Sunday, August 19, 2018

Mekong Delta Day 8 - An Binh Island to My Tho

A memorable stay at Nam Thanh Homestay together with the host Huen, his wife Hien and younger brother.
Prior to the departure from the homestay I had the chance to wash my bicycle after the muddy trail encountered on the previous day.
One more picture at the main gate of the homestay before we set on for our journey.
Bye bye An Binh a place with road that is narrow and good enough for motorists and bicycles.
Our first stop for the day was at Chua Yien Chao Temple near An Binh Ferry Terminal which we came into the island.
 We have recced on this route a day earlier to ensure that the ferry terminal to Cai Be is found.
After 9km we reached the ferry terminal there were people waiting for the boat some together with their goods such longan, rambutan and others.
A sign of Happy Family Guesthouse was seen at the ferry terminal, the guesthouse that we met the helpful lady who gave the direction to this ferry terminal.
The river where we will be expecting a ferry to board and bring us to our next ground for us to continue our cycling journey.
We were waiting at this shop infront of the terminal. When I came back to Malaysia I was told by Huan that the lady selling sugar juice in the shop was his student, she speaks English and was helpful to ensure that there will be a ferry going to Cai Be.
Finally the ferry came and we were happy to board it together with the local commuters.
The distance of this boat ride took about 2km starting from a small canal into and across Mekong River before arriving at another smaller canal for disembarkation. 
The boatman told us to disembark at this location GPS : 10.330617, 106.003332 which is near a temple known as Khan Chau Temple.
And off we went towards our direction to the floating market of Cai Be.
 Having reached Cai Be town and we were eager to find the floating market and got help from the local for its direction.
I guess the floating market is over publicised which I was disappointed to see that there was hardly any marketing activity but merely boats. Maybe it's seasonal which I am not sure. If one wishes to visit I would suggest one to double check it before you decided to go.
We went checking on both sides of the rivers cycling along the narrow pathway only seeing many shops and stalls mostly selling souvenir items and yes there were a few of tourists seen.
We had fun taking pictures with the local children and its rustic surrounding.
We proceeded heading towards My Tho using Route DT864 with a couple of detours for bridge construction.
One of the few temporary bridges we crossed during this ride.
Somewhere at Hội Xuân, Cai Lậy, Tiền Giang, GPS : 10.324570, 106.081969 we stopped by for our lunch. The food operator was friendly and we had a satisfactory meal.
Though it was late we managed to get some food.
Opposite the food stall I saw durian and I could not resist myself but to buy a fruit. This one was not as good as the previous one we tried at Ben Tre.
Fenn and Sooi Ying were enjoying their Vietnamese durian.
The rain came intermittently which it did not deter us from moving on.
A stop for sinh to (fruit shake) at the fringe of My Tho, GPS : 10.351901, 106.349440
A view from the hotel room at Rach Mieu Bridge spanning across Mekong River. It was Hotel Rang Dong Riverside that we checked in for the night. Located at the boulevard of Houang Sa GPS : 10.348097, 106.345553
On Day 8 we covered a distance of 56km to My Tho including a ferry ride from An Binh Island to somewhere near Cai Be.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Mekong Delta Day 7 - Vinh Long to An Binh Island

