Our adventure of Vietnam continues with our last full day in Ho Chi Minh. Clark signed us up for a tour with Roadstour. The owner of the company, Phung, ended up being our tour guide. He picked us up from the hotel and we drove about a 1.5 hours towards the Mekong Delta. When Phung asked if we wanted to make a temple visit on the way, I could feel Kassandra’s eyes screaming at me to say no. I knew what she meant. After all the temples we visited in Thailand and Sri Lanka, we kind of feel like we have seen enough temples to last a lifetime. However, since Clark and the boys haven’t had this kind of temple exposure, I figured a quick stop wouldn’t hurt. Plus bathroom breaks are never a bad thing when traveling with children.
From the Chua Vinh Trang temple, we went to our launching point on the river. I don’t know if I have mentioned this or not yet, but it is worth telling you (in my opinion at least) that I was starting to have issues with boats at this point of our vacation. Not the boats per se as I was fine while being on a boat, but as soon as I would step off the boat, I would get a wave of dizziness – feeling like being on a boat but not being on a boat. Nobody else seemed to have any problems with this.
Our first stop along the river was at a coconut candy farm. We got to see the machines they use to turn the coconut into various kinds of coconut flavored candy. Plus we could watch them package the candy by hand. It was probably all a set up for the tourists, but it felt very authentic for what it was.
They were also selling 40 proof “snake juice”. Clark got to try a shot. Eww.
Then we took a little horse cart to a more touristy area. Our guide explained that a cruise ship was at port, so it was busier than usual. We briefly listened to some music and had a snack of some local fruit.
Then we took some small guided boats down a canal lined with trees.
After this, our guide pulled us away to try and get us to a less touristy place. He took us to a small coconut farm owned by an elderly couple. The old man was very nice. He helped the boys climb up a tree to pick their own coconuts before cutting them open, so they could drink the milk. He didn’t seem to speak any English, but his welcoming smile said it all.
As the last part of our tour, we had lunch at a family owned restaurant, Song Nuoc, along the river. Some of the food tasted very similar to the stuff we had made at the cooking school the day before. Tons of food like spring rolls, soup, rice, fish (the look on Gabe’s face was priceless), omelet thingys, and fruit.
As we were leaving the restaurant and walking down the plank to get back on the boat, a man, carrying a semi-tied up crocodile, walked past Clark. As he did, the crocodile’s tail whacked Clark’s leg. It caught me off guard. I am sure it caught Clark off guard too as he stumbled backwards a bit. Luckily he didn’t stumble enough to fall off the ledge into the river. Whew close one. Wish I had a picture of the crocodile.
That was the end of the tour, but our guide continued to be helpful on the drive back to our hotel. He was fabulous about answering all of our questions about Vietnam, even the awkward ones like, so how do Vietnamese people really feel about Americans since the war? Also on the drive back, I couldn’t help but still be amazed at the huge number of motorbikes on the roads. Multiple people pile on to a small bike. People carry large amounts of things as they drive. There doesn’t seem to be in rhyme or reason as they navigate through the roundabouts… and that’s coming from someone that sees crazy roundabout driving every day in the Tawam roundabout.
We asked our guide to help us find a place we would be able to get Pho at for dinner that would be near the hotel. He was great and drove us past a place so we could get their number. He confirmed that they would be willing to deliver the Pho to the hotel. Sweet one night of no hassles figuring out dinner. Right?
After returning to the hotel from an long and exhausting day, we all just wanted to shower and relax. The hotel manager stopped by our room to apologize for any problems we had at the hotel. It took me a minute to realize that he was referring to the Expedia review I had written early about the hotel. I didn’t think it was a negative review, just mentioned that there wasn’t a lot of light in the room and that the hotel was a bit far away from the city (and highlighted how good they are about offering bus and boat shuttles). The manager apparently thought it was a bad enough review to bring me boxes of chocolates as an apology. I felt a bit guilty.
For dinner, Clark got the hotel staff to call the Pho restaurant to order us 5 soups to be delivered. I felt very smug for coming up with this idea that would save us money (30,000 dongs = $1.35 dollars = 5 dirhams per soup) and meant we wouldn’t have to leave the hotel. Then the soups were delivered…. in plastic bags. As we were trying to pour the soup into the very small bowls from the kitchen, Kassandra was the first to open her bag and have it go flooding across the table. Then, as we were cleaning it up, Gabe’s goes splashing everywhere. Finally, as if on cue, Garrett’s soup goes pouring onto the chairs. Clark grabbed pots from the kitchen to try to salvage whatever soup was left as I gathered towels to try to contain the flooding. Finally, all we could do was laugh it off and eat from the pots.
And that was how our time in Ho Chi Minh city came to a close. The next morning we were headed to a new city, Vung Tau, near the beach.