Monday, March 15, 2010

Boat Trips in the Mekong

The best way to view the Mekong Delta is of course from the water, and so that's exactly what Nick and I did. By far, I'd have to say that the best boat trip we took was the one that brought us from Cambodia into Vietnam. I say this because it was only on that boat ride that we actually got off the "main road" of the Mekong and got to see the more provincial side of the Mekong backwaters. But while we were in the Delta, we did go on two other boat rides and had a great time on both.
Our first trip was a 2-hour motorboat ride around Chau Doc. The trip included a very brief stop at a fish farm and another stop at an "ethnic Cham village" which was basically just a small collection of houses on stilts where they tried to sell us some souvenirs.
Nick taking a walk on the pier

We also went through a "floating village" which was an area of the river with a lot of house boats.
a "three story house" three boats strung together in the floating village

It was a bit weird at some points because we were really just floating through people's neighborhoods. Imagine if you were minding your own business in your cul-de-sac when a couple of Vietnamese tourists rode up and started taking pictures of you mowing the lawn... that's what it felt like sometimes. But it was still pretty cool to see, and I guess they're pretty used to it. 

About half way through our trip, we were running short on gas, so we stopped by the floating gas station briefly before continuing on.
Further down the river, we saw a woman paddling around a floating "7-Eleven." Her boat was basically a convenient store on water and she paddled around between house boats and floating houses to see if anyone was in need of anything. While we were watching her, we saw her rinse off her veggies by tossing some river water on them.... definitely not the most sanitary of practices.
One of my favorite sightings was what looked to me like a floating dry-cleaner or laundry service.
And inside this floating village (of floating houses, as opposed to house-boats)
we saw a floating pig-pen! Who says you need to live on land to have farm animals??
All in all, our 2-hour boat tour around Chau Doc was well worth the $3 / each we paid (although we were told the entire trip should cost only $5).

A couple days later we arrived in Can Tho in search of a boat trip to check out the local floating markets. In order to really get a feel for the markets, you have to start just before the sun rises at 5:30am. This way, you can get to the markets when they're in full swing and before all of the tourist boats show up.

Unfortunately, I was the one in charge of the alarm clock that day and welll... let's just say I'm not exactly a morning person. Nick and I didn't wake up until 6:30 and by the time we finally got on the water it was already 7:30. Our boat moved excruciatingly slow and we didn't reach the first market until almost 9:00.

We definitely didn't get there early enough to avoid the masses of tourists
and we probably missed out on a lot of the early morning ambiance. Nevertheless, we still got to check out 2 floating markets and they were both pretty cool. By the time we got to the markets we were pretty hungry, so we bought our breakfast from the first boat we saw.
This little boy sold us our breakfast of champions: bananas and Coke Light

Here are some sights from the market:
a floating butcher - chicken, duck, and beef available here!

The bustling market

a woman rowing her boat full of fruit 
traffic jam at the market
our friendly tour guide

Even though our Can Tho boat tour was much too long for me (we put-putted up the river for 6 hours!) it is still a fabulous way to soak up the Mekong life style. 
 washing the laundry  
 bridge crossing
two friends on the river


  1. I love these pics, and the floating "7-Eleven"

  2. It is really nice to see the culture and the hidden parts of a country. I believe this is where we can really appreciate the beauty of nature. This is also what I notice when we had our dolphins argyll tour. Most of the marine animals and birds are in the provincial side of a place. I hope I can visit Asia as well.