bike ride around the nearby town which was a really lovely way to spend the afternoon, though it would have been a bit better on a comfier bike! After we got back to the home we online casinos had a few minutes to freshen up before helping out with the cooking. I say we helped out, Steph helped with the rolls and cutting the veg for the soup and vegetable chips whereas I helped with the setting the table and drying up!
After a lovely evening sitting around chatting with fellow travelers we spent our second night under a mosquito net. This was a much better net and actually kept the insects out. The next day we headed over to another floating market before looking at various small local factories all making local products. Whilst we had seen some of it on the other days it was a lot better this time as our guides were improving all the time and today”s told you a lot more. We stopped off along the way and had some local tea before a lunch. The best part of the day was after lunch though, as it was hammock time!
After an enjoyable time in the hammock we were loaded on to a ridiculously bumpy bus on the way to Saigon. We arrived about on time and soon had checked into our hotel. It was a small room, which was a bit of a shame, but it was clean and the staff were very friendly and helpful.
The next day we had a good explore around Saigon. Our guide book included a large walking tour around the main sights and attractions in Saigon. The traffic was truly bonkers and it took us some time to get used to the policy of walk slowly out into the road and the traffic will avoid you. Still it certainly seems to work and, if you didn”t, you would never be able to cross the road.
The main highlight of the day was a trip in the Reunification Palace telling the history of how Vietnam was able to overthrow the invading American army. Who says history is only written by the victors? The inside of the palace was very interesting and it really helped that there was a free guided tour to explain everything to us. Unfortunately the building itself is a “a magnificent piece of 60″s architecture” which largely means it is a big concrete eyesore that people try to find interesting points in. This is a shame as the photo of the old palace that was knocked down, after being partially bombed, was a lot more impressive.
We finished our day at a local church – it was Easter Sunday after all. The singing from the choir was very good, although it was all in Vietnamese so we couldn”t understand any of it. The service was translated into English and we listened to it on headphones. It was a slightly confusing sermon as they were seemingly finishing an in depth look at Hebrews. It was also a little difficult to follow the translation at some stages. However in general it was really good and it was great to be celebrating Easter with others. After we got back to the hotel room we packed up ready for the next day when we would be getting a bus to Dalat a city up in the hills.