Nov 27-28, 2014
Exploring Chau Doc, Vietnam
GPS waypoint: 10°40'36.3"N 105°04'41.8"E
Location: Chau Doc City, An Giang Province, Vietnam
Overnight Rest Stop
Tired from the long motorbike ride from Ha Tien, we finally arrived Chau Doc around 3:30pm. The group disbanded as the others proceeded to Saigon and the others to their hometown. Even though Chau Doc was only a stop-over, it was in the heart of the Mekong Delta and representative of the West's cultural life. Tuyen and I decided to stay a day more and explore the city.
Exploring the City
To our surprise, Chau Doc was quite expensive. Pho was VND 50,000, while normally in Saigon and other parts of Vietnam, Pho, the country's staple is only priced from 25-35,000. Lodging was also expensive. The city per se wasn't offering much either. The tours were expensive and from what we read, the newly developed floating market was designed more for the tourist than for any economic need of the city. As we walked around in the evening, the garbage was still on the streets - giving it a kind of a seedy underbelly feel. It was enough for us.
It's probably not fair to say Chau Doc is not a worthwhile destination as we have only been there 2 days, but we didn't really have the luxury of time in an expensive place. Instead of spending money on their floating market tour, Tuyen and I decided to go to Phung Hiep, the town where the 7 fingers of the Mekong River meet. But to reach Phung Hiep, we had to pass through Can Tho first.
- Sam Mountain - visit the Sam Mountain Lady, annual ceremony is held every April of lunar calendar, 7 km from the city, 1000 meters above sea level
- Phuoc Dien Temple - official historic monument of Vietnam
- Cham communities - take a boat trip across the river
- Saigon - buses to Saigon will take 6 hours, 250 km
- Phnom Penh - river cruise option, 5:30 hours travel time + 1:30 hours customs/immigration processing time, $25 one-way
- Can Tho - river boat option, 1:30 hours travel time, $39 one-way, min. 6 passengers
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- Vietnamese smokers used to smoke in air-conditioned establishments, air-conditioned buses packed with people including women, children and babies. But this habit seems to be changing now.
- Vietnam ranks almost the same as Thailand and Cambodia for cheap price. Laos, Myanmar and Malaysia cost more
- internet speed is generally fast and reliable but during important events like Tet holiday, election, etc., it slows down
- Vietnamese generally do not speak or understand much English. It will be a challenge.
- only Vietnamese Dong is accepted as legal tender (change your dollars into Dong)
- best to dress appropriately, not revealing too much skin (Saigon is an exception - the ladies there set the trend in very short shorts)
- remove your shoes when entering a home or place of worship
- ask first before taking someone's picture. If they say no, don't persist or offer money
- best to carry your hotel's business card with you when going out. You can just show it to the cab driver or XeOm driver if they don't understand English
- leave your valuables, passport, travel tickets, etc. with the hotel's safety deposit box
- when lying down, don't point your feet or the soles of your shoes to anyone or to a family altar
- carry only enough cash for your needs that day
- don't lose your temper in public - Vietnamese people are warm, generous and polite. They look down on people who lose their composure
- don't take pictures of military installations
- refrain from taking videos of minority people until permitted to do so
Nov 27-28, 2014
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