Thursday, April 27, 2023

Ben Tre and the coconut

Having ample time left we decided to break up the ride to Ho Chi Minh City by stopping in Ben Tre.

The city of Ben Tre lies on a big island in the Mekong and is considered the coconut capital of Vietnam. Among its oddities is the so called Coconut Monk. A Buddhist monk who founded his own religion, the coconut religion. He only ate once a day and did only drink coconut water. ๐Ÿ˜†
He is long dead now (as well his religion) and where he used to live and meditate is now a weird mix of temple/restaurant/theme park with water games, wedding ceremonies as well crocodiles ๐Ÿคท‍♂️ 
The place is on Phoenix Island and can only be reached by boat or motorbike by using a little exit in the middle of the bridge crossing the Mekong. Was a funny drive ๐Ÿ˜„

Enjoying a coconut at the coconut monks place.

The temple part

Great A’Tuin?

The coconut monk 

Hihi penis

Crocodiles just meters away from the water games ๐Ÿซฃ

Most of the coconut gets processed, famous is the coconut candy. But also the husk get used as char coal or for carvings and the tree trunks for building.
Everywhere are huge piles of coconut husks

Coconut factory 

Coconut farms everywhere 

We slept at a homestay which has only three little cabins, each one different. Bamboo was my obvious choice even though due to the nature of bamboo the walls weren’t closed entirely ๐Ÿ˜…

We stayed in this nice bamboo hut ๐Ÿ˜Š

They also had this cool A frame. Also cool as in it had AC ๐Ÿ˜‚
And then it was time to continue to our final destination, Ho Chi Minh City. We decided to take a detour to see more of the Mekong delta.

More swallows nest farms

Fish farms using this paddle contraption to aerate the water

Many ferry crossings

Some of the canals are total overgrown 

And too soon we were in the crazy traffic of HCMC!

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Can Tho floating market

From Phu Quoc we took the express ferry to Rach Gia and then had a lovely ride along the canals of the Mekong delta to Can Tho. Again we went to bed early as the next morning at 5:00 our guide picked us up for the floating market tour ๐Ÿฅฑ

Sunrise was nice ๐Ÿ˜Š 

First we visited a little market for retail customers where they sold produce but there were also boats hawking coffee and snacks. 

Due to the low tide and being Monday there weren’t as many boats as usually. But also the improved roads have led to a decline of the whole floating market business as nowadays scooter and trucks are used for distribution.

After this we toured through the little canals which was tricky due to the low water level. 

We could feel the boat touching the ground sometimes


Preparing fish traps

Growing/catching water hyacinth
Living at the waters edge

Next stop was at a rice noodle factory. They spread the mix over some cloth with boiling water underneath. Then grab it with a kind of bamboo paddle and move it on some bamboo trays. These then get placed in the sun for drying and then shredded into thin noodles.




Trying to tear apart ๐Ÿ˜

By adding some different ingredients the color can be changed but all taste the same.

From here we went to the whole sale market, where bigger ships sell large quantities of goods. To advertise what they have a bamboo stick is used where they hang their produce. 
But first we got some breakfast, Ban Mih, Vietnamese sandwich ๐Ÿ˜‹


Snack boat

Pumpkin ship

Watermelon ship 

Turnip ship

We then boarded a ship full of pineapples to have a bite. 

Carving out the pineapple eyes

Final stop was at a garden with lots of plants and some snail and fish ponds.

Rose apple, eaten with chili and salt ๐Ÿ˜‹

Right next to it was a huge windowless building like we have seen often before but couldn’t figure out what it was. Our guide explained that it is a swallows nest farm, with the loudspeaker on top emitting fake swallows cries to attract the birds. They then nest inside which in turn get collected (the nests made from swallows spit, not the birds!) and are considered a delicacy ๐Ÿคท‍♂️

Swallows nest farm

Living fish on a stick ๐Ÿ˜ณ

It was a nice tour even though the many pieces of trash in the river were a sad sight ๐Ÿ˜” But the people don’t seem to learn, our boat had its propeller stuck four times by plastic bags and the captain each time threw it back in the water after untangling it!?! WTF ๐Ÿคฆ‍♂️๐Ÿคท‍♂️ 

That was it, we thanked our guide and headed further up the Mekong delta, by motorbike ๐Ÿ˜‰

Safety first

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Phu Quoc

Crossing back into Vietnam was no problem at all. Nobody cared about our motorbikes on the Cambodian side and the Vietnamese only asked about the Blue Card.

