After a last brilliant day with Dan in Phong Dien and Can Tho, we each went our own ways - Dan back to Saigon and I to Chau Doc on my way deeper into the south. After a pleasant bus ride into town I found a room and had a quiet afternoon walking around.
Chau Doc is a major tourist border-crossing town with Cambodia, like Moc Bai except most people entering the country here travel by boat on the Mekong from Phnom Penh or Siam Reap. Its a small and sleepy place that usually serves travelers as a connecting point on the journey to Saigon, but I heard about a couple things worth seeing from another backpacker so decided to stay for 2 nights and explore.
The next morning I found a xe om (motorbike taxi) to take me to the base of Sam Mountain (Nui Sam) where there are several famous pagodas and a peak from which you can sometimes see all the way into Cambodia. I walked up the winding road to the top, stopping at small cafes, shrines, and cave temples on the way. As I was nearing the peak I stopped to take photos of some strange animal statues that were set up in a park area when a group of Vietnamese guys having a picnic called me over. They were sitting on the cliff next to a giant yellow tea-pot looking thing with a big plastic jug of rice wine and a guitar, singing songs and drinking. A very surreal scene… I sat down with them and although we could hardly communicate they insisted that I stay and drink. The guitar was passed around for a while - we traded songs in Vietnamese and English - but I eventually had to leave to avoid getting too drunk to walk up the mountain (it was only 10am anyway!)
I walked for the rest of the day and then turned in early to prepare for the bus journey to Rach Gia the next morning.