I flew out of Minneapolis on January 4 and arrived in Ho Chi Minh City the next day. (This trip allowed me to fly completely around the world - Delhi to Paris to Minneapolis, then Minneapolis to Seoul to HCMC, then a country hop through SE Asia to Bhutan and back to Delhi!).
Emily was waiting in the hotel and Elsa arrived the next morning. First impressions of HCMC: cosmopolitan people, indistinct architecture that could be in any major city, and motorcycles everywhere! We had one "war day" where we went to Cuchi tunnels and the humbling war museum. Otherwise we walked around, tried not to die crossing the streets, ate so much good food, and got massages.
From HCMC, we took a public bus to Vinh Long. When we arrived at the bus station, we sat down to figure out where to go next. A local man saw us and started chatting. Turns out he runs a home stay (Ngoc Phuong) on an island that is recommended in the Lonely Planet. He hooked us up with transportation - taxi to the ferry, ferry across the Mekong, and motos to take us to the house. We had an amazing dinner (make-your-own fish spring rolls by stabbing at the fish!), took a boat tour of the Mekong markets and backwaters in the morning, and borrowed bikes to tour around the island.
From Vinh Long we were planning to do a ferry border crossing via Chau Doc so we hopped on another bus. Arriving in Chau Doc, we found out we could do a different border crossing to get us closer to our Cambodian destination. We spent one night in Chau Doc, which gave us just enough time to eat the best street food in town. I woke up early and walked around the extensive morning market and treated myself to the oh-so-addicting Vietnamese sweet coffee.
We took a very cramped van (in the states we would call it 15-passenger, but in SE Asia it can fit about 30 people) to the beautiful Gulf of Thailand coast. Our border crossing into Cambodia involved being shuffled around by strangers who had our passports and walking non-chalantly across the border. Pretty easy, pretty entertaining. The funniest part was being abandoned on the side of the road after driving 30 minutes into Cambodia.
|Getting over jet lag in HCMC|
Photo Cred: Elsa
|Sweet moto driver who, after finding out I was American,|
said, "boom! boom! hahaha!"
|It is a tight squeeze in the Cuchi tunnels. According to|
our tour guide, they even widened the tunnels for
foreigners because of "too much beer."
Photo Cred: Emily
|Half-way across the terrifying road featured in the previous photo!|
|A common problem for me in SE Asia.|
Photo Cred: Emily
|Ferry from Vinh Long to An Binh Island.|
|Motos to our guest house on the island.|
|Mekong River at sunrise.|
|Motos to leave the island for Chau Doc.|
|Street food in Chau Doc.|
|Early morning in Chau Doc.|