( 4.4 )
Chau Doc, Can Tho and more, Vietnam
Aug 22, 2004 09:32
Pros: stunning sceneries, friendly locals, modern infrastructure
Well, group tours are usually not my favourite way to travel, and
I've sworn several times that I won't go on one again. Well, Vietnam
will be curing me of that oath fairly quickly. As the LP says time
and time again, the only way to go places and see things here cheaper
than a tour is by walking.
So I opted for a 3-day boat+bus tour of the Mekong delta region
as a way to get from Phnom Penh to Saigon (aka Ho Chi Minh City,
aka HCMC). All-in-all it was fine and I got to meet some very nice
people and see quite a bit in the 3 days, so mission accomplished.
I did get reminded (again) of how much it really irks me to be part
of a group trudging en masse from sight to sight, eating and sitting
and looking and peeing when they tell you to, but at least it was
only 3 days. :)
The delta area is stunning, with canals everywhere you turn and
of course boats up the wazoo. People were very friendly, mostly
because it's not such a touristed area yet. We saw the requisite
temples, floating markets and Cham (ethnic minority related to Khmers)
villages, locals weaving stuff, kids playing strange games with
flip-flops (a SE Asian specialty?), markets, rice mills and fish
farms, so it was quite a good basic intro to the area for a short
amount of time--and there's the beauty of a tour.
One of the most striking things about Vietnam for me so far (besides
how beautiful it is) is the HUGE difference between here and Lao
and Cambodia. Having just come thru the last two, it's so obvious
that they are the poor, unpopulated and wild (as in the land, not
the people--as far as I could tell, anyway!) cousins in the region--along
with Vietnam/Burma of course. Thailand and Vietnam are the golden
geese powerhouses as far as development, infrastructure, economics,
standard of living, population and tourism go. There are so many
people here (something like 80 million, compared to less than 10
each for Cambo and Lao), and they're all beeping at each other.
:) The roads here are good and big and they have lanes. People don't
always stay in the lanes, but at least the lines are there for reference!
And everything from the houses to the cars and motorbikes and clothes
are much more maintained and in working order. It's a strange transition,
and I wonder what my impressions would have been like to go the
other way, from Thailand and here to Cambo and Lao?
Next, I explore the mad rush in Saigon/HCMC...