Wednesday 8 April 2015
After technically departing Cambodia by river, I left immigration and was back on the boat and it was a short 5 minute trip to the Vietnamese border control. One of the crew had collected all the passports and disappeared with them which felt unnerving. However, this was short lived as 15 minutes later I was back on the boat for an hour before arriving at the Victoria Chau Doc Hotel. Got upgraded from a double superior to a river view room. Awesome!
I didn’t bother unpacking because I knew I was going to be up early tomorrow to move on, so I headed out for a few beers and food. After a 10 minute stroll through the park, my first Vietnamese beer was the delightful Larue. It was even tastier at 10,000 Vietnamese Dong or 10,000 VND (36p).
Next stop was right opposite the hotel called Mekong. I wandered back through the park trying not to step on any Karate student as it appeared they enjoyed their classes outdoors.
Arriving at the Mekong restaurant, I sampled the Saigon beer at 15,000 VND (54p). I think I’m going to be ok for booze in Vietnam me thinks. Spring rolls, fried squid and fried beef noodles done at an cost of 214,000 VND (£7.92) including 4 beers, this cheeky starfish decided to call it a night….
Another early start today as I needed to get my Ford Transit shuttle bus at 7:30am to Can Tho. Shame I couldn’t have stayed longer at this hotel and make full use of their pool but needs must! Packing in a hearty breakfast of vegetable dumplings, fried rice and a noodle soup, I was ready to be on my way. Weaving through the traffic of mopeds, after 3 hours, I hit the more rural area where the vista was banana trees and green paddy fields. This was short lived as I was soon back on bumpy ground weaving in and out of traffic. I eventually arrived at the dock at Can Tho at 11am and boarded the Mekong Eyes boat. After a brief introduction I checked out my shoebox of a cabin. It even had a balcony. I had an hour before lunch so I took the opportunity to have a beer on top deck. Whilst sipping my can of Tiger, I realised hay fever may have kicked in! I couldn’t even escape it by leaving the UK.
Lunch was in the lower deck of the boat. Started off with chicken soup (chicken and sweetcorn soup really!). Then I had to make my own spring rolls with rice pancakes, vermicelli noodles, mint leaves, pineapple and some pieces off a fried giant gourami fish. “Main course” for my lunch was BBQ chicken with lemongrass and mango with rice and mixed vegetables followed by Che Boui for dessert. Pomelo and green beans mixed with tapioca starch and topped with coconut milk, it was nice but had the consistency of, how do I put it politely?…snot! I managed to eat it and keep it down trying hard not to think about it too much.
An hour and a half after lunch, I was offered the chance to go on a nature walk to a small village. Equipped with my life jacket I hopped onto a smaller boat to shore. It was very serene walking past banana trees, pomelo trees, paddy fields, orchids, pineapple plants and coconut trees. I wouldn’t say I was a huge nature lover but even I surprised myself. Maybe it was the sunshine, peacefulness and calm that made it so enjoyable, or it could have been the couple of Tiger beers I had at lunch.
The guided walk ended at some local farmers place where they dished up fruit as a refreshment. They had goats, cows, chickens and pythons! A local family with 3 children, they were very welcoming. I think I found my long lost kid here.
Back on the boat, included as part of the tour was a cocktail on top deck whilst watching the sunset.
Doesn’t get any better than that. In military style, dinner was at 7pm starting off with prawn crackers and lotus root salad followed by steamed calamari with ginger and onion. Then it was caramelised catfish in a clay pot with bok choi and garlic. Dessert was a tropical fruit salad. I certainly wasn’t going to leave the boat unfed it seems.
Breakfast, I was told would be at 7am but if I could settle any bills before this time in the morning. Yes, I know…another early start. With that said, it was time to call it a day ready for my next town of Cái Bè in the morning…