Right after the border we took the ferry to Phu Quoc, which took about 2.5-3h. The island has many beaches but most of it by now is (over) developed. With huge (sometimes unfinished) hotels. Nevertheless we enjoyed an (overpriced) sundowner by the beach.

Way too expensive but we weren’t back into calculating Vietnamese Dong to Swiss Francs ๐Ÿ™ˆ

The next day we drove to the south of the island, after fixing a flat tire on my bike… We had planned to take the cable car to some further south lying island and enjoy the view from above. Didn’t realized until we were there that this more or less the ride to the water park ๐Ÿ˜† But before reaching the cable car we drove through some ghost towns… The first was just a „normal“ looking one, where as the one around the cable car is in the style of the Italian Amalfi coast ๐Ÿคจ Sooo weird ๐Ÿคท‍♂️

Rows and rows of empty buildings

Sun Set Town

Wonder how many people take the stairs, there is an escalator right next door

Including fake well and fake clock tower 

Including painted on decay ๐Ÿ˜‚

The cable car obviously is built by Doppelmeyer ๐Ÿ˜‰ The ride was nice and gave a great (over) view of the area.

Where the locals live 

Pearl and fish farms

More farms

Had the gondola for ourselves on the ride back 

The empty high rises in the back are breaking with the theme ๐Ÿ˜‰

The water park was nice, sadly I wasn’t allowed on some rides as my hybrid shorts had zippers in the back and a button on the front ๐Ÿ˜ก๐Ÿ˜ข So Aaron had to do the free fall one by himself even though he didn’t want to ๐Ÿ˜„ There were some cool ones on rings and in one we were even airborne before going up a quarterpipe, Quite exciting but also exhausting ๐Ÿ˜…


Lazy river crossing through the whole park 

The free fall one where the floor would drop away

I lost that race ๐Ÿ˜”

Climbing the towers in the heat ๐Ÿฅต


Ice cream to go

That evening turned out quite late…. ๐Ÿซข 

Aaron in his new look
So the next day it was rather late until we finally left for the north of the island. And guess what, there is also an Italian themed ghost town! ๐Ÿ˜‚ This time it’s motto is Venice ๐Ÿ™ˆ

Including gondolas and everything 

This town at least had some shops open and more visitors

Right outside was a nice bamboo pavilion displaying some art. Didn’t care about the art but the bamboo structure was awesome! ๐Ÿ˜

All made out of bamboo 

The interior 

Right next to it was a fake Chinese town

Here they have some artistic shows

And further north is also a German looking row of houses. Empty and already decaying…

Our goal for the day was Starfish Beach. Famous for its many, you guessed it, star fish. Sadly the water was really murky and the sun started to set. Also only Aaron took a picture, more about this later…

Nice sunset

Piers with fish nets and platforms for eating 

Oddly there was a star fish on the road one the way back?!

So it was dark on our ride home and rather  bumpy. Not a problem until Aaron’s phone bounced out of its holder on the moto and directly got run over by the car behind him ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿคฆ‍♂️๐Ÿคฏ So no star fish pictures…

Just a scratch!

Almost back at the hotel I realized my tire was loosing air fast, again! ๐Ÿ˜ค
Pushing my bike in the general direction of the next mechanic a guy stopped and offered help. When he saw Aaron’s phone he first brought him to a phone repair shop, but sadly they didn’t have any iPhone Mini screens on stock.
Then he showed me the way to his mechanic friend. We would never have found that guy, squeezed in between a hotel entrance and a little shop he does his work. With just s small set of tools and an air compressor. When I told him that I had a flat tire the day before, he meticulously searched the tire and found a pice of thin wire stuck in it. He then cut open my old tube and used it as an additional protection inside the wheel. Great work!

All the tools he needs and probably has ๐Ÿ˜€

So we were ready for the 8 o’clock ferry the next morning ๐Ÿฅฑ