The meeting with Ho Chi Minh City started with a slight confusion. On the one hand there was a suffocating heat, although we landed around 18:00 and, on the other hand, the driver who was supposed to arrange our transfer from the airport to the hotel, delayed inexplicably. And it was an hour late, when I called the hotel three times and got assured that he was on our way to us but was trapped in traffic. In the end, he showed a broad and slightly ironic smile that betrayed the fact that at that time he was supposed to be somewhere else and solve his personal problems. The road to the city was interesting, in Ho Chi Minh I think there are more scooters than the inhabitants 🙂
We deduced that we had arrived at the Himalaya Phoenix Saigon Hostel where we booked when he turned to a very narrow street, stopped the car, took our luggage and showed us the direction of the hotel, saying it was in that area. We did not have big luggages, took our backpacks on the back and left, reading all the names of the hotels we passed by, until we got to the end of the street. Ours, nowhere. We went back to the place where the driver had left us, but he had already left, however he was very hurried. With the GPS in hand, we realized we were a few blocks away from the Himalayas Phoenix Saigon. After about 500 meters, melted by the heat and three packets of napkins, we saw the hotel’s logo. It was only after two glasses of cold water that we became functional again and we told the receptionist the purpose we were in front of him for. It was so quiet and cheerful that I realized on the spot that if I would have tried to reproach the poor organization of our transfer I would fail because nothing would have taken him out of his state. Surprisingly, he made us feel better us and even convinced us to take a Mekong Delta tour for $ 12 per person. We had that planned from home, we wanted to look for more offers, choose the best, but now we were there and the plans have changed 🙂
It was the first hotel that made us leave our shoes at the reception and walk barefoot all over the place. A few minutes later we were in the agitation of the city, slaloming through stalls, scooters, tables and chairs that occupied entire sidewalks.
The impression I had when I walked through the streets was that everyone was out, relaxed at a beer or eating directly on the street, and that everyone was selling something. While women cleaned fruit and made juices that made you lick your fingers only by seeing them, the men stood on the scooters, some giving the impression of sleeping, others socializing with a beer in hand, but all were extremely relaxed. We adapted very easily, we quickly entered the Vietnamese atmosphere and we were glad we were there.
We arrived in the night market that was full of tourists. This was the moment when we knew that on the next flight we would have our first baggage 🙂 But I had to resist the impulse to buy heavy stuff until we bought a trolley. So we stood at a terrace where only seafood was served, and beceause I am not a big fan of them, I took a chicken rice and Dan ordered oysters.
It was twelve o’clock at night when we were still in the city and some terraces that earlier were the parking space for dozens of scooters had now turned into an outdoor restaurant.
The decor was totally different that even though we were close to the hotel, we no longer recognized the area. Everywhere there were scooters with three or four people on one, and the city was getting more crowded. But for the evening we had to end with a deep sleep, because the next day we were going in a Mekong Delta tour.
I woke up in the morning very well, it was my birthday and it was supposed to be a special one 🙂 At 8 o’clock we were picked up from the hotel and transferred to a kind of minibus with lots of seats but full of tourists. We sat next to the driver in improvised chairs in conditions where you could hardly imagine that you could stand for 2 hours in the Delta. I was near the window, I had more room, but Dan, who was near the driver’s seat, could easily change gears with his knee 🙂 We were just talking to each other that it would be better to give up and go back to the hotel to ask them an account, when the minibus stopped in full avenue. We looked at each other, scared of the thought that other tourists would climb, but we heard our names called and… we woke up outside with the luggage in the middle of the street. A young man immediately came and said that we were going to go with another mean of transport. In ten seconds, I passed from agony to ecstasy and vice versa. Our new car was a bus where we entered in a hurry, glad that we found two comfortable seats and we went to the road. Easy, easy around us was a bus full of children and their parents, and the first impulse was that we would be back home with acute headaches, but that thought took only a few moments.
The first stop was at the Mekong Rest Stop Restaurant, a very nice place where we spent about an hour. From a souvenir shop we bought the sun hats, then we walked through some gardens of exotic beauty.
