I am sitting in the front seat of a “Car” with Toan, my driver working our way out of Saigon on my first full day in Vietnam after a frenzied morning of hitting the top sites and experience Saigon.
The Delta Mission, Agenda, Plan or maybe best said the as the Wish:
- Drive from Saigon to My Tho (3 hour drive down highway 1) My Tho is considered the gat way to the Mekong Delta
- Hire a boat to get my first exposure to the rivers and islands from so many movie
- Back in the car drive from My Tho to Can Tho City (4 hours much deeper into the delta and hopefully away from the tourist in search of a more real Vietnam)
- Find a hotel in Can Tho
- Next day – Hire a boat to take me up the Megong Rive to Cai Rang and Phong Dien to see the floating markets and the river
- Drive from Can Tho to Cu Chi (5 hours)
- Tour the tunnels at Cu Chi before driving back to Saigon and securing an overnight train ticket
Just wish I the driver could read this… point at a map works too, correct?
Sadly my first impressions of the Mekong Delta region was that I missed it by about 10 or 15 years! Even though I was not on a tour, I felt like I was following the path of every other visitor to region and it was all staged. I did have a little luck on my side. First by going in the afternoon I missed all the crowds of actual tours (typical they come from the city first thing in the AM, as I had originally planned and the books suggest). Second the just finished a new connection road 6 months ago that cut off an hour of the trip and last it was high tide, the best time to be on the water.
Finding a hotel in Can Tho, the largest city in the Mekong Delta and an old US base of operation was not as simple as I thought it would be. Long story short, I checked into an $18 a night hotel. Asked the woman at the front desk for help in hire a boat to satisfy the agenda above via a little more map pointing. She made a few calls and finally said ”$30 dollars 5:30 tomorrow morning”. God only know what I am in for. Finally at around 9 or 10 my driver and I headed out to find dinner (grilled squid, octopus, and shrimp including the head, skin and tail – all simply great at $11 for the two of us) and what turned into a few to many Tiger Beer’s at .50 cents each they went down to easy! Did I forget to say I needed my iPod to see the lock to my room, the hallway light were turned out for the night.