19 October – Can Tho
Wake up just before 8.00am.
Hmmm, almost ten hours sleep. Must have needed it….
And off in the distance, the muffled sounds of karaoke.
It’s funny, our first ‘experience’ with karaoke was down here three years ago. You’ll find it all over Vietnam, but perhaps it’s a little more noticeable down here because it’s so quiet.
Anyway, seems someone is pretty keen on giving his vocal chords a bit of a workout this morning….
Over for breakfast by 8.30am, and today it’s a fried egg with toast, along with some fruit, and of course, a caphe sua da.
We sit, eat, chat, and savour our coffee, while just watching the world go by.
Well, not so much the world, seeing as we haven’t left Green Village yet, more so the goings on of the animals.
Mooni ruling the roost, Big Big annoying Mooni, and then being told off, and Nana the cat doing what cats do….
Then there were the new arrivals; the two skittish baby chickens who were pretty much inseparable, as well as the new kitten which is quite possibly the smallest fluffy thing I’ve ever seen.
Kind of cute, if I’m being honest, but seeing as I’m not….
Eventually the urge to actually do something becomes strong enough that we actually decide to do something.
A bike ride it is.
So, two bikes grabbed, with the help of Hanh, as well as a hand drawn map, that is taken with more than a little trepidation.
Me and Vietnamese maps don’t always, read, pretty much never, get along harmoniously.
Map nervously put in my pocket, and we head off to begin the getting lost thing.
But we don’t get far. Actually, I’m not sure Lisa went one whole revolution of her pedals before she managed to break the chain.
Hmmm, seems the map could be the least of my problems….
Lisa is given another bike to break, and we’re finally on our way a bit after 10.00am.
Out onto the ‘path’, and like yesterday, we head right. Past ‘our’ café, and we continue on.
It’s very quiet and peaceful, and while it’s already pretty warm, we’re at least in shade most of the time.
The path is easy to ride on, although in parts, it is a little narrow. The occasional motorbike also gives us something else to navigate.
So anyway, so far so good.
Until Lisa slips off the path and into a ditch.
I probably should have gone back to help…
The bike survived, so we continued on, while receiving lots, and I mean lots, of hellos and welcoming smiles.
It was just such a relaxing and enjoyable ride, partly because of the locals, but also because we were in the Mekong. Hilly and mountainous, it ain’t, which is just the terrain I like when I’m on a bike.
My only real concern for the morning was that the bike stand kept falling down. It wasn’t a huge problem, but the fixer in me wanted to do something about it, just in case.
Channelling MacGyver, I set about finding strappy palm leaves to tie the stand in place.
Three attempts, three broken palm leaves, and one unimpressed Lisa, I gave up.
Was a stupid show, anyway…..
We come to a small bridge over a canal, and head across. Up ahead we can see a small local market, so we do what we’ll always do in a situation like that.
And then, almost as good as the market itself, we see a guy with a nuoc mia cart. (sugarcane juice)
Two nuoc mia da’s promptly ordered; well, as promptly as it can be done with fingers and pointing; and we take a seat while he does his thing.
They quickly turn up, but we have a problem; no da!
We manage to get our point across, and he disappears, before returning with a couple of big chunks of ice.
Ahhhh, disaster averted…..
So we sit, and sip, and watch.
We happen to be sitting a couple of doors down from a guy selling chicken, duck, and live seafood, amongst other things, and we watch the comings and goings of his customers.
I love that sort of thing, and yep, it doesn’t take much to keep me happy.
I attempt to take a photo of a local girl trying to ‘catch’ her fish, and as I do, she notices what I’m doing. She looks over, smiles, probably wondering why I find it so interesting, and we have a bit of a laugh.
Yep, doesn’t take much.
We continue to sit and just take it all in. Essentially doing nothing, but at the same time, doing so much.
School is out for lunch, and the steady stream of hellos and waves begins. They’re such great kids.
Eventually, we make a move. Fix up our nuoc mia man the 20 000 Dong we owe him; yep, that’s for two; and we start to head back.
Over the little bridge, and if the map is right; insert nervous trepidation; we should be able to get back by turning left, which is not the way we got here.
We shall see….
My bike stand, a bit like the map, is still making me nervous. But then, a MacGyver light bulb moment kicks in.
Ideally looking to fashion something with a clothes peg, a softdrink bottle top, and the skeletal remains of a small bird, I then notice a discarded Vietnamese face mask beside the path.
Hmmm, the elastic cord from that, while perhaps not as good as what I originally had in mind, could just suffice, I think.
Pulling over, I remove what I need, and then proceed to tie two, not just one!, knots in the elastic to keep the stand in place.
