We caught a bus from Chau Doc to Vinh Long. Possibly our worst bus ride as we were in the back of the bus, feeling the effects of the motion. Plus it was hot and the music was terrible. We passed many canals, caught a ferry across one of the rivers and finally arrived at a station outside Vinh Long. From there we took motorcycles into the town. Possibly our worst motorcycle rides: high speed with all our luggage. By the time we arrived on the river bank in Vinh Long we were tired and hungry. And it was only noon.
Our objective was to cross the river to An Binh Island and spend a night in a homestay. Outside the tourist office we met a young man named Nam who had both a boat and a homestay. After lunch we boated across the river, parked the boat on the river bank and followed Nam through the grasses to a path to his home. We were shown our room, given a card with his number on it in case we became lost on the island and then we set off on bikes to explore.
We rode down a quiet lane, past waterways, small homes and businesses. We emerged onto small roadway and followed it to where a ferry carried passengers and bikes to the other side. We turned back and continued exploring the small roads, stopping for refreshments or photo ops.
At one crossroads by a bridge we watched men load a cow onto a boat and then head off down a canal, the cow’s head tethered low to keep her steady in the tiny craft.
That evening we were served Elephant fish for dinner; so much food we couldn’t finish it all. We then crawled beneath our mosquito net and slept in the totally quiet community, not a car or bike or horn to be heard.
We awoke early as we were to take a boat tour through the canals and across to Mekong to Cai Be, where we could catch a bus to our next destination, Ben Tre. Once again we were served a fine meal in the simple setting of the homestay. We then sat and played a while with Nam’s son, Tien, who was fascinated by the Indiglo of my watch.
As Nam had another tour that day his uncle took us in his boat and from there we transferred to another boat for our tour through the waterways of An Binh Island. Many of the canals were very narrow.
And we frequently passed other boats, which necessitated some careful maneuvering by the each party. Note the blocks of ice on the boat below.
After the extensive tour through the canals we crossed the river and headed into Cai Be, where a large floating market attracts many boats.
We stopped and had a tour of neighbouring coconut candy, rice paper and rice popping operations.
Then we were taken to a dock where we disembarked, walked up the street and caught the local bus to My Tho. This was one of our better bus rides: slow, scenic and very friendly. No motion sickness, no pounding disco music. Just folks hopping on and off.
We did miss our stop though and after an animated discussion amongst several people on the sidewalk we caught two cyclos back to the bus station where we boarded another local bus to Ben Tre. The cyclo drivers had their work cut out for them with us and all our luggage.
We arrived in Ben Tre and checked into our relatively luxurious (especially after our homestay) hotel. Out our large window we could watch the Ben Tre River flow by with its collection of boat traffic.