who knew they had expressways and cities in the Delta?
(My great Swedish friends - Anitha Helgessen and Kaj Ekberg)
Read their blog too (http://koa4245.blogg.se/) - it's in Swedish!
We spent most of yesterday on the maze of rivers between HCMC and Can Tho aboard the Thanh Nhan Jet Express.The pilot had a heavy foot and that boat could travel, but broke down (overheated I suspect) quite a few times, and we finally pulled over to a tiny dock and boarded a Mercedes minibus for the final run to Can Tho. Who knew that the Mekong had between 8 and 10 million people? I was floored when we started down what appeared to be an expressway complete with toll booths. My companions for the day (Kaj Ekberg and Anitha Helgessen of Munka Ljungby, Sweden and their guide, Matt) and I had a great time though, and we all stopped for a late lunch once on the road. Matt even tried to pay for my beer and lunch even though I was not his client!
Can Tho finally appeared (not as the sleepy Delta town the guidebooks tell ya, but more of a Delta city of some size). My 3 friends checked into an upscale hotel, but I insisted in looking for something more flashpacker style (i.e., cheaper), and after some hunting found the quite respectable Thai Duong 2 @ 150,000 VND (approx $9.) My mistake here was to try and negotiate Can Tho (no small settlement) without a proper map (guidebook maps are almost useless!) Tried the Can Tho version of Italian pizza last night - not bad, but far far from the real thing. Also checked out my first VN supermarket - large, but heavy on the dried and packaged foods (no wonder open air markets are the real markets in this country).
(This is the lovely Huyen and the unlovely me on the Floating Market Tour)
(The floating market, Mekong Delta)
Can Tho has some pretty good places to eat, and today I had super Pho ("fur") noodle soup and later a set menu 4 course lunch (best so far at 100,000 VND) at Nam Bo on the riverfront. I booked a boat tour of the floating markets for Thurs and then on Fri I'll be back on the Express boat bound for Saigon once again. I was wrong not to book a tour of the Delta from Saigon, but I had heard that it was quite easy to get once in Can Tho (maybe so, but I probably just never found the right agent?)
I'm trying all the foods and drinks that look good. A few minutes ago I tried fresh pressed sugar cane juice (comes iced with lime) and is not as sweet as I had thought - quite good. This is the place for fresh fish, but just haven't found anything that looked good. You see people at street bars eating small cooked clams or cockles? with their beer.
People in the Delta appear somewhat kinder and more patient than the Saigonese, and it's certainly far less stressful crossing the street here. Last night, a guard just walked over and helped me cross a street (I had heard that they think kindly of the old folks in VN). Far fewer English speaker here, as I've found out asking directions before I purchased a decent map. Weather is near perfect here today - even a slight breeze. Where are the mosquitos? Snake meat on the menu this am, and not exactly sure what my buffet lunch meat was yesterday???