Friday, September 9, 2011

The river called Mekong

Day 8

I'm down to the last day of my first solo backpacking in Vietnam and Cambodia.

(Lost? Get back on track: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7)

Pretty tired and pretty broke. Haha. I think you can consider this an achievement that I still have enough money for today, after all I had few unnecessary expenses during my visit Dai Nam park.

I availed Sinh Tourist for almost all the tours I had in my itinerary, because I thought theirs the cheapest one. One-day Mekong Delta tour in Sinh Tourist costs 13 usd. But since, I'm runnin out of budget, I tried checking other tour operators for a cheaper price.

Mekong tours usually leaves Saigon at 8am. It's almost 8am, yet I haven't booked one for myself. I even thought of just staying in my guesthouse, if ever I can't find cheaper that 13 usd, so I can save some amount and just buy additional pasalubong.

I was contemplating my options when accidentally entered Viet Vacation travel (my supposed travel agent which I weren't able to find during my first day in Saigon..) I just pretended I'm a walk-in customer haha.

They have no open slot for that day's Mekong tour, their shuttle bus was about to leave. But the attendant was so accomodating, he tried calling other agencies and asked if they have one more seat for me... and just so how lucky I am - one seat was available, and it only cost me 10usd.

Mekong Delta day-tour.

Mekong River is one of the longest rivers in the world. It is connected to six countries, including Yunnan province of China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

I've read somewhere that the brown color of the Mekong river is a by-product of the destructive land use system in the watershed. It may not sound good but its color made the river so unique and just different.

Travel time from Saigon to the jump off of Mekong Delta tour is about more than an hour, plus the 45-minute-stop-over in one local classy restaurant.

After some ice-cream break, (nakakabili pa naman ako  ng ice cream kahit tipid mode na haha) we headed to the main jump off point of the tour.

If you have more budget, you can find cheaper souvenir stores at the port area. But just do it after the tour.

Here's our not-so-ordinary motorized bangka, complete with elegant seats and life jackets, of course.

The chocolate-brown Mekong River:

Vietnam Friendship Bridge

I didn't set any expectation with regards to my Mekong Delta tour. As it was mentioned in some travel forums that this can be very boring.

Somehow, yes. Maybe for us, Filipinos. Especially those who have lived in the rural areas, because we are so used to the local barrio set-up.

buhay pa ang bata, tinakpan lang...*lol*

We docked and hopped off the motorized bangka. We were escorted to a coconut-candy-factory. They also make ginger candy which most of my friends who tasted it complained about it's very awkward anghang  taste. Pero masarap naman sya nung tinikman ko ang  free taste nila.

Apart from local made candies and delicacies, you can also scout for some noble souvenirs in th area. Most were made of coonut, and this one's just cute.

what you hear, what you see, what you speak

They also have this barrel of snake juice. According to them, it's good for the health. Thanks..but no thanks!

free taste, anyone?
We then had a short break in one local restaurant. we were served with different fruits. Nothing special, except we were serenaded with Vietnamese singers singing  Vietnamese songs, in their sweet Vietnamese tune.

 Just before we went for lunch, we passed this carabao having his bath time, when one tour guide had her fed with some grass - and all the tourist went crazy. It's as if it was their first time to have seen such. And so, every one wants to have photo-op with the instant celebrity animal. This, I think made it boring for most Pinoys.

But what made me decide to pursue this tour amid some financial crisis? haha...

Well, it's the shallow dream of mine to witness and have a first-hand experience to this:

Riding a paddled boat, wearing the traditional Vietnamese straw-hat, in the middle of the mangroves, along the very brown, very calm Mekong river. Very quite. Very solemn.

While in the boat, I can't help but imagine some scenes from war movies I used to watch when I was a kid - that scene where soldiers traversing the river, enemies will suddenly emerge from water, complete with camoflouge and armed with spears and blades. Attacking the soldiers and the fight is on. Ahaha

So much for my childish imagination, I saw myself approaching the dock area. It was indeed a very short and sweet yet memorable ride.

Hopped back in into our water-taxi. And headed back to the city.

I reached Saigon around 4pm. Still have enough time to waste in the park, while waiting for the night market. I have to return one damaged shirt I bought the other day, and hopefully have it repleaced.

Remember, I mentioned Viet love outdoors. Here's more evidence:

The whole park was occupied with boys and girls, young and not-so-old ones, pLaying this one particular sport, if you can call it one. Even tourist are welcome to join them.

Got bored watching these locals playing. Nakakahilo. If  J was with me, sure he will enjoy it, and might join them as well.

I approached one local whom I thought was selling some food. It turned out, she's a mobile-salon. See?

manicure at the park - 30, 000 VND

If you're not a fan of the sipa-takyang-thing, you can wait til around 530pm and join these another group of health enthusiast for an afternoon/evening exercise. It's for free. It's for everyone.

The night market opens at 7pm. Just a friendly reminder, when you plan to visit the Benh Thanh night market, make sure not to ask prices and store-hop at the same time. We are so used to that in Divisoria or any markets in the country. Kung ayaw nyong mapahiya at mamura ng katakot takot ng mga tinderang Vietnamese, wag kayong magtanong ng presyo kung hindi nyo bibilhin. Haha. I know the trend, but I wanted to experienced it myself. And yes, I wished the earth could swallow me out just to ran away from that bungangerang tindera who shouted at me, as if cursing me to death, because I asked  the price of the bags she's selling - then walked away from her store. Haha

Seriously, they won't tell you the price unless you're a sure buyer. Lucky you if you'll meet some Pinay tindera in the night market, who will just approach you with spiels like 'suki, bili na.. mura lang.. pangbwena mano lang'.. I should know, I met one. Haha.

Tired from the whole day tour, had my last dinner in Saigon at PHo 2000, again. I enquired about the tripod I left in the restaurant but it seemed like they have no idea about it. So, goodbye tripod.

spot the untouchables
Went back to my guest house. Stayed and chatted with my very accomodating landlady. She even arranged a taxi service for me on my way back to the airport. If ever, I will have another chance to visit HCMC, I will still stay in Tam Amh guesthouse. Hopefully, not the top floor.

07.08.2011, 0530H
Day 9 - TOUCHDOWN: Philippines

I'm done with my itinerary for my next solo backpacking next year. Again, it's somewhere in Asia. I'm just waiting for the next cheapest seat sale. Haha

borrowed photo: credits to the owner
*no, it's not Mt. Kota Kinabalu*


  1. may prize ba to pag nahulaan ko?hahaha,mt.bromo hahaha.nasa listahan ko rin yan kaso mukhang matatalo siya ng myanmar so baka sunod na yan.good luck sa trip mo.damihan mo ng kwento at pics ha.

  2. ahahaha.. isang malaking 'TAMA' lang ang prize.. thanks.. got tickets na, pero november pa, sana kayanin ko ang lamig by that time.. at hopefully, hindi maging 'thank you' ang tickets..