The Towns of the Mekong Delta – Ben Tre & Tra Vinh

After reaching Saigon I headed further south.  I started my journey in the Mekong Delta in southern China, where it is a river of a different name.  I have, five to six months later, finally reached the end of it.  This is the flattest part of the country with relatively good roads, leading to some fast motorcycling and getting lost very easily as I reached towns larger than I expected.

The first town I reached was Ben Tre, a land of coconuts.  The most amusing thing that happened to me was a mother and her child in front of me buying corn at the lady grilled it on the street.  She looked at me and started translating for me, telling me all about what I was eating and how much to pay.  She even tried to pay for me, telling me i must not have any Vietnamese dong!  Well, I’m not sure how she thought I got here but she certainly dispelled any notions I had that no one spoke English around here.

They’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts. Look at them sitting on the road, house, cart, motorbike, and [insert every possible surface here].

What I love about the lands of the Mekong is the slow pace of life.  There are not many awe inspiring tourist destinations but it’s really just about relaxing.

I spent an afternoon just watching puffy white clouds roll over the river.  I’m only a bowling hat short of a Magritte.

The towns were bustling and bigger than I expected after what I saw in Laos.  I think I liked the roads in between places more.  The biggest attraction for me was to ride around the provinces just observing things from the road and getting lost.  I’ll be selling the bike soon and I wanted to enjoy the last bit of road freedom.  I just wish it didn’t rain so darned much.

I saw stunning verdant rice field landscapes as I drove. If only the weather had kept up, it is rainy season now.

Tra Vinh is a city full of many small markets.  While guides mentioned a charming town with big streets lined with trees, I still found the town to be not more charming than Ben Tre.  I did partake in the bounty of fruit available all over the market.  A town is a great place to live and wander around for a bit but I did get tired of these rather quickly.  It was nice because I’ve gone for weeks now and only saw other foreigners two days, one of them in Ho Chi Minh City.  I had planned to visit more towns but I am beginning to see a sameness of the region and will be looping back faster.

Looking through a ferry window. A mother next to me saw I was a foreigner and happily talked to me about coming from Ho Chi Minh city and her baby giggled at me endlessly. It makes all the bridges I see on maps that end up being surprise ferries totally worth it.

Life on the Mekong seems to progress as it has for ages, a mix of Vietnamese, Khmer, and Chinese cultures slow rolling on a brown river.

Taking the slow boat for life.

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