The Mekong Delta – Taking a step off the beaten path…

After travelling along the well beaten path in Vietnam from Hanoi to Ho Chi Min City (HCMC), we decided to veer off and see if there were parts of Vietnam that had been left untouched (or at least, less touched!) Before heading deeper into the Delta we took a day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels which are located in a northern district of HCMC. The tunnels were built by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. The Viet Cong hid in the network of tunnels which also served as communication and supply routes. Jeff is not a big guy, he was able to easily slip down the hole into the tunnels.

I didn’t even try. I realised when we were in Korea that I am a bit claustrophobic when it comes to tunnels…. the Cu Chi tunnels were way tinier than the tunnels we explored along the North/South Korean border so there was no way I was going down there!

I did however pose with some new Viet Cong friends that I made when at the tunnels. The trip was quite educational though, it was also bias – the “center” totally supported the Viet Cong and taught us about how evil the Americans were. I must admit though that if the tunnels were in America I’m not so sure that they would present information that wasn’t supporting the US.

Day trip options abound from HCMC. Instead of doing a day trip from HCMC to My Tho (a small town about two hours south west of HCMC) and back, we decided to just stay in My Tho and make our way west from there. We joined a tour and spent the day exploring the canals and the mini islands of the Mekong Delta.

Canal house on stilts. The poverty of Vietnam
became even more apparent as we moved
deeper into the Delta.

We took a “speed” boat to a small island and wandered around. After exploring the island we hopped into a small canoe and were ferried around by a lovely lady who spoke no English. I must say that the scenery as we wove through the canals was amazing!

Our day trip came to an end and we were pointed in the direction of a hotel. As the bus drove away we hoped that we had made the right decision. We found the hotel (it was a dump… but it was a place to sleep) and were able to express our desire for a room. We tried to find out when and where we could catch a bus to Can Tho, a larger city in the Delta, and our next destination. We were told that we could catch a 5:30am bus – that was the only way out of there. The town of My Tho is very small, and staying another day was not an option. The town was definitely off the beaten track – the English that had been so common everywhere else we visited in Vietnam was not so common anymore. We couldn’t find a place to eat, we ended up buying Happy Cow cheese and Ritz crackers for dinner. The big decision was whether or not to wake up early, or risk not catching the bus and hope that there was something a bit later. We decided to take our chances and woke up around 6:45.

The next day we wandered around the town, looking for a travel agency, or a bus station or something. We found a guy on a motorcycle who spoke English and told us he and a friend could take us to a gas station where we could catch a bus. We decided to go for it, so we jumped on the back of the motorcycles and hoped for the best. It was halfway into the trip that I realised I had absolutely no id on me and no money. I had long ago given up wearing the money belt which made Jeff responsible for keeping tabs on everything. As we sped along the road I kept looking back, hoping to see my husband to make sure that I wasn’t being kidnapped. I couldn’t turn my head because I was wearing my huge 60 liter pack on my back. Luckily we were okay. We arrived at the gas station safely and were shuffled into the back of a small, cramped van full of locals. Vietnamese techno blaring, we made our way towards Can Tho with hopes of finding a place to stay and things to do upon arrival.

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~ by dawseng on January 12, 2010.

3 Responses to “The Mekong Delta – Taking a step off the beaten path…”

  1. Oh how I’ve missed the Dawseng posts! I loved the last photo while you were on the canoe. It should be in a magazine! I enjoyed reading of your adventures. Some risks are definitely worth taking.

  2. 1.I suspect a US museum would bend over backwards to apologize for the war (it’s the presidential preference, nowadays). It’s good to see Vietnam still has some balls. Rock on, Uncle Ho!

    2. Can any place with Happy Cow cheese and Ritz crackers be considered off the beaten path? I honestly don’t know.

    3. Is that hole the real entrance to the tunnel? It looks like Jeff’s shoulders won’t fit.

    • 1. Fair enough.

      2. I dunno man… there wasn’t a McDonalds in sight…. and we had to search long and hard for the Ritz and Happy Cow – maybe not as far off the beaten path as when we were in the Mongolian countryside.

      3. Yep, that hole really is the entrance to the tunnel. Jeff was able to get in without raising his arms… he’s very Viet Cong you know… the others weren’t so lucky. I’m not sure you would have fit…

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