Mekong Delta and our first sleeper train

We spent our second day in Saigon/HCM on a day trip out to the Mekong Delta – My Tho and Ben Tre.
We arranged this on arrival the day before with our hotel, Hoang Phu Gia, for 325.000 per person. Our guide, Viet of Kim Travel, picked us up at 730am, where we then picked up a few other people from surrounding hotels, to make our small group of 10.

The drive to the boat to take us across to Unicorn Island didn’t seem that long, after a funny intro banter from our guide, I rested my eyes and listened to Soundgarden for most of it.
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Upon arrival at the docks we boarded our little boat on the river..
We took a leisurely ride to our first stop at a honey/bee factory of sorts.They made us a delicious honey tea with bee pollen and showed us Royal Jelly ointment.
There were also two very large snakes that people held to get photos with (I made Steph do it because, honestly, snakes creep me out a little-I don’t really want to touch them). It made me sad though seeing the tiny cage they were kept in and I really hope they don’t live in that all the time..
Moving on from the honey place we went on a smaller boat to another part of the island where we were serenaded by some traditional musicians and ate some fruit. We then walked through to some of the rivers canals and hopped on little gondola boats and got taken on a scenic journey through them, which despite there being only tourists doing it, was really enjoyable and pretty.
As the canal exited into the river, we we hopped in the boat again and headed to the coconut candy factory. The smell was a bit overwhelming but it was interesting to see how they made it. It was way too sweet for me to buy any. They also had snake wine, huge jars filled with wine and a preserved snake … The American guy in our group tried it but I don’t think anyone else did!

We took another smaller boat down another canal part of the river into the island to where we were going to have lunch. The lunch setting had hammocks and bicycles to ride as a basic meal of rice vegetable and spring rolls (chicken for the others) was included. Others also ordered off the menu, American guy got a whole fish (complete with eyes and teeth) which came with rice paper and herbs/vermicelli for making rolls.
After lunch we attempted a bicycle ride round the island. My bike turned out to have a flat tire, so American guy gave me his, which was far too tall for me. It made for an amusing ride to say the least. Post bike ride = hammock time, and after this we headed back to the main boat to catch the bus home. On which I napped.
IMG_4651We had paid an extra 250.000 or so to have the room till 6pm, so luckily we arrived back quite early at 4:30 and had showers and went on a mission to find food and snacks for the journey. We bought grilled corn cobs from a street vendor, which we later discovered is a chewy strange glutinous corn different from the standard corn at home.
I also found a Banh Mi sans meat and that was my meal!
We also found a fast food place “Lotteria” which amazingly has soy bean chicken! But sadly they were not serving it 🙁
The train was actually a lot nicer than expected as I think we got the “tourist” carriage or the nicer one.
Even the toilets weren’t horrifying as I expected them to be.
I think I was one of the only people who managed to sleep kind of decently on the train, though the 430 am arrival was still unpleasant!
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