Vietnam 2014 – Trip Report #2

These reports are from our very first trip to Vietnam in September 2014, so therefore prior to the previous trip reports!

Originally posted on TripAdvisor, this is Trip Report #2…

 

21-23 September 2014

On only our second full day it was time to say goodbye to HCMC and make our way to Can Tho to explore some of the Mekong.

Therefore it was also time to say goodbye to the Bizu hotel and it’s friendly staff.

Why did we choose the Bizu?

The main reason was that it was one of the few places we found that would sleep four in the one room.

Back then we thought it would be nice to spend some quality time together as a family.

It didn’t take long for that concept to wear thin….

The hotel was nice, and as I said, the staff very friendly and helpful.
The room was a good size and had good views of the city and the street below.
Breakfast was in the building next door and was reasonable.

Gripes?

One.

It used the key tag in the wall arrangement.
Tag not in wall = no electricity.
No problem with that……however…..the fridge (with my beer in it) also switched off.

Problem with that?

Big problem!

34°C and 99% humidity.

Yep, big problem….

All in all, pretty happy with Bizu, but in hindsight, probably wouldn’t have stayed there if we knew what sort of area it was in; bit backpacker-ish.

Anyway, back to making our way to Can Tho.

We’d booked tickets for the bus (incidentally through the hotel late in the afternoon the day before. Cu Chi tour was also booked this way) which was due to leave the bus station at 10.00am.
This meant we needed to be at the bus office, from memory, around 8.30am to allow plenty of time to take the shuttle bus to the station.
Taxi arrived as requested and we made it to the bus station with plenty of time to spare.
In fact, we got there at 8.50am.
Bit of a wait ahead of us.

So, a public bus.

No easy private transfer this time.

Back to that deep end….

The bus station.

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE
Not many people out here.  But in the waiting room…

Crowded. Noisy. Very local. Not too many tourists here.

Not confident of receiving much help either.

Suspect language barrier may be more like a wall.

Anyway…., enter a 60 ish year old bus line employee.

Wants to see our tickets.

Him – “Your bus is not until 10.00am. You have an hour to wait.”

Me – “Yeah, I know. That’s Ok.”

Him – “Ok, well just wait here and I will come and get you when it’s time.”

Me – (very surprised and very relieved) “Thank you!”

Five minutes later…..

Our ‘saviour’ returns.

Him – Pointing at the bus outside – “That’s the 9.00am bus to Can Tho. It’s not full and you can catch that one if you like?”

Me – “Absolutely! Thank you very, very much!”

What a gem of a find. A gem of a man! So unexpected.

I will remember him for a long time.

Now on our way.

The bus trip?

I really enjoyed it.
A great way to see the countryside as well as some really interesting things.

After a pit stop half way for a toilet break and a chance to have something to eat and drink, we arrived in Can Tho around 3 1/2 hours later.

A taxi met us at the bus stop (kindly organised by Green Village Homestay) to take us to our accommodation for the next 2 nights.

Green Village
Finally arrived!
path to Green Village
The path to Green Village!

Entering Green Village along a path, lined by banana palms, that leads from the road, I again wondered we’d gotten ourselves in to.

I also wondered what the kids thought.

Note; it was still early days into our holiday and at this point I did still care…..

Anyway, needn’t have worried.

Introduced to our host, Thy, and her housekeepers, we immediately felt welcomed and right at home.

wearing Non Las - Green Village
About to head off for a walk after just arriving.  Not really pulling off the Non-La (hat) thing…

Our accommodation was a bamboo hut with 2 double beds, a bathroom, mosquito nets, a fridge, no TV and was surrounded by banana palms and a small creek and pond.

Me? – I thought it was idyllic.

The kids? – There’s no TV. What do you think…..?

So, things we did in the Mekong.

A fair bit.

And not much at all.

And I loved every bit of it.

Green Village
Just a little bit relaxed!

