off we go! travel blog

Can Tho floating market

Fresh pineapple?

Lotus flowers


Coconut plantation

Lunch - making spring rolls at the table

Small boat on the Mekong

Saigon is a noisy city; on arrival we were dropped at Sinhtourist's offices in the backpacker area, bustling with lots of people. We checked in, changed our tickets then we were taken to the hotel Sinhtourist had booked for us. The modern building was about 12 feet wide, the bedroom barely contained a double bed but it did have a shower room and it was very clean. Unfortunately, due to its location we were kept awake most of the night by surround sound from all the karaoke bars and no-one could sing! Not a hotel we will be recommending to anyone. Out to supper via an ATM, drew out 500,000 Dong and then remembered they are about 33,000 to the pound! It was enough to buy supper so we had to find another ATM and this time drawing out 3.000.000 - millionaires!

We rejoined Sinhtourist for their Mekong Delta trip; another couple of hours in their bus before we boarded a river boat and pottered around one of the branches of the Mekong. We were shown coconut processing plants, the water coconuts (a different tree to the palms we knew of). Had a demonstration of how to make coconut candies, and very tasty they were too; we bought some coconut and ginger candy (for emergencies, you understand!) We were decanted into small boats to visit a narrow river to a place for a typical Vietnamese lunch, which was ok, a bit mass-produced though. It was a pleasant day on the river, passing small hamlets, watching the occasional local fisherman hauling pots and just relaxing and then back on the bloody bus for another 3 hour journey to the hotel. This was a great deal better than last night's and the rooms were vast in comparison.

Day 2

Up early to grab breakfast so we could go to the floating market at Can Tho. We joined a boat for the trip up river to the market. Not as colourful as we were led to believe but interesting to watch the goings on. Larger boats contained produce to sell, great mounds of fruits and vegetables, hidden in their holds, and the buyers in smaller boats, going from seller to seller. All this and smaller boats coming alongside the tourist boats offering pineapples, coconuts and chilled canned drinks. It was, at times, bedlam, especially when arguments broke out between these boats, all good fun.

On, by boat, to a narrow river that led to a fruit farm. Here they grew papaya, mangoes, jack fruit, dragon fruit, limes, oranges and bananas - and lotus, the flowers, stems and seeds of which they eat. We were invited to taste a selection of these - and they tasted wonderful, so fresh and full of flavour, not like we get in the UK. So, back on the boat, then bus back to the hotel for lunch - Ruth saw her first rat! She coped very well but had to be escorted by a young Frenchman from the table (I missed this as I had gone to the loo). After all that excitement we boarded the bus to return to HCMC. By this time we had nicknamed the driver Mr 5 toots as every time he wanted to overtake one of the million scooters buzzing around, he would issue at least 5 toots on the horn, even more for competing buses or the odd lorry with three layers of ducks! We stopped at a small town, Binh Minh, at its fruit and vegetable market for a short wander. Finally arrived in HCMC then to our hotel; the hotel was very much smarter than we expected. We turned up in T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops but they didn't bat an eyelid! Now luxuriating in our fabulous room; well, it's nice to spoil ourselves from time to time.

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