We crossed over the border from Cambodia to Vietnam at 11:52am which I was super jazzed about because it meant that I could truly say “GOOOOOOD MORNING VIETNAM!” and mean it! (I’ve been waiting my entire life to make that reference. No judging!)
Vietnam immediately looks different. One of the main things I noticed was that almost every single person I saw was wearing a hat. We learnt that this is because in Vietnam having pale skin is a high status symbol. If you are tanned it means you are a worker who works in the rice paddies. (If that’s the case, I’d be vietnamese Royalty with my ghostly skin! Although to be fair, Cambodia did give me a nice wee golden glow).
Our first destination in Vietnam was “The Venice of Southeast Asia”, Can Tho. This is a major city that sits on the Mekong Delta and uses the waterways for transport and trade. It’s about 5-6 via bus from the border so we stopped on the way for lunch and to get some Vietnamese currency. I had my first (of many) bowl of Pho, a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup. It tasted delicious! The Vietnamese dollar is extremely different to ours so because of the way that the currency converted, I had about 4 Million Vietnamese Dong! #Millionaire.
We arrived at our homestay which appeared from the road to be in the middle of nowhere, what we couldn’t see however was that it backed on to a network of waterways! We were promptly taken on a tour of the little village and learnt all about the trade and the markets on the water. We also learnt about all the plants growing nearby and what the were used for and how they would be cooked. This led on to our dinner which we cooked ourselves! (Well, part of it anyway) We made rice pancake with minced pork inside and it tasted amazing. They fed us so much that we couldn’t finish it all!
That night we slept in little concrete dorm rooms on (very hard) mattresses with beautifully bright coloured mosquito nets surrounding us all. It was quite out in the open and a great way to spend our first night in this beautiful country.
The next morning we got up nice and early and said goodbye to our host family. We then headed down to the main part of the delta in Can Tho and checked out the famous morning river markets. They were selling anything and everything including coffee, soft drinks, fruit, meat, fish and everything in between… and all off the back of their boats! We tied ourselves to a pineapple boat and a few of us climbed onto it and watched as a lady cut as a fresh pineapple to share. This was the BEST pineapple i’ve tasted in my life and it was that moment, whilst standing a top of this boat with my new best friends eating the most delicious fruit in the world that I just thought. This is my life. How could it get better than this!? I love having those moments and it’s in them that you feel you’ve made the right decision. I just thought to myself, I’m standing on a pineapple boat on the mekong delta right now… I literally don’t know anyone else in my life that has done this before, what a special moment. Absolutely surreal.
We floated past the local families living on the banks of the river and saw the young children helping their parents with their floating stalls or even playing in the muddy water. Life is SO different here, more different than I could have ever imagined.
After the markets we hopped back on the bus and sadly departed this beautiful little river city. It was bittersweet though because we were headed to a much anticipated location for me… Ho Chi Minh City.