To say that Lisa was impressed with my ingenuity would be……ummm,……well, not terribly accurate.
We move on, with one of us pretty pleased with what we’ve just achieved….
A bit further on we start to hear some pretty loud music; perhaps the karaoke from earlier this morning???; and then up ahead, we can see people milling about on the path.
It’s obviously some kind of party, and as we get closer, a few of the guests start waving and calling out.
We stop to ‘chat’, and as we do, a young guy, perhaps early 20’s, comes out of the house. He sees me sitting on my bike, and races over to shake my hand. He’s just a little bit excited that we’re there.
The requests for photos then begins, which I love, before an older guy tries to get me to come in for a beer.
Oh, so tempted. And I almost did.
But a couple of things were stopping me.
It was still pretty early, and we were not too far off from going into Can Tho with Thy.
I also knew that if I did go in, then it would be very difficult to get out again. They weren’t going to let me go that easily.
I also had Lisa with me, and well,…..yes, I had Lisa with me…..
Reluctantly, I disappoint them by declining their invitation. Still, lots of smiles and laughing, as well as final handshakes, as we head off.
And as we do, I regret the decision immensely.
I still do….
A bit further on we come across some kids climbing trees next to the canal. They were probably about eight years old, and as is usually the case, they were pretty forthcoming with their hellos.
We practiced a little English, which didn’t go much further than ‘hello, what your name?”, but still had a lot of fun doing it. Again, lovely just to interact.
On we go, and all of a sudden, a familiar sight. Quickly followed by the Green Village 2 sign.
Wow! The map and I actually worked well together this time. Could that be a first in Vietnam???
Dropped the bikes off, but had to find somewhere to lean mine, seeing as my two knots were doing their job just a little bit too well, and headed back to the room to cool off.
But not for long, as lunch was at 1.00pm.
And what a lunch it was. Whole fish, chicken and sweet potato soup, rice, and a warm salad of some sort. Again, if it’s plant material, remembering specifics is difficult.
This was all followed by a dessert of cooked bananas.
It was all beautiful, but again, it was just too much, and I now have concerns about where dinner is going to fit.
As we were finishing lunch, it starts to rain, so it’s decided to put the Green Village 1 and Can Tho tour on hold for a bit. We instead head back to our room to relax, as well as recover from lunch.
For me, it’s a bit of Trip Advisoring, and just generally relaxing out in the hammock on the veranda, while Lisa has a nap.
Yep, this is the life, and it was lovely to be able to get the opportunity to do it. The heat and the humidity does get to you, and sometimes you just need to stop and do nothing.
The rain eventually eases, so I take a walk around the grounds. Thy then comes down and lets us know we’ll be leaving in about half an hour.
A quick shower, and we head up to the common area. Thy wants to know if it’s alright if Hanh comes with us?
“Absolutely!, The more the merrier!”, we say.
We walk out and up to the main road, and the taxi is already there. We all pile in and the driver begins to do a ‘U’ turn.
Unfortunately, the road is quite narrow, and the roadworks that are being carried out have made it even narrower.
Unfazed by this, the driver begins what ends up being something like a 28 point turn.
No mean feat on its own, but to do it in a manual car, while talking on his phone, was quite an accomplishment.
Very talented, he was…
A few minutes later a familiar sign comes into view, and we pull up outside Green Village 1.
Down the narrow path that we walked, with a reasonable amount of trepidation I might add, three years earlier, and there it is.
While it looks the same as I remembered, it also looks a little different. We meet the new staff, including the manager Trieu, (known as ‘T’) and then walk around the grounds for a bit of a look.
It all comes back, and it’s great to see it again. And while there was a small component of our last visit that didn’t go exactly to plan, it is a place that holds great memories for me.
And I’m not completely sure why it does mean so much to me. I’ll just put it down to the people.
After all, is it not the people that make or break a place?
We take a few photos and then head back to the taxi.
“Do you mind if Cammy comes with us, too?”, Thy asks.
There really was no need to ask, and the five of us squeeze into the car.
The rain has now well and truly cleared, and the sun is back out. And it’s hot!
It’s a bit like Melbourne weather, but on steroids.
A quick stop at a local pharmacy for Lisa, who breaks the budget with an 8000 Dong purchase of some cream, for an earring infection issue, and we head into Can Tho.
And as we do, the rain returns. Heavy, too!
Seeing as the weather isn’t conducive to walking the streets of Can Tho, it’s decided that a ‘small’, early dinner, would be a good idea.
Hmmm, more food. And seeing as I feel like I’ve just had lunch….
