Good bye Cambodia. Up early and on a bus to get to a bus which 1.5hrs after we left the guesthouse went back past it (very productive – we are not at all bitter about the waste of valuable sleeping time – or sarcastic) that eventually took us to a boat. Mission today is to make it to Chau doc in the Mekong in Viet nam. Praying the border crossing goes a little better than the last one It nice travelling by boat for a change. Before we know it we at the border, it could not have been easier! On the Viet nam side we just sat in a café and the guide did everything for us – for no extra $$! Our guide on the Vietnam side was quite a character. She gave us some local fruit to try and a Vietnamese lesson. She talked us into joining a 3 day tour though the Mekong to Saigon with the rest of the boat: 3 Irish and 2 poms. Our first impressions of Vietnam are good ones - the people of the Mekong are very friendly and wave as we go by in the boat.
Day 2 of our Mekong tour. Up early again to our disgust! We head off see a fish farm and a little tribal village that weave sarongs. Interesting but all over by 9am.
Then things start getting a little weird. Our guide that we were suppose to have for the whole trip says things have changed and we are no longer going with her and sends us off with another lady. The new guide takes us back to catch a bus, then too say goodbye. We now are on a tour with no guide. A van comes and picks us up to take us to a bus (seeing a trend?). Our bus turns out to be a local bus and now instead of a guide we have a very angry Vietnamese man with a small man complex. After giving our tickets, and getting yelled at a bit in Vietnamese we are off. The small man continues to yell through the whole trip but now it is mostly at people on the side of the road. A bit odd really. He fancied himself as pretty tough and liked showing Gaz his muscles: it made an already very uncomfortable bus trip worse. Was a bit like seeing the one person play good cop and then bad cop. Before we all know it the bus stops at a petrol station and we are ordered off by little guy and our bags taken out. This uncomfortable bus now seems like a haven. No one speaks English – seriously our Vietnamese was more fluent since we had hello and thank-you, neither of which were helpful or got us anywhere. We have no idea where we are (even what town), the bus driver refused to give our ticket (proof of next day tour) back. Our bus then took off in a great hurry. Its looking like we got scammed. We have pre paid a hotel and the tour the next day and we are stuck at a petrol station, somewhere, with no tickets and to top it off no idea of where we were supposed to be staying. Adding to our suspicion was the ‘hotline’ phone number for the tour company was disconnected. We eventually work out we are in the right town, Can Tho. Some moto drivers keep saying the will give free ride to a hotel but the language barrier was big! We eventually have no choice but to go with the motos. We are relieved to find they take us to a hotel that was expecting us and the tour goes on……The beer in the lobby may just of been the best we have ever tasted – I think our adventure would make a good ‘hard earned thurst’ advert. We were a pretty tight tour group before our dramas but now we aren’t keen to break off at all and go everywhere together – hunting as a pack.
Day three and we have a tour of floating markets and a cruise around the Mekong. The boat trip was great! So much to see and was very entertaining! The kids are so cute they all come out and eagerly wave- you have never seen such earnest waving. Great to see how the people live along the Mekong. Really they do all their living right on the river – we see people bathing, washing their clothes and dishes and even cleaning vegetables (while knowing that EVERYTHING that you don’t want in your water is going into it – we see toilets set up right on the banks).
After the river markets we dock at a rice paper making business. It’s a pretty clever system – they have animal hide stretched out over a vat of boiling water and they pour over rice powder and water mix, steam it and another rolls it off the vat using a bamboo bat and dry it on bamboo sheets.
Tour of the Mekong has come to an end and we are off to Saigon/ HCMC.