Vietnam series: Mekong Delta, Vietnam exploring the tributaries and canals around My Tho, Ben Tre and Can Tho

This lady navigates our boat along the canal

This lady navigates our boat along the canal

Today I leave Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) on a two day tour exploring the tributaries and canals of the Mekong Delta region in southwest Vietnam.

The definition of “Delta” is “alluvial tract where river at mouth breaks into several streams”, referencing the 9 tributaries of the Mekong River.

The Mekong Delta is a mostly agricultural area of Vietnam, including the popular rice harvesting.  The Mekong Delta, referred to locally as the “rice basket” or “rice bowl” of Vietnam, produces about half of Vietnam’s total output of rice.

The itinerary for my two day tour of the area includes:
 Day 1 – My Tho – Ben Tre – Can Tho
 Day 2 – Can Tho – Sai Gon

Day 1 begins with a group of like-minded travellers (obviously also wishing to travel deep into the watery world of the Mekong Delta) boarding a bus at 7:50am.  Our 1.5 hour bus trip delivers us to My Tho and our first glimpse of the wide stretch of water that is the Tien Giang tributary, straddled by the Rach Mieu Bridge which is a cable-stayed bridge connecting Tien Giang Province (My Tho) with Ben Tre Province.

Our first access to the Tien Giang is a crossing to the other side by motorboat (not the bridge). This is a mostly commercial tributary and I am amazed this barge doesn’t lose its load.

Rach Mieu Bridge and barge

Rach Mieu Bridge and barge

Crossing the river to Ben Tre we are now treated to a further variety of boat trips, taking us along the narrow canals to some of the cottage industries on shore.

Boating along a canal

Boating along a canal

Some cottage industries including peanut coconut making and honey farms (where there was a real buzz amongst the group).

 

Cottage industry workers

Cottage industry workers

Oh beehave

I get the feeling we are not the only people cruising the canals.

Traffic jam

Traffic jam

At a lunch stop we are offered a whole cooked fish and an example fish is paraded on a plate.  Talk about taking one for the team. 

Scary looking fish

Scary looking fish

I can’t bring myself to order the whole fish which is freaking me out the way it is staring at me… I look away in defeat and decide to order the non-judgemental noodle dish.

Along the way, we are given a real glimpse into life by the river.

River life

River life

With a final boat ride taking us back across the Tien Giang to My Tho, we then board our bus for our final (I hope) 2 hour drive further south to Can Tho where we will stay the night. 

River Scene

River Scene

Before reaching Can Tho, we need to take a car/passenger ferry across the Hau Giang tributary near Binh Minh.

Ferry

Ferry

What a day.  We have travelled today on every form of boat including motorboat, rowboat and ferry.  It feels like we have travelled up and down every tributary and canal in the Mekong Delta; not to mention the bus trips.  No wonder I am shattered by the time we reach our hotel.

I am checked into our mystery hotel and directed to my room on the first floor.  I become increasingly unsure about the room I have been allocated.  My room has a louvre window that runs the length of one wall which is the wall backing onto the main corridor of the mystery hotel.  This can’t be good.

On entering I spot the relatively basic bed and its relatively thin sliver of a mattress.

Basic bed in my white room

Basic bed in my white room

Lastly I notice the corridor’s fluorescent light flooding into my white room through the louvre windows.

With a big sigh I grab a shower and head downstairs to find food. 

On returning to my room, in my tired haze, I am disappointed that magically nothing has changed.  The louvre window is still there, the fluorescent light is still brightly casting its light directly into my room and the economically sized mattress hasn’t gotten any fatter.

I nestle onto my mattress sliver to begin my best impression of a night’s sleep…. until at least 5:30am when I need to be ready for our second day on the Mekong Delta. [showmyads]

For previous Vietnam post see Ho Chi Minh City for a pedicure/manicure/massage and the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre
For next Vietnam post see Mekong Delta, Vietnam and the floating markets of Can Tho