I need more time in Vietnam. I know I say things like that all the time – but I really wish I had more time here now. I’ve had this zip of happiness bubbling in me since I arrived across the border, and each day I’ve been delighted by something new. Maybe I was already primed to love this country between the positive stories I’ve heard from friends and the charming way I entered, by small boat and the Mekong River; or maybe there is still a joie de vivre lingering in the atmosphere from the former French influence. Whatever the reason, Vietnam is high on my “return to” list.
I took a little break from writing to just completely enjoy myself, and now that I’m trying to sort it all out there’s so much to say I’m not sure where to start… since they say the beginning is a good place I guess that’s what I’ll do!
The boat our tour group was led to in Phnom Penh elicited some chuckles when we first saw it – the tiniest little vessel in the harbour would be our home for the day’s journey down the river! Cozy, I guess… With about an hour left to go before our arrival the sky turned dark, the wind raced and sheets of rain dropped from the sky. I never worried about the boat capsizing but I was closely watching the crew as they attempted to navigate nearly blind.
Thankfully, as I’ve become accustomed to in SE Asia, the rain storm didn’t last long and by the time we arrived at the harbour we only endured a light sprinkle as we walked to the hotel through the small city of Chau Doc.
Day two in Vietnam began before the sunrise when we set off to visit the floating markets. Life along the Mekong Delta revolves around the river, and commerce is no exception. Larger boats will arrive stuffed to the gills with produce and anchor offshore until their items have been sold. Small boats come alongside and purchase their selections while even smaller boats putt past selling drinks and breakfast. Like a set of Russian nesting dolls, these Vietnamese boats!
As boats are for Chau Doc, scooters are to Ho Chi Minh City. I feel like I’ve seen a lot of busy cities with chaotic roads during my travels – that contrast to home is part of the fun for me – and Ho Chi Minh doesn’t disappoint! Getting around the city was an adventure all its own, and the perfect chance for me to use RideGuru again. I wanted a do over since I ended up not actually finding a rideshare company to use in Vancouver, (plus I ended up with a super cute little swag bag from them, if I’m being honest). Free wifi is really easy to find in HCM City, and with that it was a quick click to bring up cost estimates using my exact location. I booked two different Uber trips through RideGuru and both times the fare was within a couple dollars of the estimate I was shown on RideGuru
The one downside to the days in Ho Chi Minh was saying goodbye to the rest of the tour group as we all went our own separate ways from here. So to Joe, Gemma and Eric, Maisie, Dawn, and Mia – good luck with the rest of your travels! It was an absolute blast exploring Cambodia and Vietnam with each of you!!
Craving some quality beach time after all the busyness of the tour and cities, Google informed me that Vung Tau is the closest beach town so we set our minds to get there asap. I wanted to double check the best way to get there so I stopped in to ask one of the travel agents near the hotel. She told me not to go there, that the beach was filthy, and then quite adamantly told me the departure times of a shuttle to some other beach further away. Her forcefulness made me suspicious, and assuming that she receives a kickback from that shuttle company I chose to ignore her advice. It was a gamble because Mia and Tricia were coming with me and I didn’t want to disappoint, but thankfully one that paid off. Vung Tau is a town with a great feel to it, we got a room in a beautiful resort for less than the cost of a grungy motel back home, and the beach was fine. Some litter marred it, but no more than I’ve noticed at a lot of other developing nations’ beaches.
On our last day there (sadly after Mia already left) the hotel manager introduced himself to us, along with the head chef and some other staff memebers. We chatted for a while and assured them we loved our stay there and assumed that was the end of the story. Hours later, the most beautiful gift showed up for us from the manager and chef.
Personalized carved watermelon and pumpkin!! These pictures do not do justice to the artistry; each detail was exquisite. Enchanted by our gifts, and especially the sweetly proud way they were offered only to delight us, we promised to stop in if we ever find ourselves near Vietnam again in the future. If you go to Vung Tau, stay in the DIC Star Hotel and Resort!
This South corner of Vietnam that I was lucky enough to visit has me magnetized, already pulling at me to return.