Boating and cycling in the Mekong delta
Ben Tre Travel Blog› entry 5 of 15 › view all entries
Itâ€™s 6.30 am and the crickets are still shouting their heads off, now and then interrupted by a rooster here and there.
At eight our boats are ready. We would like to share a boat with our friend Caroline, but since these boats only seat three people and thereâ€™s a guide in every boat, thatâ€™s not going to happen. Weâ€™ll be going into the smaller canals that lead deeper into the island. Since our boats are propelled by man- or actually womanpower, the sound of roaring and chuffing engines dies slowly as we move away from the main waterways. The women have a special rowing technique, they stand on the stern of the boat, pushing the paddles forward, so they can see where they are going.
On the floating market the shops are boats, and to show what they are selling they simply tie some of their goods in the highest mast of the ship.
We disembark on the same spot we went on board yesterday, but now there are more people present, and some of them are playing some Chinese chess game that I donâ€™t understand.
When we walk to the bus, thereâ€™s a wedding in progress and the bride and groom will gladly pose for us, after we have wished them all the best of course.
It takes an hour to drive to the ferry that will bring us to the other side of another branch of the Mekong river.
From the ferry we walk to the restaurant were we are going to have lunch, Michel doesnâ€™t know the restaurant, but the local guide that is accompanying us today says they have good food.
In the restaurant, located beautifully near the bank of the river, we order a dish with beef. Yet thereâ€™s so much fat on the meat that it almost has to be pork. Trudy canâ€™t get it down and orders some crab soup. I take over Trudyâ€™s meat dish and for desert we order some spring rolls. It wasnâ€™t the best meal weâ€™ve had here in Vietnam, but then again, a man with a full stomach canâ€™t complain, can he? We walk up to the riverbank, where we savour the view from under a pavilion, protected from the sun.
Just before two pm we start the final stage of our trip today, an 18 kilometre bicycle tour.
Itâ€™s almost four when we reach Benh Tre, where we will spend the night. No homestay, but the Dong Khoi Hotel. This is an old communist government hotel, which is clear as daylight, looking at the large square Russian-concrete-block building style. Here too, a wedding is taking place, thereâ€™s lots of people, with even more unfathomable loud music.
We have room number 105 and when we walk in to put our bags there, the air conditioning is roaring to bring the roomâ€™s temperature down to 18 degrees Celsius. Which is slightly overdone, that would bring the difference to the outside temperature to more than 20 degrees!! When we wash our hands in the bathroom, the water goes down the drain, which is not connected to the sewer, instead the water runs down the bathroom wall, then over the floor to the other side of the bathroom, where it enters the sewage system. The same goes for the bathtub, a hole has been chopped in the side of the tub, to allow the water to run over the floor to the drain.
We decide to go for a walk in the village, but there is not much to see, really.
We eat in the restaurant of our hotel and we order soup, a beef dish and some orange juice. It takes ages before the food arrives and when it does, we get everything at once. During dinner a singer entertains the wedding guests, that is, he does his best. Unfortunately the man constantly picks the wrong key and stands with his microphone in front of the speakers, creating a cacophony of bad singing and feedback noises.
After dinner we go for another short walk, in the other direction this time, and here too is not much to see.
In my opinion Ben Tre is a town you do not necessarily need to see on your trip to Vietnam.