Today we will have a scheduled one-day tour in southern provinces of Vietnam. This tour was scheduled yesterday in a nearby travel agency found near our hotel. Actually, there were many tour agencies around Pham Ngu Lao street that offers various tour packages for a tourists... all you have to do as a first-timer in Vietnam is to choose which tour agency gives the best tour package at a right price. At 8:00am, we were picked up by the tour bus at the agency. Many people at the tour were Vietnamese and only few foreigners like us. At the bus we met Tiun (pronounced as "Tuan"), a local who were with his family and friends who are taking the opportunity to have a holiday trip.
|The highlight of the Mekong Journey - a paddle to the canals.|
|Ferry to Ben Tre province.|
After that, we ride again to the small motorized boat and went out of Ben Tre province to the station where we left the first ferry we rode earlier. It seems that bigger ferries cannot travel inside the narrow water canals of Ben Tre. Our ferry lead us to the Unicorn Island where we ate our free launch from the tour package. The restaurant was placed strategically under a fond of hyacinths with the background of the vast Mekong River. Then after a few minutes of rest, we proceeded to Tortoise Island. There is a large open cottage for an activity area in the center of the island. Me and my mom's colleagues seated in one of the tables inside the cottage. Then, we were served with cuts of local fruits like papaya, pineapple, dragon fruit (my first taste of this fruit) and mango while being serenaded by the local children in their Vietnamese folk music. The whole audience applause after the children finished singing.
To continue our tour, our tour guide told us to walk further inside the island where we saw many fruit gardens of many trees. We headed to the end of the road and lead us to what I really don’t expect to see! We headed to another canal, the Tan Thach Canal - where we will be taking a small paddled boat just like what I saw in a scene in Vietnam Rose! Vietnam Rose is a Philippine TV series that is partly shot in Vietnam and specifically in Tan Thach Canal! The canal is surrounded by many water coconuts that guides the paddled boat going through the canal. I quickly remember a scene that I saw in TV series because of the water coconuts lining the canal. My mom and Ate Yoly (my mom's colleague) excitedly hop first towards the paddled boat while talking that is what they saw too in Vietnam Rose TV series. I am also elated to experience the paddled-boat riding to the canal. I told my mom that we were like in a scene of "Vietnam Rose". Then the local who will paddle the boat gave us their famous native conical hat, Nón lá (leaf hat) which we excitedly wore. It is called "salakot" in our country. Wearing Nón lá only made me feel a deeper ambiance of being part of a scene in Vietnam Rose TV series. The local paddled us through the canal that was fully covered with water coconuts. It was a beautiful sight to see and a wonderful experience. While enjoying the sights of the water coconuts, my mom keeps on quoting the unique experience of being inside "Vietnam Rose." Maybe it is because of the amazement of the experience. I am too, also feel amaze to the experience of Tan Thach Canal tour. The trip crosses us to the Unicorn Island again and headed us to the floating station for a ferry ride back to My Tho City station. But before we got off the paddled boat we made sure that we got a souvenir picture with the paddled-boat while wearing Nón lá. After the souvenir shot, we cruise on with our ferry to My Tho City again via Mekong River.
|Paddling in Tan Thach Canal.|
|In tour bus with our new Vietnamese friend - Tiun.|
The sun shines brighter this time. It wasn't rainy anymore. I saw a ferry heading to Cambodia as told by the tour guide and from the distance I can see the city of My Tho. When arrive at the docking station we went to the bus again and drove us to a stopover in Bonsai Garden at 4pm. There we bid goodbye to Tiun, the local we befriend on the tour because their group is in a two-day tour. He was grateful that he met us. We also made sure that we have a souvenir photo with him. Then, we ride the bus that will head us back to Ho Chi Minh City. While passing through the highway, I wonderfully saw kite flying activities of the locals which also amazed the other tourists in the bus. I am very tired of the trip, though sleepy, I still try to have a good look of all the beautiful sights and places that we were passing through in the bus trip.
It was 5:30pm when we arrive in Ho Chi Minh City, the tour guide thanked us for joining the trip. I am soaked again to a wonderful scenery of Ho Chi Minh City as the bus passed through the city streets. Scooters crowds the streets. Old French architectures is evident in the city buildings. Girls wearing Ao Dai while driving a bicycle. And the daily life of Vietnamese people is all around. We were dropped by the tour agency and then we headed to our hotel to rest from a tiring whole day "field trip."
|Ho Chi Minh City at night.|
Vietnam Diary is a three part series story of my trip to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam last April 29 - May 1, 2006. I have reached the last retelling of my past travels as today I share the last story of my RetrotTravel series. Actually, this trip is a college graduation gift for me by my mom. This travel trip was a great exploration and discovery of the colorful culture, significant history and natural attraction wonders of Vietnam. I am narrating it via a diary format in which I tell the experiences I had their in my 3-day visit, exploration and discovery of Vietnam. Happy reading!
Read the other parts of Vietnam Diary: