A short taxi ride to the Futa bus office and we manage to purchase two tickets to Cai Be for Dong 90 000 (about $5.60). We are transferred by a small bus from the office to the Big bus station at Ben Xe Mien Tay. There is an absolute sea of buses.
After a short wait and a cup of Ca pha sua da (iced coffee with milk) a nice man came and found us and showed us our bus. Numbers matched up, so on we get for the hour and half trip to Cai Be.
We were out into rice fields quite quickly. An interesting sight was seeing quite elaborate graves in the middle of the paddocks and in peoples back yards. It seems that when a family member dies they are just buried with a tomb in the back yard or on the farm.
The bus is fantastic, clean and comfortable. It does pay, however, to not watch ahead or what the driver is up to. There where moments I am sure he had no hands on the wheel.
After being deposited at Sa Tra Cai Be bus station our quite detail instructions from our Air BnB accommodation told us to “look for the unmarked motorbike taxi stand on your left of the main exit of the bus terminal building below a tree. In the absense of any taxi signage, please look for a ‘large tree’ with “many”(as in 5 -10) motorbikes stationed below.” Ok got that. Hang on though, I don’t do bikes, hate them. But apparently there is no choice. It is a 20 minute bike ride. I find out later there are only a few main roads in the Mekong Delta the rest is small tracks only suitable for bikes really. Also it is lucky we pack small and light cos the bike driver had to put our bags between his legs. We had to get the taxi drivers to ring our accommodation because they had no idea where it was. That felt a bit ominous. However, they indicated it was all good, jump on.
Off we go back onto the big road we just got off, complete with buses and trucks tooting at us constantly. I just put complete trust and faith in the young chap driving me and held on. Not long into the trip we turned down a smaller road, and then a smaller track and then a smaller one again. At this point my trusty drivers mobile goes off and he answers it, as we are moving along, steering one handed. Hmmm. And then we came to a complete dead end. There was a new bridge being built and a massive mound of sand was all that was in front of us.
Never fear, our lads U turned and off we headed down a very narrow laneway, at which point they stop and indicate to us that this was it. Get off. We said, “no way, you are not leaving us here.” It was a run down looking building on the edge of a river, not at all like the pictures of the Durian Lodge we had seen on line. After much indicating and arm waving and finger pointing, the taxi guy called the number again and talked animatedly for a while and then hang up, and indicated to us to go down that way. Down a ramp and on to what we now saw was a bike ferry to take us across the river. Ahhh all good. That makes sense, Google maps had said it was across a river.
We make our way across the rickety landing and onto a small ferry. An incredibly aged woman comes and collects Dong 6000 from us for the trip and we cross the river. Back onto the bikes for another 5 minute ride down a track to eventually arrive at the Durain Lodge. They weren’t expecting us…great! But we have paid, have the reciept. She gives us a nice cold beer while she sorts things out. Eventually it is sorted and we are shown our room…lovely! Mattress fine. AC. Nice shower..outside under the stars.
View from our room, surrounded by durian trees.
After a short rest we decide to venture out on a bike ride. Our host suggests it is “Ok, we don’t need a guide” she will give us a map. The map is very vague and involves three river crossings.
Never fear, what could possibly go wrong. Nothing really, except we took a ‘short cut’ and followed a road under construction. Lots of mud and machinery to negotiate. But we found our way through little villages, school kids in cute hats making their way home, saying “hello, hello”, a traditional funeral in a temple with amazing sounding Vietnamese drumming that almost sounded African, and a couple of pig farms.
And we made it back to the Durian Lodge. I don’t understand how the Vietnamese always look so clean (it was the same in Indonesia), when their surroundings are so muddy and not clean, we were certainly a bit grubby and sweaty. After a shower and clean up, we headed to a home cooked meal of pork and vegetables, beer and chat to Martin, the Austrian.
Two Basque men had also arrived out of the Mekong on their bikes for the night, not sure if they were expected either? Martin had already informed us that he and his wife are heading to Saigon tomorrow for the weekend and that we would be on our own. He said we could use the bikes and just make our way around to the local markets and whatever. His mother-in-law will cook whatever we want, we just have to point at the items on the menu so that she can buy the stuff from the market. We just need to show her when we take water or beer from the fridge. And everything will be fine. And now their are two Basque motorbike men. What do we do about them?