Can Tho – Mekong Delta, Vietnam – May, 2016

We had a bit of a rough start on this leg of the trip. After we had made our plans and hotel booking in Can Tho, we found out it was a holiday long weekend in Vietnam. It was reunification day and labour day. With that being said, we arrived at the bus station in Ho Chi Minh city to utter chaotic madness. First of all, getting a bus ticket is not very straightforward – we wanted to go with a reputable bus company (some of them are very sketchy) so we stopped in at the Futa bus office in district 1 near our hotel. It was super busy in the bus office because of the holiday but we managed to ask someone about tickets to Can tho. We were told we couldn’t book them at that particular office and had to go to the office in district 5. Instead, we asked our hotel to call the bus station to make a reservation for us, which they gladly did. They gave us a piece of scrap paper with our name, bus time, seat numbers etc – no official voucher or anything. The next day we went by taxi to the bus ticket office in district 5 where we handed in our scrap piece of paper, paid, and were issued a ‘real’ ticket. Then we boarded a shuttle bus that took us to the actual bus station. You just have to trust the process and not worry because it all seems to work just fine unless it’s a holiday!

We arrived at the bus station to a chaotic mass of people, I think everyone from the city was there catching a bus to somewhere. There was no where to sit, no where to stand out of the sun, we could not even get inside the station because there were so many people, it was utter madness. I was lucky because a nice man offered me to stand in a small, but very crowded, section of shade (it was apparent that I was literally melting and I think he felt sorry for me). It turned out that he had been waiting for over 4 hours for his bus and all the buses were around 4 hours late because of a huge traffic jam. So we started wondering if we should just bail at this point and forget about going all together, but something made us stick it out and like everyone else we boarded our bus 4 hours late.

We were on a sleeper bus which was really quite nice, it was a relaxing 4 hour journey to Can Tho – we were so relieved to actually be on a bus and out of the chaotic bus station. We had wifi on the bus and they supplied drinking water, they also made a stop half way for about 20 minutes. It was around 10PM when we finally arrived and the city was so pretty at night, it was all lit up and it looked like a mini Las Vegas with all the neon lights.

IMG_3770 IMG_3771

The next morning we were ready to go at 5AM, it’s such a crazy time to head out for the day but that’s when the floating markets are at their best. Our guide, Dat (aka Tom), picked us up at our hotel and we boarded a small sampan which took us to the wholesale floating market. It was so interesting to see a market like this. The boats are large and loaded right up with whatever fruit or vegetable they are selling.

01ee47b2be5d2fe9c92d4106e61fe7a7726f85c20c01ff88a10e2c206cd6aa2909206bed412493b9fdaa 01f08967424018dce6eec07355ffb59d3573a7eb1d 010c1f98d44b1954c4ab5adf6222186626c5d64b22 011a272ca1427aa7fefe0ab6e6469ac192d4726bf701d13e669cda7cf4a13880addc759fd2b490637373016ca6387c0472dd95d271ba5bcdf3f8d9baddc11a

Each boat had a tall flag pole that displayed the item they were selling. The locals selling from these boats live on them until all their product has been sold. You can only buy large quantities at this market with the exception of the small boats that sell breakfast food and coffee or tea. We had Banh Mi from one little boat and we each had a noodle soup from another boat. Then we both enjoyed a traditional Vietnamese coffee from the ‘coffee boat’.

010535df5ce93cc0cfcaa1b13627669ce1cb7e62a4 01f6c4aac0bc1c45d4e077a9ae2e2a43a88e9c823c 0102f6678f745c69da3bfa39c4e390ed44162f14c6 014a6ba3222785e019d9f16a5a91d0e0c00b9d8cdb 01f2b8146418cf908a0f537cb09c71abe0fdfb78d80162e710000c71fc7730d97c8cb45dbefe971154b1 012fd84307bbef6d5edf120ff51a8e747a963b6c8001593e9cc7a73d12ede0aa5b66aab21a77c646b137

The sunrise was absolutely gorgeous!

