From the beach to the city
28.10.2011 - 14.11.2011 29 °C
On one of our last days in Sihanoukville we went on a snorkeling trip, which included visits to two different coral reefs and three different islands as well as a stop for a fresh Baraquada BBQ on one of the islands. Luckily enough, two of our six fellow passengers were working full time as scuba instructors in California so we were given a more professional tour than was first intended.
Two days later we left Sihanoukville with a minibus headed for Can Tho, the capital of the south Vietnamese Mekong region. We had to switch minibus once and the driver of the second bus was driving at Schumacher speed but unfortunately without any of the skills. He even overtook an ambulance which had its lights flashing and sirens on (whereby Pia wanted to send him off in an ambulance of his own.) Luckily enough for the driver, Pia was in the back of the 16 seater minibus which meant that there were 25 people between him and her, including a guy sitting on the drivers seat behind the driver.
Somehow we all managed to survive the trip and stepped out in Can Tho 12 and a half hours later. Almost nobody in Can Tho spoke English but as we knew that we were going to arrive late we had already booked and paid our hotel over the internet and thereby avoided the hassle of having to do it through sign language. Instead, we took a taxi from the bus station (well spent 50 cents) and were checked in within half an hour.
Can Tho itself is a wonderful city built around the arms of the Mekong river and during our visit there we hired a small boat with driver to take us through the floating markets on the river. The trip was wonderful and on a small boat like ours that is able to pass through everywhere you get a really good insight of the everyday life of people living on and beside the river. It also gave us an opportunity to visit a rice-paper factory that was located on the outskirts of the city. The following day we found a combined pizzeria and spa (pizza is one of the most expensive items on the menu here and costs three times as much as a good 200g steak) and got ourselves two "Swedish massages" with Sauna
Two days later we took a coach (after swearing never to set our feet in a Vietnamese minibus again) to Saigon, nowadays known as Ho Chi Minh City. Here we found a guesthouse which at first looked quite worn down, located in a really small alley of the main street but turned out to be run by a lovely Vietnamese grandmother. Although a bit racist (for example she told us never to trust the Thais and that she never lets black people stay in her house) she takes great care of her house and speaks ok English (which is very rare as the Vietnamese are much worse than the Khmers and the Thais but apparently she had worked as an English teacher at one point) and fluent French as she was raised in a French school in French Indochina. Fortunately it started raining massively soon so that my "Il pleut!" came to good use. However, it didn't stop raining as quickly and after a couple of hours the streets were flooded (only about two dm so it wasn't really a problem but a lot of the mopeds died and had to be led which made the traffic much more calm). We took some pictures when the streets were still drivable but much more unpleasant as each moped is turned into a fountain.
We are staying two more days here in Saigon and then we're buying an "open" bus ticket (one that you can get off at any of the stops on the way and then catch the next bus without having to buy a new ticket as long as the whole trip takes less than a month) on the route to Hanoi and our first planned stop is Mui Ne.