Phong Dien

Somehow we managed to get out of the room by 5:30am and rented two bicycles from the International Hotel for the day. After a quick breakfast of coffee and sandwiches we started off on the 20km ride from Can Tho to Phong Dien to visit the floating markets before they wind down at around 8am.

Vietnamese coffee tangent: Everyone around seems to be up and in the streets as soon as the sun rises - running, stretching, doing aerobics or just shouting at eachother and honking their moto horns (a national pastime?). I think this has everything to do with the rocket-fuel coffee they’re drinking constantly. The coffee shops in Vietnam serve only coffee and tea. No food, sometimes cigarettes, but thats it. You usually get a glass of ice, a pot of tea and a shot glass with a miniature percolator sitting on top. After a few minutes, the coffee filters down into the glass (which is already loaded with sugar) and then you pour it into the ice. I’ve been a regular coffee drinker for the past couple years, but a cup of this stuff makes me light-headed…

We managed to pedal straight to Phong Dien without getting lost (something to be proud of!) but couldn’t figure out how to get over to the market. We rested over a bowl of pho bo and walked around the town a little - we seemed to be the only foreigners in sight and attracted lots of attention. After a while, a local guy called us over and we got into his boat for a long tour around the canals, including a visit to the floating market. It turned out to the best boat ride yet - we spent 4 hours traveling along shallow canals into the countryside and stopped in a small village for drink. The kids were fascinated by Dan and I and soon we were entertaining about 30 of them, playing carem and communicating with the help of an english-vietnamese dictionary.

Muddy Banks Crossing

After the tour, we rode back to Can Tho, took a nap and went out for dinner. We found a place that served snake curry and a good tamarind-sauce eel dish and then went out for a farewell round(s) of bia hoi - Dan left for Ho Chi Minh yesterday and I decided to continue westward, further into the delta. After a couple weeks traveling with some great new friends, I’m solo again…