01c76c9d3d0979d611d637d9dc2bb7b5396c2241e701bb2b748e8cd5693a4fe34952aa8ced70c391b8a6

We noticed a lot of the boats had eyes painted on the front, our guide told us that the eyes protect the boat from ghosts or evil spirits.

01ccc9c1a10b9c7c4fde5607c34e7d41cf66327a5b

We also saw a lot boats that had this type of fishing net which we had never seen before.

014da57ea6fb71e5e058815dac4a241b706b3b6f41

We continued along the river until we reached the retail floating market – these sellers likely bought their product from the wholesale market and they sell small quantities to the nearby villagers. Dat (Tom) bought us fruit to snack on and also some ginger infused banana chips that were incredible and totally addictive, which he later sent home with me.

0171dcf412c7c607ea5e8c5fd6816f413143418b64 0171e54324e281c856e14f590481b695120bcb214e 0109aee03097a185745282c89c3bbefd497252ec4c 018c96aecded6676bdc49e6726676555c597252958 01ffda810c2e30390f166429d7d5ab05300572a3ce 01e2d70ff7a03e4da120b4d9d1d1e3ea2d4308560a 01e9c995291f6a6825e72e226c1f231cce3cb84023 01e74362f6a7574420d2ade263f856917baa2b1898 01aa77a5a7a68e049213f53763c6692b4980f80245 01a50a6633e970cb55fc3c6b41d6a833567472808b 01c422e91513b90e49c6824c7d3d0224f03051b8c80183e1af48495bd7a97c691902748b15222054a549 01934c114659d3db55edb166876c4f5316fad9976e 01221584708d48474727ca20b0d59ada6efde575ec018b032ce850d40d40f5c8b7b7e2b80509b2e9686501f3d79db73e25b51ac085dc6e31f6c86c909b0a06

After visiting the markets we ventured down the small canals that are abundant in the Mekong Delta countryside. We got out for a short walk to see how the locals live. Some of the pedestrian bridges that cross the canals are referred to as ‘monkey bridge’, it’s basically a couple of poles of bamboo with one bamboo pole as a railing…it’s very rickety and unstable, you need really good balance to cross on these!

0140f3c79a898606a4bf425a49b43d4915a27dc239 016330a19171682060476c7d49589101975b76e70a01ad035da707dd1825ee4e636fc3f6c26c32646d5a 0185e55acfe986fc621d926e7d7144ef8fbeb83581 015af9859e13edad6f79c3c52e6a8cf5bc7033f108017fd1dd158c715e873d5b3f66567eb6f6960210eb019bbcaff2d8067412ebe61183c15e1b37ee1e65e40137f575b0d5d64d12d99abc0676c714b46d8735810140577841264d9029e9c41a2a9f2aa26445fa2d78 015ff46ed4734694d405b9b9201c24b1056a5328ce

While our sampan driver waited for us, she made these lovely gifts for us out of palm leaves.

01f77bfae76b2687f53dea35d961f6dc4d5b0ad850 01ab6e7dd62d221ab51b6a790e235623404e2e200e

Our last stop of the morning was at an authentic noodle factory. This family has been making noodles for generations. In one day they will make 600 kilo’s of noodles to sell to wholesalers and restaurants. It was an interesting process to see, the noodles are made with tapioca and rice flour, then the mixture is spread thin like a big pancake and steamed. After that, they are put on bamboo mats to dry in the sun for about 3 hours. Then they are cut and packaged for sale. It’s strictly a family run business and the kids will not be attending further education because they will take over the business from their parents.

