After a few days on the beach, Urs and I decide to move on, seek new adventures before we both leave Vietnam in a couple of days. To safe precious time, I pack my bike in the bag, and we take the morning bus to Ho Chi Minh City. We arrive just after noon, store our big bags in a guesthouse and rent us two motorbikes rather than booking a three day tourist tour. And escape the buzzing city towards the Mekong Delta with minimal luggage. My bike rattles and shakes if forced to go faster than 30 miles/h. Alright then – easy going. We spend the first night in Go Cong, a small charming town 50 miles East of My Tho. A man in front of a modern bicycle shop assembles a wheel for a new racer, nice work. More racer bicycles on the street, quite extraordinary.
On the next day, we ride randomly to the shore again, find a small ferry that brings us over the river to the next southern island in the Delta. Driven by compass directions and the low detail South-East-Asia map, we cruise small roads that soon turn into elevated unpaved trails between flooded tree plantations and ponds, crossing irrigation creeks on funny little bridges and finally reach a dead end – a ruin on the lonesome shore. A local comes by on his motorbike, talks a lot that we don't understand and asks us to follow. He shows us his being-build temple a few miles away on the shore, still in the swamps. A giant cargo ship crosses our views. Strange, surreal. Finding our way back, heading west to find a more suitable ferry to bring us more south – we ask a young lady at a a gas station. She will show us the way, she says, starts her motorbike and leads us through a clutter of narrow paved trails under the trees, with her mother and her baby daughter on her bike. Feels like riding through Garden Eden. We get our small motorboat ferry, no chance we would have found that port on our own! The skipper of the following ferry helps us maneuvering our scooters over the wobbly planks on his boat, drives us to the next island and almost dumps our bikes into the mud on the attempt to unload them. Meanwhile a 50 year old lady cannot help grabbing my bum. What a trip! We spend the night in Ben Tre, eventually get a better map for 50 Cents in a book shop.
On the following day, we stick to our strategy of random cruising beside the main roads, seeking a quite place in Garden Eden. On the western tip of the island north of Vinh Long, we spot the first tourist boat and few kilometers later, accidentally pass by a tourist information and home stay place. Down-to-Earth style has its price here, yet we don't mind – that's pretty much what we were looking for. A visit to the market, a Westerner on a motorbike stops by, asks us what we are up to. I'm looking for a fruit shake, I admit, and he invites the two of us into his home, a few kilometers away, in the middle of the green watery scenery. His name is Russon from Canada, he has been living here since 13 years and running fruit trading. And besides, he runs a home stay that is as much as not at all advertised. His wife spoils us with tasty shakes, beers and coffee with Baileys. What a treatment! Asking what we own him, he declines smilingly: “You just made my day”.
Time to head back via My Tho, some last miles in the low noise Garden Eden, some more miles along on really busy roads, wishing me Earplugs again. One more day back to Ho Chi Minh, one more day on side tracks, arriving at the right ferry ports rather accidentally. What a flow, what a feeling here in the Mekong Delta! Reaching ho Chi Minh City, we stop at an old nice temple, thanking the spirits of the Mekong for a great trip. Luckily, my rattling red scooter survived the slow pace trip without a single failure :-)
Travelers we talked to often disliked the sometimes expensive organized Mekong Exploration tours. So to say, roaming around on rented scooters was the greatest thing we could do...