Ben TreMarch 25 in Vietnam
When we woke up we did not have a clue where our next destination was going to to be but didn't think it was time to go back up northwards to HCMC so we asked our hotel owner and he suggested Ben Tre, which is where we had also read about. So we went to the bus station and bought a ticket. We thought it was quite expensive at the time of buying but the lady insisted on its price so we paid and then waited for the bus. After getting on the bus and speaking to a local Vietnamese we found out that we had been scammed. She tried arguing with the bus driver for us but we were told we would have to go back to the lady who sold us the ticket, but that the had to leave now so couldn't let us off. We were pretty annoyed as if you can't even trust the actual bus station for selling you the correct ticket then who can you trust! Ah well its all part of the adventure I suppose! And that wasn't the end of our adventures! Once we got to the bus station in Ben Tre we realised the hotel we booked was miles out of town... next mini adventure - how the bloody hell do we get there. We looked for a taxi and it was pretty expensive, luckily the Vietnamese lady we befriended came to our rescue again. She happened to live in the direction of our hotel and said we could catch the same bus. She checked with the bus man and everything was good... Phew! What we thought was going to be a simple 2 hour bus from Can Tho to Ben Tre turned out to be a 5 hour ride on 2 buses! I suppose it could have been worse but we were starving when we arrived at the hotel! The one time I really wish we were back at the homestay in Họ Chi Minh City and the lovely mum would take pity and cook us a big dinner! By the time we went out for dinner it was dark and this little village had barely anything open, so we just went to a tiny little stall and the noodle soup was soo tasty and unlike the others we've had. This one had quite a thick meaty gravy with Pork and other questionable meats. Most of the time the meat you are eating is unknown... On our way back to the hotel a lot of the locals invited us to drink with them at first we said no but then some mechanics convinced us to join. It was great fun, it's amazing how much you can discuss with broken Vietnamese, broken English and gesturing! We told them about our travels so far and where we are thinking of heading next. They even offered to rent their personal scooters to us for half price of our hotel but they didn't have automatic ones so we kindly declined. They were so lovely.
The next day we hired a scooter and went to Phung Island aka Phoenix Island well known for their Coconut Candy Factory. To get to the island we had to hire a boat. And here the adventures begin for the day... So we got to the pier and we were told it would cost 50,000 Đồng each. We knew this was a scam but we said we would pay half now and then we could see how much others paid after. So we got to the island which was nice and we wandered around, tried some coconut candy which actually tasted like peanuts, we cycled around the edge of the island and then got back on our boat to return. A few locals also got on with us and we asked them how much they paid and they confirmed it should only be 20,000 đồng each. Our pilot was yelling at the locals as she realised we knew she had scammed us. When we got off the boat she went ballistic. A Vietnamese girl was trying to help but gave up after a while so we just walked to our scooter to get out of the situation. To be honest we knew we were right as even the security guards didn't get involved. She followed us and stood next to the scooter to stop us going. To be honest in most situations we would just pay to get out of it but after being scammed yesterday as well we were getting a bit tired of it so we put the key in the bike and began turning it to move it out the way. She then sat on it and took our key. We shouted robber at her and to be honest the next bit was a bit of a blur but Will tried grabbing the key back and the lady tried pushing him off. (This lady was tiny so she knew she could never win this situation). She threw the key into a tiny cafe, Will leapt for his life onto a tiny chair, slipped and ended up toppling over another scooter. The lady ran off as she thought she'd hurt him and the cafe lady couldn't stop laughing at the whole situation. Honestly I wish I had filmed it! Luckily no one was hurt so in the end we could all just laugh about it. We quickly jumped on our scooter and cycled off!! We went to see another coconut factory on the mainland and also sat there for a while to calm down!! In the afternoon we just rode around the mainland and headed to the main town late afternoon where we heard they have a good night market. When we parked up we checked our lights and annoyingly they were barely working and cut out the bike so we had a coffee, did some Vietnamese and headed back to our village before dark. For dinner we tried Bún riêu and summer rolls and it was yummy! Then we headed to the mechanics shop again for our agreed beer session. Yesterday they wouldn't let us buy a single beer so this time we came with our personalised Heineken bottles as gifts. They loved them! We told them all about the fiasco from earlier and they were so nice and told us a lot of Vietnamese assume that all Westerners are rich and so scam them out of a lot of money. They told us to always threaten to get the police and they will generally go away. Anyway we were able to have a good laugh and it was a nice end to our stay in Ben Tre.
The next morning we decided to book a homestay about an hour away as we heard the owner was lovely and spoke English, so we wanted to use the time to get some advice on things to do in the area and also practise our Vietnamese. We stayed there two nights and finally got to go shopping at the local market and cook our own fresh food. We even cooked for Tri on the second night. Tri was so lovely he was always checking to see if he could help, in the evening he taught us some Vietnamese and told us all about his life and how he remembers the war etc
Today is Thursday 29th March and we decided to move on to Vung Tau which is a small beach town with a couple of hills at the south of Vietnam. Tri took us all the way to the Bus station (about 30 min ride by scooter) so he could make sure we get the right bus and aren't scammed! So off to Vung Tau we go!Read more