01055eaf6f29c095b64edd019d1a17bd878b9583d0 0189ee47a45747dc9f8dd35f1aa262a62eea4c9252 01a5a9eaa27f7a714327df851349d61c62a7180368014af97ceaf0db1850ffc54dc90d886c741bfb00ed

We had a 2 hour break back at the room and then headed out on our afternoon motorbike tour. We were happy to see that one of our guides was ‘Dat’ again, we sure enjoyed his company in the morning. Our second guide (my motorbike driver) was Thien but he said to call him Jerry – he had been given the name Jerry from an English teacher. That’s when Dat piped in and said we could call him Tom – funny guys. These two guys had us laughing all afternoon and we had a lot of fun with them! Our first visit was to a small temple that had a mangrove tree over 150 years old. This tree was amazing and massive, we couldn’t believe how spread out it was.

015d5bca9744d3f945e7de00b532316c07f2f17b650111390ff14f7b5f96202248bcc6c1b3cfc0ddbeb9 01464fb21b5a9a7fb93c739d774b55ee890575a879 015445411fd5c193a6a91dd1fdc0a54fdf34a76858

After driving on the very narrow country roads that follow the canal, we took a small ferry and arrived at a Meditation Center which is the largest Buddhist meditation center in the Mekong Delta. Even though it is a new structure, it was beautiful to see and quite busy since it was a holiday.

013289e52a52e70a0de27226ba65961e6ea707f6bf 01cf92d7c635ecd09f705a7f74a23859305d9a138a

We stopped for a drink across from the meditation center at the coolest cafe ever! It was a ‘hammock cafe’ and it was so relaxing to just sip on a coconut while swinging in a hammock and visiting with Tom (Dat) and Jerry (Thien). While we were here, it started to pour so we stayed in our hammocks a little longer and waited for the rain to let up. The rest of our tour was fantastic and they took us through small villages along the canals and we saw so many little roads lined with trees and flowers, little bridges that cross the canals, and local families and kids waving hello as we drove by.

015f14e744d8990d9ea55b23f3eea5852095e5a0b301b45b1edaddbd868b3df12e204cbc39f4e38804c20167299bb1becd84b8e83d3549e87a109aa7ffbe53 013e03ec5312ea75b20527fea5d164897e254a3f5c

Tom and Jerry offered to join us for dinner and take us to a place that specialized in Vietnamese pancakes. The restaurant was packed with locals and the food was very good. After dinner they took us to our hotel and we said our goodbye’s.

014b35728dd31312555afb8871b92e5dee92306877

Touring with Dat and Thien was awesome, they were so open with information, both of them really knew their history and we learned a lot from them. We talked about everything from daily life, to politics, to religion, to how the north and south are still somewhat divided even after all these years of being reunified. It was a long day but so very interesting and we really got the experience that we were hoping for in our visit to the Mekong Delta.

01dccde4c8fcbf139e1cfa715b14ad78b373014483019d21f5d648ccdc4423d781de98201a8a379677e8

The next morning we boarded our bus back to Ho Chi Minh city for our last few days in Vietnam. We were happy and very relieved that this bus was on time!

Where we stayed: Spring Hotel 

Tour Company: Eco Tours Can Tho 

Written by: Tammy Hermann…Live~Love~Travel

 

 

 

 

 

Tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Can Tho – Mekong Delta, Vietnam – May, 2016

  1. Thien says:

    It is always great to see your new post; however, this time my feeling is different, which can not be expressed by words. This is maybe because it gonna be about our hometown, Can Tho city ! I feel so happy to read that you did really enjoy your time in Can Tho city. Additionally, I can see loads of beautiful and colourful pics of floating markets and countryside, which make me love my homeland even more ! The most interesting part is when I saw our handsome faces (LOL) on pics of us with two of you, recalling such a great day we hanged out with you ! Thanks again for being so friendly and kind with us !

    • admin says:

      A big thank you goes out to you guys for showing us your beautiful home and being so willing to share it with us! We had such a great time hanging out with you guys too and we will always remember the laughs we shared. It’s a special place where you live 🙂

  2. Lorraine says:

    Beautiful floating market different then the one we saw in Thailand. Great post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.