Phnom Penh to Chau Doc

The day started with a rattly bus ride for an hour and a half, tourists and luggage crammed into the mini-bus. We arrived at a small flimsy dock and boarded our boat. Off we went down the broad Mekong, headed for Chau Doc, Vietnam.

boat trip down the Mekong River
The Wide Mekong River

Our captain is not snoozing at the wheel (above); he’s checking his mobile. On the broad Mekong he was pretty relaxed, frequently steering with his feet. As we cruised along many of the passengers slept while others consumed beer. I photographed, Sue watched the passing scenery and we smiled along with the captain.

boatload, Mekong River, Cambodia
Happy Captain

On this part of the trip the villages were on the far river banks.

village on the Mekong River, Cambodia
Passing Village

After a couple of hours we came to the Cambodian Customs station where we disembarked and were checked out of Cambodia.

Cambodian Customs, Mekong River
Cambodia Customs

Then we traveled a short distance to the Vietnam Customs where we were checked in, had a coffee in the cafe and then boarded another, smaller, shallow draft boat for the rest of our journey.

Vietnam Customs, Mekong River
Vietnam Customs

We left the main Mekong River and entered a small canal, with very low water.

canal off the Mekong River, Vietnam
Entering the Canal

We passed many small bridges spanning the canal, a variety of boats and homes and water buffalo, cooling off in the water.

water buffalo, Vietnam
Water Buffalo
home on canal, Vietnam
Home on the Canal

We left the small canal and entered a larger, straight-as-an-arrow, canal. We saw many opening to other canals as we traveled. We were now in a vast waterway of interconnected rivers and canals. The Mekong splits into two branches at Phnom Penh: the Hau Giang (Lower River, also known as the Bassac) and the Tien Giang (Upper River). The Tien Giang splits several more times and finally empties into the China Sea at five different points. Many canals and other rivers also flow through the Mekong Delta, creating a network used by a variety of water craft.

boat on canal, Vietnam
Passing Another Boat

Besides the numerous little bridges crossing the canal we also saw a cable car being used.

cable car, Vietnam
Cable Car

We once again entered the wider Mekong, this time on the Bassac River. We passed many boats, both plying the waters and along the banks.

heavily laden boat, Bassac River, Vietnam
Heavily Laden Boat
boat out of the water, Bassac River, Vietnam
Boat Out-of-the-Water
loading a boat, Bassac River, Vietnam
Loading a Boat

In the photo above note the people using large baskets to load the boat, which has cantilevered mats, sticking up past the gunwhales, to hold the cargo (looks like rice) in place.

We passed numerous float homes as we neared Chau Doc. Just before sunset we arrived and disembarked on the muddy riverbank. All our luggage was heaped onto a cyclo (amazing!) and we walked, following the boat’s conductor, into the town centre. Sue and I had booked a room at the Trung Nguyen Hotel and were given a great room with a view down onto the town’s market.

view of Chau Doc market
View from Hotel Room

Right away we were struck by how quiet the town was; none of the ‘beep, beep, honk, honk’ of Hanoi. We set off on an evening walk and to find some dinner. We walked through the market and to the river.

waterfront, Chau Doc, Vietnam
The Waterfront

We walked down the waterfront road and then turned inland down a narrow little lane where we were greeted by all the children we passed. Eventually a few asked that we take a photo of them. The young man on the right with the school uniform spoke a bit of English and translated for us.

children, Chau Doc, Vietnam
Local Kids

We had a seafood hot pot for dinner and returned to our room. We were back in Vietnam and it was quieter than we remembered.

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