We pull up at a place that does a dish called Banh Cong, which is a fried muffin type thing that comes with lettuce and various herb leaves.
They’re nice, but a little fiddly. And the fact that I’m just so full makes it a bit difficult to really enjoy.
But again, it’s not about the food, it’s all about who we’re here with.
The rain eventually stops, so we head out. But we don’t get far as Thy realises she left her jacket at the restaurant.
Being the chivalrous male, I run back to get it. But I think Hanh was worried I might get lost, so she came with me. Was probably a good idea….
Jacket retrieved, we walk the now very wet streets.
Down past the night market near the river, and then onto the road that runs besides the river.
A familiar looking building, with a market inside, starts to bring back memories. We walked through it three years ago just before things started to go pear shaped.
A little further down there’s a couple of restaurants on the other side of the road. And now it’s becoming much clearer. We ate at one of them last time, and it was here that the boy’s stomach decided it no longer required what was in it at the time.
Dinner was hastily finished, and then began the journey of doctors’ visit, followed by hospital visit, and then ultimately, an early end to the night.
Ahhh, great memories…..
Continuing along beside the river, more familiar sights. A pagoda that we went into last time, as well as the huge statue of Ho Chi Minh.
Down to a new walking bridge that is all lit up with bright colourful lights, including a lovely illuminated lotus flower.
It’s a really nice area, and the whole thing looks great at night.
We then head back towards the night market and the suggestion of more food is made.
Thy ends up ordering a pizza type dish from one of the vendors, and while I didn’t really need it, it was really nice.
The rain then returns, so we head over to the building with the market in it, for shelter. It seems the exploring of Can Tho, just like three years earlier, isn’t going to work.
It’s decided that perhaps we should head to a place for our ‘real’ dinner, so Thy calls a taxi.
Not sure I really need food, but I could certainly go a beer.
The taxi turns up and we head off back in the general direction of Green Village. On the outskirts of Can Tho we pull up at a fairly large, and very busy, barbeque place.
I love it!
Seeing as the food component is a distant second to the actual overall experience, I leave the menu decisions to Thy and Hanh. Although, when a duck tongue dish gets mentioned, my interest is piqued.
Someone, who shall remain nameless, had once raved about an incredibly tasty duck tongue dish he’d once had.
I told Thy, and she said she’d never had it before.
At this point I really should have listened to the alarm bells going off in my head.
But no, I instead thought that seeing as neither of us had had it before, then we ought to include it tonight.
So we did.
And I’m very glad about that, because it means I’ll never have to order it again.
While it tasted alright, it was just a weird looking thing that required a reasonable amount of effort to actually get anything worthwhile off it to eat.
It kind of looked like some sort of dental prosthetic, which, considering where it actually came from, perhaps isn’t all that surprising.
Anyway, box ticked on that particular part of the duck.
The rest of the food was much more satisfying, and Hanh did a great job of cooking the lot on our small barbeque on the table. So much for having a night off….
Prawns, beef for rice paper rolls, pork, from a wild pig, apparently, which was really nice, ladies fingers, or okra, and some lotus stem, which I’d never had before. And still haven’t, seeing as I somehow missed out.
Even though I wasn’t overly hungry, I still managed to eat a fair bit of it.
Partly because it was so nice, and partly because Hanh kept filling up my bowl.
So yes, the perfect mix you want in a night out. Good food, great place, and brilliant company. It really was a fantastic night, and we had a lot of laughs.
But, all good things must come to an end, and we jumped in a taxi to head back to Green Village. It was still raining, and with the amount of water on the roads, as well as the condition of some of the roads, it was a bit of a slow trip back.
The taxi dropped us off up on the main road and we headed back down to the path beside the canal. Very wet, as well as very, very dark, we found our way with the help of Cammy’s phone light.
We say our goodnights, and head back to the room for the usual beers and Trip Advisor stuff on the bed. As well as a little contemplating of what we’d actually done today.
And what we’d done, was, essentially, very little. But it had been a great day, and proof once again, that you don’t have to fill your days with ‘sites’ and ‘attractions’.
Sometimes, actually, a lot of the time, it’s the little and seemingly insignificant things, that can bring the most pleasure. And not to mention, be the most memorable.
Only one full day left down here, and while that’s concerning, it is a day that I’m looking forward to.
Our second floating market in three days, and our second visit to Cai Rang in three years. It will be interesting to see if it’s changed much in that time.
Hopefully the rain won’t be an issue, and with the amount that we’ve had, I am a little concerned.
We’ll know more at 5.30am, which is at least slightly better than 4.30am…..