I was surprised when I arrived in Ho Chi Minh, it was strangely comfortable and familiar. Not much has changed since the last time I was here over a year ago. The traffic is still functionally crazy, horns blasting, buses, cars and bikes going all directions, some how avoiding what appeared to be the inevitable collision, the magic of the horn which seems to activate some kind of forcefield. I got to my hotel and typical of Vietnam, my room is having maintenance and I have a room at their other hotel on the otherside of town, I might as well get reacquainted the traffic.
I survived my first day on the bike and the ride out of Ho Chi Minh, part of me loves the thrill of it, it surely is mental. I arrived in My Tho 5 hours, two coffees, one coconut and a little bit of sunburn later. I found a place to stay, cheap with a rock hard bed and a restaurant next door, what more could a girl want! As i sat and waited for my food, the waitress approached me with Google translate on her mobile saying “he want to get you a glass”. I naturally thought it was for the beer that i was having, I had declined to use the glass and ice I was given and opted to drink straight out the bottle, if they really want me to have a glass then thats fine, so I agreed. Turns out one of the rather rowdy and slightly intoxicated men at the next table wanted me to share a drink with him, over he comes with two glasses of what looks like red wine with ice in it, he hands one to me, he clinks my glass with his and bottoms up, Cab sav shots apparently, I went to sip mine, but no, it appears skulling is the ritual, down the hatch it goes. Now i have just ridden 70km, and I am starving, and I have had a beer so I am starting to feel a little tipsy and beginning to wonder if that wasn’t some pre-dating ritual or if I am going to find myself married or something. I think I need to eat and get out of there.
Once i was safely back in the hotel and thankfully unattached I was approached by an overly enthusiastic tour guide, yes I think I am the only tourist in town., I know I am the only guest in the hotel. He tells me he will take me on a boat to an island or two followed by a sunset cruise on the Mekong, “20 dollar, cheap”. Maybe my guard was down from the beer and red wine shots but what the hell, lets do it, $20 is not cheap. Well it truly was a private tour, I was the only tourist on the boat, I wonder if he stole the boat?
Now the tour was fine, the Mekong is no ordinary river, it’s huge, more like an estuary than a river, the wind was blowing and there were waves, at times I was a little worried we were going to capsize and I had concerns about the skippering abilities of the multi tasking tour guide, and I thought it was going to be a relaxing meander down the river.