5 Days in Vietnam - Just enough time for a little taste.
27.11.2015 - 28.11.2015 35 °C
With a tiny backpack and a taste for adventure, Good Morning, Vietnam!
5 days - Best of Southern Vietnam is offered by Vietnam Unique Tours. They boast "must" places to visit include: Ho Chi Minh city, Mekong Delta, Can Tho, Ben Tre, Cai Rang floating market. Experience Vietnamese ordinary life in the South of Vietnam. I found them online.
Thoughts of Vietnam became firm when I stepped into a travel agency earlier the week and found that a Vietnam visa could not be done on the Water Festival holidays. "Paree" said she'd do a visa in 1/2 day, the day before the festival started. I found a 5 day Southern Vietnam tour and booked it. Now, just the bus to sort out. The web tells horror stories about overnight buses, and calls them "rolling coffins", with claims of drivers sleep deprived and on drugs or booze. Other stories tell of molesting and missing luggage. Well, that quashed that idea, and I bought a ticket for $25.00 U.S. This was a day time trip of just over 500 km that boasted the speedy delivery in 12 hours, including Cambodia/Vietnam border entry.
Most people on board the bus were local, but the bus driver did give some information in English. The seats were comfortable and it was air conditioned. Good thing - It became a little hotter and more humid as we ambled along towards Vietnam. The driver shuffled around passengers as the bus got fuller. He liked to see 'whiteys' sitting together. This paired me up with a nice young fellow from Germany. I'm thinking his name was "dave", but I'm sure there is something not right there!.
The driver knows...Better keep your eyes open on these roads
This is my seat buddy, "Dave."
We rode through miles of countryside, much of it covered in rice fields. Occasional bulls on the road and other buses were our company. We hopped out at rest stops, and I met some travellers from Germany, Australia and Denmark. We chatted and bought snacks along the way. Sure enough, a market stall at one of our stops had unusual offerings.
The market of the future.
The whiteys were intrigued with the large bowls of high protein food of the future (bugs), but the vendor seemed a bit bored with our amazement, though she did allow tastes for those who were curious.
My Mom always said to me "You don't know if you like it unless you try it."
Well, Mom, here goes!
I've been pig-headed, paying for everything with American one dollar bills, rather than local currency, the Dong. The tarantula cost just a half dollar, so I indicated that I'd take the change in fried crickets. I was given a small bag of these very tasty treats, roasted in oil with onions...
hot peppers and dusted with salt
Our lunch stop over, we bundled back onto the bus, and whiled away some hours chatting, snoozing and watching the red earth roll by. After many, many hours we came to the border. Our driver collected all of our passports and visas. He knew it would be quicker and much more casual (!) if he did the talking, after all, he probably does this 4 or 5 times a week. Within half an hour we were on our way, now officially in Vietnam.
Low lying country is often flooded and covered in vegetation or has rice fields in many different stages of growth and harvest.
There were another few stops for leg stretching. We saw changes in the countryside. Rivers, more lush vegetation, finally the Mekong area. We crossed some wide bridges, and saw a combination of slow moving rivers and lush rice patties. It was starting to get dark, and I wondered about getting dropped at some far off bus station. "Dave" appeared to think that the bus depot was close to the downtown, near the area where he would find his hostel. He would walk. My earlier checking showed that I should be close to the hotel booked by my travel agent. Another stop or two then it was quite dark. We rolled up to the bus station...I had a bad map on my phone that showed that I needed to find 79 Tran Hung Dao (Street). With other street names such as Nguyen Du, Pham Ngoc Thac and Benh vien Nhi dong to follow to get there I hesitated as other passenger's bags were pulled out of the bus's belly and flung on the sidewalk. I had only a small backpack, already on my back. A cabby pulled up and insisted that he knew my hotel: "It is far!" I wavered, and asked "How many American dollars" ...SEVEN ! Far too much in this part of the world (Yah, really!) I set out with my map and wandered through very lively streets of sidewalk cafes, night clubs and milling tourists. Those street names all looked the same to me, but exploring was interesting, and I felt safe in the crowds of diners and tourists. I followed the map in what turns out to have been a large circle, and came to my hotel, which, it turns out was only about half a km from the bus terminal! I stepped into Dai Nam Hotel, and found that I was expected. My tour guide would meet me the next morning after breakfast.
This is the itinerary offered by my tour company, through a delightful agent, Lucy.
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