Day 49 / Day 8 of ATID – border crossing and journey to Cần Thơ
So this was the day we crossed over the border into Vietnam, again by private bus to the border itself and then on foot, before getting on another private bus on the other side. The border crossing was from Bavĕt to Mộc Bái and was similar to the last, only this time we had all got our visas in advance. It did involve a fair bit of walking in the sun and lots of checking over of things by far more staff than I think were truly needed, and we did each pay up one dollar to speed up the process (ahem), but there weren’t any issues per se.
On the other side of the border, the sun vanished and the heavens opened and yes the Brits in the group (myself included) were the first to leave the building where we were waiting for our passports (being checked over by border officials) to go stand in the rain to cool off. That was quite fun.
Once we’d crossed, we headed to the city of Cần Thơ. This was where we spent one night in a village homestay and all I can say is, it was far more luxurious than I was expecting! The couples all got private rooms for one thing, each room had a fan, the whole place had electricity, and yes the facilities were communal but the toilets were Western and everything was very clean. Add to this the fact that the hosting family cooked us one of the most amazing meals we’ve ever had, including some amazing pork-filled rice pancakes that tasted a lot like dosa, and you’ve got a pretty awesome evening.
We played card games for a bit after dinner, which was really nice as it afforded a way to get to know each other that didn’t involve loud music thumping in the background (the latter is nice and all but it is good to have an occasional quiet evening as well!).
Day 50 / Day 9 of ATID – Cần Thơ and Ho Chi Minh City
This, looking back, was a really busy day. We got up really early and were taken for a walk around the village by one of the family members from the night before, quite a funny (as in, intentionally ha-ha funny) lady, before taking our private bus to the shore of a branch of the Mekong River.
Here we jumped on a boat with said family member to take a little trip to see an amazing local floating market. The boats sold everything from fresh fruit and veg to, I kid you not, cups of iced coffee – Dave bought one, and you can see it being prepared on the boat in the photo!
It was a really fun experience – I had never seen anything like it, at least not in real life, prior and was fascinated! One cool thing we learnt is that the boats hang an example of their wares off a hook at the front, e.g. a bunch of fruit, so that shoppers can instantly see which boats sell what.
Partway through the boat trip we disembarked at a local noodle making factory for a little demonstration. This was a pretty cool little detour, though if you were to ask me now, I’ll be honest, I cannot remember all the steps or exactly what type of noodles we were seeing being made! We did get to sample some after, though, and I remember them being quite crunchy.
When we got back on the boat to return to the shore where our bus was waiting, our guide from the village family decided to engage us in a singing game of sorts. Apart from trying very hard to not ‘be picked’ to sing (we were successful!), we noted that she herself had a remarkable repertoire of Western songs, especially rap/hip-hop ones, that she knew all the words to! Very entertaining on the whole.
Once we arrived in Ho Chi Minh City (I think I slept most of the way there after our early start), it was all systems go to get as much sightseeing packed into our afternoon as possible as we knew we had a limited amount of time. Most of us decided to head to the War Remnants museum.
This was about a twenty minute walk from our hotel, and we really felt the heat! Though by now we were starting to get used to sweating on stepping outside…Dave and I plus a couple of other girls grabbed some sandwiches from a 7/11 on the way, rather than sit in a café first with most of the others, as Dave is history mad and we wanted to maximise our time at the museum.
So, the War Remnants museum. It is definitely worth a visit if you are in Ho Chi Minh City, in fact I’d say even if you only have a half day, to visit. The entry fee is nominal and the museum itself covers, as you may have guessed, the Vietnam war. This includes actual objects, weapons and vehicles as well as a vast array of often rather harrowing photographs. The only thing I would say about the museum is to make sure to remember that Vietnam is a Communist country and of course will have a very specific stance on the Vietnam war. Whilst it is true that Vietnam did indeed suffer greatly, I’d advise that if you don’t know anything about the war, read up on it before or after visiting the museum so that you attain a balanced perspective. I’ve just asked history-mad Dave and he agrees!
In the evening the group headed to a nice restaurant set in a beautiful French colonial building. I had a curry again (yup), and it was served with a BAGUETTE – oh yes, the French influence is palpable to this day!
After dinner, we headed for drinks at the Crazy Buffalo bar. I would say that by now I’d realised the tour was moving rather fast for me, and Dave and I didn’t head out after, but headed back to the hotel to sleep.
Oh and, this particular g adventures tour is made up of three different tours, meaning that two travellers left us (as the first tour was ending) and two joined (joining the second tour). Dave managed to eat one of the new traveller’s meals at dinner by accident, thinking it was what he had ordered when it arrived at the table (in all fairness, it is easy to mix up the various noodle dishes if unfamiliar with Vietnamese cuisine), but she took it very well and ate his in exchange without complaint, so kudos to her for that.
An exhausting, jam-packed but still rather awesome introduction to Vietnam!
As this is getting quite long, I’ll talk about the rest of our time in Ho Chi Minh City in the next post, as well as our stay in Nha Trang 🙂 It shouldn’t get too long as other than relaxing on the beach we did little in Nha Trang – needed a rest!
Thanks for stopping by!