Up early one morning (kids happy again…..) and off to see the Cai Rang floating market.
We did that in our own small boat with Thy’s cousin Hanh (lovely girl and a great tour guide) and Thy’s housekeeper driving the boat.
A wonderful experience full of incredible sights.
We all felt like we were right in amongst it and hardly saw another tourist in the process.

Cai Rang Market
The pole shows what’s being sold on each boat.
Cai Rang Market
Cai Rang floating market.

The other great thing about the day?

Just being able to sit and talk with Hanh. To find out about her life and the lives of locals.

It was a fantastic insight and we felt like friends, not just guests.

Bike riding –

Mostly just me, but sometimes with Lisa, and occasionally with the kids.

Riding along roads or paths beside rivers, the number of kids that ran out yelling “Hello” and “What your name?” was incredible.
Their enthusiasm and happiness was amazing.
It was just a joy to interact with them and we even managed a couple of photos with some of them. They also loved looking at their image on the camera as well.

Another bike riding experience –

Riding late one afternoon on my own.
A motorbike, carrying 2 males, rides towards me. It slows, does a U-turn and pulls up beside me.

The younger guy on the back is from the Philippines and speaks English well; but not Vietnamese. He seems very happy to meet me. The older guy driving is a local and English is not his thing; not surprisingly his Vietnamese is very good.
He also seems happy to see me.
Anyway, with a bit of translating going on, I am invited back to the older guy’s home for iced tea.
What an invitation!
And as far as I was concerned, an invitation that couldn’t be refused.

So, 10 minutes later I’m sitting in his house.

It turns out that the young guy, Tyler, moved to South Korea for work. He works with the older guy’s daughter and is now going out with her. They are on holidays and she has brought him back to meet her parents.

So here he is, a Philippino who works in South Korea, visiting his Vietnamese girlfriend’s parents for the first time, in a small country town in the south of Vietnam, drinking iced tea with an Aussie, who minutes earlier, had been riding a girls bike with a basket on the front.

And the reason he was so happy to meet me?

Because for the first time in almost a week he was able to speak English with someone.
What about his girlfriend?

No English. They speak Korean with each other.

Just a surreal experience.

And a brilliant one!

And one other memorable moment.

Maybe not a highlight though…..
One night Hanh offered to show us the sights of Can Tho. Following this we picked a restaurant to have dinner.

It was around this time that the boy began to feel unwell.

It wasn’t long before his stomach was no longer able to contain its contents.

Hanh was quite concerned and phoned Thy back at Green Village. She suggested we visit a doctor and even came into town with her husband to assist us.
(She really is an amazingly caring and generous person.)

It seemed a little extreme (I normally just send him to bed with a bucket) but maybe she knew something we didn’t.
Anyway, the doctor looked at him and suggested we go to hospital.

Can Tho doctor's surgery!
The boy was a little unwell…

Still thought it was unnecessary but a doubt was now in my mind.

So off to visit our first Vietnamese hospital.

And how did we find it?

Ummm, we’ll call it interesting….

Ahead of us in the waiting line was a guy that may, or may not, have now learned that thongs are not really an appropriate form of footwear on a motorbike.

And also, several young men covered in varying amounts of blood.
Suspect not all of their own.
Apparently there had been some sort of altercation.
And apparently both parties were there.

Hmmm, like I said, interesting…..

Anyway, Thy spoke to the doctor who told her it would be some time before the boy could be seen. He suggested another hospital.

It was at this point that my suggestion won through.

Bed and bucket it was to be.

Luckily, he woke up fine the next morning.

Which was really fortunate, as we were leaving Can Tho for HCMC by return bus. This was then to be followed by a taxi to the airport and then a flight to Nha Trang.

A long day ahead.

But that will need to be in the next instalment.

So my opinion of Green Village?

Loved it!

Would stay there again in a heartbeat.

Not just for the location but for the people there. Thy, her husband, Hanh and her housekeepers.

Just wonderful, genuine, caring people.

Till next time.

Cheers,

Scott

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