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open mind, empty stomach

travel, food, and fun

Most people travel through Vietnam from north to south, then move on to Cambodia. I, of course, did the opposite. I went from Kep, Cambodia to Vietnam via the “Ha Tien Crossing.” Getting through the border was very easy and my first stop in Vietnam was Can Tho. Can Tho is the largest city in the Mekong Delta and is home to its largest floating market. Coming from Cambodia, Can Tho seemed like a modern, developed city. It was more of a capital city than Phnom Penh. There were neon lights everywhere, tall buildings, and people seemed wealthier. Food and drink prices were comparable to Cambodia. I stayed at LP’s pick for Can Tho, the Hien Guesthouse. It was decent and cheap, but they did not provide the advertised free wifi. I booked a delta tour through a travel agent, Miss Ha, that works with Hien. She was a real character and truly lived up to her name. The tour itself was enjoyable for its novelty, but not life changing. The largest floating market in the delta was not nearly as big as I thought it would be. There were maybe 20 boats, most of which were selling fruits and vegetables. They had poles on their boats with whatever was being sold attached to the top. Pineapples were $.25 each! After the market, we went to a rice noodle factory. The people at the factory work 14+ hour days, 7 days a week with a 15 minute break for lunch and get 3 days off annually. We cruised down the river to the second floating market that is for locals, not tourists. All of the tourists must receive the same information, because there were more of us at the local market than at the big one. After the second market we went down some small canals and got to walk around a neighborhood. Lunch was at a “home stay.” The home stay was a tourist trap and purely commercial venture that had mediocre food at 3x the normal price. After lunch, we cruised for another hour or so and finished the tour. The boat driver made a variety of animals and jewelry out of palms for us over the course of the trip. The tour wasn’t bad and was worth it, but was nothing to write (blog) home about. I only spent 2 days in Can Tho and it was good to get a taste of the delta. If you want to really experience the delta, I would suggest going elsewhere.

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