We checked out from the hotel at about 7.00am with Cai Be as our next destination for the day. The distance to Cai Be is relatively short hence we have the luxury of time to explore the city of Vinh Long.
We decided to visit the local market and hopefully we could find a good breakfast there.
Vinh Long Market is a busy and robust market and the food section is equally interesting. We parked our bicycles at the side of a narrow alley and found a corner that was big enough to accommodate all of us. Without wasting much time we went exploring the food, all looking so appealing and enticing my tummy was already growling.
The food operators were friendly we tried a variety of their tasty food and there were so many more to savour but we just couldn't take it all.
Vietnamese fresh springrolls and other interesting food right in front of us where we were sitting.
My choice of pho (again) this time was with fish and meat. Like I said before it never fail to disappoint my taste buds. It was truly delicious.
From the market we saw a silhouette image of a suspended bridge that aroused our curiosity.
Bach Dang Bridge of Vinh Long City crossing Long Ho River
One for the record at the river side of Song Long Ho.
After crossing the bridge we went nosing around the narrow alleys of Vinh Long in search for places of interest.
We found a Buddhist temple called Long Thien Temple located at Nguyễn Chí Thanh Road GPS : 10.256068, 105.976368. We asked the caretaker whether we can enter the temple. 
The caretaker invited us in and locked up the main gate to ensure that our bicycles are safe while we were in the building.
Joe striking the hanging bell which was loud and could be heard from a distance.
The temple is surprisingly big with a court yard in the centre under renovation.
Initially I thought this was a Tourist Information Centre as I saw some tourism posters hanging at the perimeter fencing. It turned out to be a War Museum, nevertheless I enquired as to where we could go for a boat ride around the Mekong Delta.
This is what I meant about the enquiry of such visit. A gentleman told me to go to the opposite of the road, take a ferry and check out the place for such activity.
The ferry terminal was packed with motorists we were at the back of the queue. By the way the name of this terminal is An Binh Ferry Terminal.
We were regularly approached by lottery ladies to buy the local lottery.
At the back of the sheltered terminal and getting ready to board the ferry.
Here we were about to board the ferry with so many motorists inching into the ferry.
Within 10 minutes we have reached An Binh Island without any plan in mind.
It was all jammed up at the payment counter waiting for their turns to pay the fare.
The last batch of motorists vacating from the ferry into the island.
The route at this part of the island is narrow constructed of concrete slab which car or similar vehicles can not be accommodated.
Initially we just wanted to enquire for a boat ride around the area but we changed our minds and abort the idea to cycle to Cai Be to stay at this homestay known as Nam Thanh Homestay. GPS : 10.264683, 105.966581

The damages for six of us for a boat trip, one night stay at the homestay inclusive of a dinner and breakfast. Usage of bicycle is free of charge if one wishes to ride around the vicinity.
 We eventually found ourselves going for the boat ride after checking into the homestay. The boatman was Mr. Huan's brother in-law and he will be ferrying around Song Ko Chien River.
It started with a little bit of rain and it's only for a short period and all of us looking forward for the boat ride and its visits.

The places we stopped by were like this outlet making of Vietnamese popped rice. 
There were couple of boats busy ferrying tourists to these river side outlets.
Coconut candy making is popular in Vietnam and known as kẹo dừa coconut candy. 
Hopping from one jetty to another visiting some of the local cottage industry in the surrounding.
This time we will be visiting a bee honey farm.
Hai Noung, the bee honey farm
Posing with a tray of bee hives with no worry of any bee sting.
Finally we were back to the spot we boarded the boat near the honestay and it's time to walk back to Nam Thanh Homestay.
On our way back to the homestay from the boat drop-off point with a sign indicating the direction and distance away.
Our lunch at Han Thanh Homestay with some fried noodles and braised chicken. These were ala carte dishes ordered from its menu.
After the lunch we took our bicycle to explore An Binh Island and also we wanted to check a ferry terminal which is able to connect to Cai Be.
Our first kilometre on the island we saw a church but could not gain entry into the church hence we proceeded with our ride.
We have lost at one time and were cycling on difficult road surfaces. We were worried whether we will be in time for our dinner appointment. We have to back by 7pm to help in the homestay cooking as part of the homestay avtivities. 
This lady was so helpful and gave us the direction to the ferry terminal and a hand written note for the local on our search of the terminal. Thank you so much Ms. Hin from Happy Family Guesthouse (Thuyan's House). Located at GPS : 10.324056, 105.983196
The note she gave us for the local to assist us in our search.
The ferry terminal which we missed which we actually passed by before we lost and ended up at Happy Family Guesthouse. The location of this ferry terminal is GPS : 10.310929, 105.998641
The spring rolls we rolled before they were being deep fried for dinner.
A chance to cook our own pancake called banh xeo with chicken shredded meat as the main ingredient in the pancake.
A demonstration to show how it was done before we could laid our hands on the wok.
Standing fried elephant ear fish.
At last we have our dinner in a nice and cosy setting in the island of An Binh.
My bed in a non air condition room for the night.
The route we chartered from Vinh Long to An Binh Island for a distance of 30km.