We then arrived at Vinh Trang Temple, the most beautiful pagoda in Tian Giang Province, where we saw a huge white statue of the Buddha who laughed happily 🙂
It is a mixture of architectural styles: Chinese, Vietnamese and Angkor (Cambodian). We did not have enough time to see the building on the inside, but we enjoyed the beauty of the almost unreal flowers and the trees in different shapes.
It was very warm but we still had time to see Quang Duc Pagoda, a very beautiful Buddhist temple located on the main street of Can Tho and attracting many tourists every day.
We continued our journey in Mekong Delta and arrived at a pier where we crossed Mekong and reached an avenue where the guide presented us with the process of collecting honey.
The children in the group who accompanied us were very excited and when we sat at the table to serve the culinary delights of the place, we woke up surrounded by children who wanted to speak in English.
We quickly became friends with them, stood there talking, laughed a lot with them and their parents. In short time, we realized how fortunate we were to know these children. They were so beautiful, cheerful, holding our hand and as one ended to speak, another began, eager to practice English.
Absorbed by the children, with 2-3 of them holding our hands, we crossed an orchard of eco-friendly fruit to a small, stylish family restaurant.
Here we relaxed for an hour, enjoying all sorts of fruits and watching a small live show offered by the owners. This is where we met Jay, a jovial and very enjoyable young man from South Korea, with whom we became friends and exchanged email addresses.
The guide then led us to the end of the orchard where horse-drawn harnesses awaited us. We did not know all these details, I did not even thread well all about our tour to the Mekong Delta.
We got into the carriages and, after a short journey, we reached a wharf, where we were to go to the Delta channels.
Waiting for our turn to get in the boat, the strong sun pushed us to a tonete where the coconut ice-cream was sold. I did not managed to get the money to pay that the mother of a child in the group came and insisted on paying her. A gesture that I appreciated with all my heart, especially since it came from a local, and beautiful gestures did not stop here 🙂
In a few steps we have reached the place where the famous boats leave for walks with the tourists on the canals. The image that opened in front of us reminded me of the documentaries I had seen on TV and I read here. I was in another world and I was living a beautiful dream.
We also climbed into a boat and left ourselves driven on the canal, on Vietnamese rhythms, led by a routined local who did everything she could for us to be happy. The walk was intense. At the other end of the channel, we met with the group and then went to the coconut candies factory… wonderful 🙂
The guide told us about the whole process of getting the candy, from collecting the coconut to their packaging.
During the presentation, you could taste or see in real time the machinery and the manufacturing process, but we were so hot and thirsty that we rushed to the beer fridge and took a sweet break.
I bought some boxes for home and I watched the girls who even packed in front of us the wonders of the coconuts.
We got back into the boat again and got to a restaurant where we had lunch included in the price of the trip. I oscillated between ordering a snake or crocodile ( joking 🙂 and I ate rice 🙂
We continued walking to the crocodile farm. They were almost asleep that I thought they were molds. There were a few tens, bigger or smaller, and I saw them moving only when the tourists were luring them with pieces of meat caught in some kind of ropes, which they approached and then raised them upward until a faster crocodile caught the flesh and swallowed it in a second.
Very close to the crocodile farm there was a large space full of hammocks where you could stay relaxed and rest, so for a few minutes we contemplated the Vietnamese sky in a hammock, surrounded by hens, cocks and cheerful people 🙂
We took some pictures, then left behind the Mekong Delta and returned to Ho Chi Minh. We have hardly said goodbye to the children in our group who made our day so beautiful and we went to the hotel.
We only had time to take a shower, then we went back to the city we liked so much. We were delighted to meet Jay, our South Korean friend, and spent the evening with him at a downtown terrace. We were fascinated by his stories about South Korea and ended by promising each other that we would visit.
So another beautiful day ended in Vietnam and we went to sleep, without knowing what unexpected surprise the next day will reserve for us.
Until next time, be well!