Not wanting to do a ten hour travel day to get to our next destination, Ho Chi Minh City, we decided to stay the night in Vinh Long. It's a city in the heart of the delta and a great place to explore the islands found on the Mekong. While checking into our guesthouse a women approached us about a boat tour. We really enjoyed our last one and so we thought "why not?" We agreed that the motor boat would take us around the islands, a smaller paddle boat would take us through the narrower canals, it would last about four hours.
At dawn we reluctantly rolled out of bed, came downstairs and found our wide awake guide waiting for us on the sidewalk wearing a partially toothless, cigarette clad grin. He spoke no English and our Vietnamese is limited to hello, goodbye, thanks and the ever important cafe sua da (iced coffee with milk). Exchanging names, his was Thao, was the last vocalized communication we would understand from one another. The rest of the morning we used rudimentary hand gestures that closely resembled a game of charades played by five year olds.
The ride started out going through a narrow canal.
After about twenty minutes we pulled up to a large home that was adorned with a PRIVATE sign. We thought maybe Thao needed to get something, but he gestured for us to get out of the boat. We were greeting at the gate by a sleepy woman with a puzzled expression. After exchanging a few words, a smiling Thao made a grand sweeping motion with his hand and then in front of his eyes made a rectangular shape with his fingers and acted as if he were pushing a button with his index finger. We took this to mean"Look around, take some photos." The place was beautiful, but we were befuddled. Not knowing what else to do we oooohed and ahhhhed and I took some pictures.
For an hour we walked on a well trodden path to what seemed to be other private homes. When we returned to the canal a women with a row boat and two conical hats was waiting on us. Thao motioned for us to go with her and took off with the motor boat the same way we came. To our surprise we followed him back down the same canal.
Twenty minutes later we were back with Thao, on to our next undisclosed destination. We ended up at an empty restaurant in a resort where no on seemed to be expecting us. Some tea and snacks eventually showed up. I ate in silence while Pete and Thao smoked some cigarettes. Every once in a while Pete and I would exchange a confused, eyebrow furrowed glance.
Highlight of the restaurant stop was this little dude
After two hours traveling up and down the same canal and an hour spent standing around not knowing what to do we found ourselves back at our hotel saying our goodbyes to Thao.
In front of our hotel.These guys were really excited about having thier picture taken.
Although we did not get exactly what we paid for, we had nothing to complain about. How can you grouse about being chauffered around a winsome foreign country on a boat. We have found that in SE asia; whether it be the food, the public transportation, the condition of a bathroom, or a boat tour you just never know what you are going to get. You just have to say "To hell with it" and go to the flow.