Monday, February 3, 2014

Into the Mekong Delta- Can Tho

I decided to head to Can Tho from Ho Chi Minh to explore the Mekong delta and just before leaving, met a Korean girl, Mijung, at the hostel. After chatting for a while, she said she might come there too, the next day and then onward to visit a local family known to her brother. Tet or the Vietnamese new year (the biggest festival in Vietnam) was going to start in a couple of days and prospect of spending the festival with a local family was too tempting. So even without knowing her, I asked if I could join her to stay with the local family and she said she would check with the hosts! And so I left Ho Chi Minh city, not keeping too much of hope from a total stranger.
Can Tho is around 4 hours from the city and the journey cost ranges between VND 80,000 to VND 140,000. I chose the cheapest one. Private buses in Vietnam do not leave till the time they are jam-packed and we had to wait for an hour before breathing became impossible, a sign, that the bus was going to leave soon.
As we left the old capital behind and headed southwards to Mekong Delta, the feel of country-side was very apparent. Rice fields increased in numbers and sizes and soon, they were stretching till the horizon. More south and a few branches of Mekong’s muddy waters were visible, with coconut trees on the sides. Once again, being a lone foreigner on the bus, I attracted a lot of attention and a lot of free food offered by the Vietnamese.
Mien Tay Bus station

Taking a break

As I reached Can Tho, the feel of country-side was lost once again and I was in middle of a fully developed city with cement roads, cafes, restaurants and super markets.
The next morning, a 2 KM walk from my hotel took me to the river-side and immediately I was approached by tour agents or boat owners offering a ride to famous floating markets around Can Tho. A walk by the river-side is very pleasant with cool breeze thrown by Mekong in the hot air of the city. A few boats ride the water on their day to day businesses. A sole standing statue of Ho Chi Minh overlooks the incoming traffic in the narrow street by the river, a famous spot for couples to take pictures. Other side of the street is dotted with restaurants, cafes and hotels. It is a culture of the country to sit in the cafe, facing outward towards the street, stretching your legs and sipping a cold coffee or a Bia.
Heading even further down the river-side, the cafes and restaurants were replaced by the vegetable and fish vendors, a famous market in Can Tho. It was crowded in the morning with most of the locals coming in to buy fresh vegetables, Sea Food or meat. The smell was a mix of greens and meat and the variety available was commendable, from regular vegetables and Sea Food to more exotic-looking fruits, Snails and Frogs.

The Mekong Delta

Uncle Ho's statue overlooking the busy street

Roots and vegetables at the market

Dried Sea Food

Fresh Vegetables

Market Center

Market Center


Exotic Fruits

Locals enjoying a game of Chinese Chess

The Korean girl turned up at the hotel in the afternoon and once again, I had a travel companion. We had a quick bite of Bun Thit Xao (meat, sprouts and vegetables with soy sauce and some red chillies - Very delicious) before heading out to the market again.
Bun Thit Xao

Famous black coffee with ice and sugar
In the evening, the market had a different feel. The whole town turned up there. The environment was festive and yellow flowers everywhere on display, the main symbol of Tet holiday in South Vietnam. As the night fell, street food came into life. We headed into the alley having many street food hawkers lining up . there small carts and steam rolling up in the air from each of them. There were barbecue items, steaming corn, Pho, Steaming pots of rice, Vietnamese burgers, sugar cane juice and many more. The smell was a mix but acted as an appetizer. We went to each of the cart to check the item and found that almost all were too tempting, before settling down to a particular BBQ vendor selling chicken and pork. The prices at each carts ranged between VND 5,000 to VND 20,000 and a bellyful of items would cost you around VND 40,000.

Decorations for Tet

Flower Mai- Tet Symbol

Food Lane


Boiled eggs and corn

As we headed back towards the hotel, we stopped on a bridge, enjoying a light breeze on our faces and a beautiful view of building lights on the river side.

Almost Vegas-like

River-side restaurant

No comments:

Post a Comment