HCMC and the Mekong Delta

My train arrived in Quy Nhon with a little over an hour delay. Something I quite liked since my estimated arrival time in HCMC was around 4:20am (this train was actually not my first choice but on the later one the soft beds were fully booked). So whatever delay we could get I was happy with. It just meant I could sleep a bit longer and arrive at a more humane time.

We ended up arriving with a two hours delay. What a bliss to sleep until 6am and have time to brush my teeth. I had arranged for a pickup service and my driver was waiting with a sign for me.

In the Beautiful Saigon 2 Hotel my room was not ready to check in and there was no shower in the communal area. But they had a bathroom at least and before breakfast I could freshen up a bit. While drinking my coffee I perused the tour menu and saw that the city tour and the Cu Chi tunnels could be done at the same day. Since this would save me a day I could spend one day seeing the Mekong delta.

I was not too sure about going there because the reviews I had read online didn’t sound promising. But since I had an extra day I decided on making the tour.

I booked the tour with the reception and after breakfast I was already on my way. Looking out of the bus window this city appeared as crazy as Hanoi. Probably even more so since it had a lot more inhabitants (ok, around 5 millions more, I looked it up).

Once outside the city traffic was less and we soon stopped in My Thon to visit the Vinh Trang pagoda. There was still a slight drizzle but this would eventually stop.

  
   
Back on the bus we drove just a bit until we arrived at the Mekong. Here we all got off and got on a boat that brought us to our lunch destination on Tortoise Islet. Lunch again was not great, so no pictures from there.

  

With the boat we went to the next islet where we visited a family that made coconut candies. The coconut is first shredded, then cooked, in a next step molasses is added and cooked some more and finally the mass will be spread on a board, cut into stripes, cut into squares and wrapped individually. Quite a lot of manual labor for a candy that didn’t taste great.

After the visit we were put on a hand-rowed sampan in pairs and I ended up with a rower who looked like Freddie Kruger.

The boat ride was no longer than ten minutes, but it was enough to get three new mosquito bites. Next stop was a honey bee farm where we sampled lemon tea with honey and got entertained with local music.

For the music please click here, it was interesting in an awful way.IMG_5402

And that was basically it. After that we got on the bus and drove back for two hours to HCMC. While still on the bus I got a text from Willemeijn that she was already at the hotel. I had met her at the Farmstay in Phong Nha and then again in Hoi An. Only this time we had decided to share a room.

So when I arrived at the Beautiful Saigon 2 Hotel she was already waiting for me. We shared our travel stories and then we walked for dinner with people she had met in Dalat. And with walked I really mean we walked. Forever actually!

The taxi wouldn’t take us because the street was right around the corner, but the place we were going to was at ‘district’ 9. I don’t really know how the numbering worked but after a while numbers were starting over with a different ‘district’ number. And we started at ‘district’ one….

I am just glad it was worth it. Her friends were really nice and the food was amazing. The place we had walked to was outside the usual tourist area since the couple who discovered it was renting an apartment around the area. At 11pm or so we called it a night. I had another tour planned and she was meeting her friends at the War Remnants Museum. You’d, Pollybert

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Chongqing

After a good night on the train I arrived at my destination at 7:40 in the morning.IMG_2114 IMG_2116

It took me a while to find the baggage hold (called “left luggage”) and even longer to find the tourist information. Thank god they had one. Because the train station in Chongqing is huge compared to the one in Xi’an South.

I found the information after following the signs forever (and getting lost in the process) and asked there how to get to the zoo. I hadn’t read much before but I did look up what to do for the day in Chongqing. The zoo was number 6 on the top 10 list and also within the city limits. Perfect for a day trip.

As it turned out the zoo was only a 30 minutes metro ride away. But before going there it was time for breakfast. With no dinner the night before I was starving, so a noodle soup in a diner next to the train station was quite alright.IMG_2118 IMG_2117
Changing the metro line once, I was at the zoo in a flash.IMG_2119 IMG_2120 IMG_2121

The zoo appeared to me as the green lung of Chongqing. A large and lush areal within the city and full of doting grandparents. I fully enjoyed my day there just walking around, eating ice cream, watching animals and bonding with the locals.IMG_2124 IMG_2128 IMG_2131 IMG_2136 IMG_2137 IMG_2141 IMG_2142

 

The way back felt so much easier, like I have never done anything else.IMG_2143

I picked up my bag, got a taxi and with the help of another guy my driver also knew where to go.

Due to lack of water was the harbor in Chongqing closed and we had to get ferried upstream to Fengdu.IMG_2146

 

So the meeting point for the cruise guests was the national theater. 

After another half an hour and at a good rate (love the taxis here, taxometer is on and you have no problem. In China, no problem!), I was back in the organized world of tourist traveling.

I might have gotten a bit of a heart attack when for the first 20 minutes or so I only saw Chinese faces. But that changed when some western looking people arrived as well.

I took my seat and finally at 10pm I made it onto the ship, the Victoria Jenna.IMG_2148

 

I had booked a shared cabin which was empty on my entry (and stayed so for the trip). After a long shower I headed on the top deck for something to drink and some relaxation time. Yours, Pollybert