Our journey from Chau Doc to Can Tho was an interesting one. With very few details in our guidebook of onward travel, we booked a local bus through our hotel and were surprised when it was a small minivan, rather than a larger bus.
After many unsuccessful attempts to buy a bottle of water at a sensible price in the bus station, which seems to be a common theme in Vietnam, we eventually succeeded and set off on the three-hour journey.
The minibus was reasonably full, but the ticket collector who sat on a small stool by the passenger door whistled, shouted and waved frantically from the open window to try and sell further seats. Fellow passengers included local ladies who were wearing the traditional Vietnamese hats, an elderly lady who ate seeds and spat the husks onto the floor for the entire journey and a monk. I particularly liked the moped driver who sat in the front passenger seat and kept his helmet on for the entire journey. Although he must have been a very hot, I don’t actually blame him, as the driving in Vietnam is very erratic and can be harassing with drivers taking what I consider to be unnecessary risks when overtaking.
Luckily our journey coincided with ‘the boy’s’ morning nap, so he lay down across our laps and we held onto him tightly as he slept for two hours of the journey, waking only for the last hour when we were pleased, or should I say relieved, to arrived safely and in one piece.
The main attraction in Can Tho is the floating market. Many people have visited the floating markets in Thailand, but the market in Can Tau is the original floating market in Asia. A morning market visit meant an early start the following morning, leaving the dock in a small boat at 6am. Well we should have left at 6am, but for some strange reason our alarm didn’t go off. Instead I woke up naturally, checked the time and it was 5.55am! Unbelievably, after a manic scramble to get ready, we were out the door and by the waterfront by 6.15am. Not a bad result for two adults and a baby.
Surprisingly, and for the first time on our trip we were presented with a baby size life jacket. With ‘the boy’ dressed in his safety-floating device we set off on the one-hour journey up the river to where the market was already in full swing.
The atmosphere was brilliant. Each boat sold one type of produce, be it pineapples, mangoes, green beans, eggs or sweet potatoes and they moved slowly up and down the river, selling produce to other boats and the floating cafes.
As we meandered through the market, locals shouting out their prices, other smaller boats selling coffee, soft drinks and even steaming hot bowls of Pho (noodle soup) sidled up to us to try and sell their wares. Forget Starbucks, this is the ultimate coffee on the go!
Our three-hour trip ended with a detour around the canals. We watched local folk preparing vegetables and washing their clothes on the edge of the riverbank before heading back to dock for a late breakfast.
Top tip of the day:
During our time in Vietnam we’ve realised that some boats/tours have baby life jackets available. Make this one of your criteria when choosing and negotiating a tour and price.