Go to the Holiday in Vietnam 2013 photo album if you want to see the pictures.
Just a short visit (18 days) to Vietnam to take care of some family business and a 4-day bicycle tour through the Mekong Delta.
Sisi was already in Vietnam, learning new treatments for her nailstudio, and since a few weeks staying at a small and simple temple near Bien Hoa.
Arrival in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City
Sisi was too sick to pick me up, so instead Le Hong Tri, Sisi's favourite monk, and bunch of young monks picked me up from the airport and drove me to a small temple near Bien Hoa. I stayed here for 5 days.
One day we went to Vung Tau, where we visited the giant Jesus statue on top of Small Mountain and the Lighthouse a kilometer northwest of the statue. Both places offered nice views over Vung Tau, the beaches and the South China Sea. The afternoon was spent at the beach where a group of little monks from Dong Nai joined us. It was good fun to see them play in the sea. For some of them it was the first ever to sea the see.
It was good to see the Duong family back again, always good food and nice people around.
Hai, Mr. Duong and I visited Paradise Cave, a recently opened cave complex in Phong Nha-Ke Bang national park. A long walk to and up a mountain path brought us to the entrance of Paradise cave where we descended into the cave. It was simply beautiful to walk in this enormous cave and still not all of it was excavated.
After 3 days we flew from Dong Hoi airport back to Ho Chi Minh City where I booked a 4 day bicycle tour through the Mekong Delta at Sinhbalo Adventure Travel. By car we drove further to My Tho, where we stayed in the same hotel as the last time.
We paid a visit to the temple and the monks were happy to see me again.
The hotel was outside the city center and in the afternoons I walked to the city and along the river front. I always took a different way and enjoyed the walk through the little streets. At the riverfront I sat on a bench watching the joggers, swimmers and other locals parading.
The Mekong Delta
On Monday morning I was picked by the van from Sinhbalo. Here I met Phuc, the tourguide, Jan from Germany and Marlies and Chris from Switzerland.
It was a short trip to the boat landing where we took a boat across the river to a small island where we visited a small cocunut factory where sweets and cocunut oil was made.
After lunch we went aboard a small sampan and cruised through small waterways. After this beautiful cruise the boat and van brought us to Cai Lay, where the bicycles were unloaded. This was the starting point of the 4 day bicycle tour.
We followed a local road and visited a small village market. We passed a few more villages and ended finally up in Cai Be where a ferry brought us to the other side of the river. A short bicycle ride later we boarded a small boat that took us to Binh Hoa Phuoc island. After a short ride over small roads we arrived at the guesthouse, beautifully situated on a river bank.
After an early rise, thanks to the local roosters, we rode over small paths through orchards and palmgroves to the ferry that brought us to Vinh Long. We were picked up by the van and after an 2 hour ride the bicycles were unloaded near Lai Vung. From here we passed ricefields, rode through small villages and crossed a lot of rivers. In a village we had a stop at a rice paper factory. A woman showed us how rice paper was made, using a small oven for the baking and the sun for the drying process. In another village colorful reed mats were dyed, woven and placed on the roads to dry. Local people waved at us and were happy to pose for us when we wanted to take a picture of them.
After a delicious lunch at a restaurant that also had a large crocodile farm the van brought us from Long Xuyen to Chau Doc, near the Cambodian border. Here we cycled the 2,5 kilometer very steep road to the top of Sam Mountain, where we enjoyed the hazy views over Chau Doc, the ricefields and Cambodia. People placed offers and prayed in front of the small shrine.
That night we slept well in a luxury hotel.
We left Chau Doc by van for a ride to nearby Tri Ton, where we boarded a boat and visited a floating fishfarm. We continued to Tri Ton, a small Khmer village with its Mubarak mosquee.
After visiting the Khmer village we cruised back to the van that brought us to Chi Lang, near the Cambodian border. We continued by bicycle and pedalled over a dyke with nice views over the countryside. It was harvest time and everywhere people were busy collecting and transporting bags full of rice by boat, truck or motorbike.
We visited Tra Su Cajuput Forest, a natural reserve, by boat and by foot, where we saw lots of birds. A very nice and peaceful area.
After a nice lunch at a local family the van brought us near Can Tho where we had a late afternoon bicycle ride. Due to a flat tyre of Willem-Jan's bike we had to cycle fast through the villages to prevent riding in the dark. During the day it was already dangerous enough to ride on the main roads. At night it was even more dangerous, since the roads were mostly unlit and the same applied for the cars, trucks and other users of the roads. But we arrived, shortly after dark in Can Tho where we waited for Phuc to join us. He had stayed behind to get Willem-Jan's bike fixed. He had also cycled fast and when he arrived we took a boat across the river to another homestay to spent the night. Here we learned how to make flat pancakes and small Vietnamese spring rolls and much to our surprise they also tasted quite good.
After another sleepless night, why do these people keep roosters that don't sleep but crow during the night, we went by boat to the Floating Market of Cang Rai.
This time it was full with boats, carrying all sorts of fruits and vegetables. Pieces of fruit and vegetables were tied to a pole on the boats, indicating what was on sale. It was a very lively spectacle to see all these boats, big and small, carrying lots of pineapples, jackfruits, pumpkins, onions, tomatoes, carrots etc. A small boat, selling tea, coffee and soda, was cruising between the boats, looking for customers.
After an hour we cruised back to the road and mounted our bikes for our final ride over small dykes, through rural villages and rice fields and along canals that make up the beautiful Mekong Delta. After 2 hours and many foto stops we reached the outskirts of Can Tho where the van was already waiting with refreshing little towels and cooled waterbottles.
After a last lunch at a riverside restaurant in Can Tho we drove back to My Tho. I was dropped off at my hotel where I said goodbye to Jan, Marlies, Chris, Phuc and the driver, thanking them all for a wonderful bicycle trip.
Two days later Sisi and Le Hong Tri brought me back to Ho Chi Minh City where I caught the plane back to Holland.
On the map you can see all the places I have visited.