My trip to Cambodia started with a 3 day/2 night bus/boat tour through the Mekong Delta. Before the trip I was picturing “Apocalypse Now” in my mind but reality was much different. Far from just water and rice paddies, the delta is a thriving farmland economy with cities and towns much larger than I imagined (think Iowa on water). I luckily considered the “tour” to be my transportation to Cambodia and it was a good thing I did because, as far as a journey goes, it was pretty comical.
Day one was spent heading from Saigon to the Delta where we got on a boat to view a floating market, coconut candy makers, honey makers, and local singers. Each stop lasted five minutes, ended with them trying to sell you something, and left you wondering WTF? The night was spent in a hotel in a decent size city with high rises and bustling traffic that we were able to wander and explore.
Day two included a larger floating market, a rice paper and noodle factory (small family operation), a rice processing factory, and the world renown Vietnam crocodile farm (who knew?). Well…actually the crocodile farm got canceled because evidently 50 crocodiles escaped the night before and the police had cordoned off the area. So much so, our bus that was heading further into the Delta had to take a 1 hour detour around the escape zone. That evening was spent battling mosquitoes at an infested hotel, laughing about the great crocodile escape of 2014, and more WTF contemplation about the tour.
Day three was the day I was excited about. Finally, several hours of boat time heading up the Mekong river to Dam Bam or Kam Kong or wherever. Me, standing on the front of the boat, wind in my hair, and the “Ride of the Valkyries” playing in the background. Sooooo,…not so much.
After sitting around waiting for two hours the boat finally arrived. Finally, time to que up the Valkyries…nope. As we started, a fishing net got tangled in the motor and we crippled along the river a few hours until it finally delivered us to the border. We then waited another three hours for our next boat. This next one was the final boat, the final leg, that was to take us from the border to Phnom Penh. OK, re-que the Valkyries. Well, half way to the capital city, while cruising right up the middle of the Mekong, I stepped to the front of the boat, felt the wind in my hair, and…the boat’s engine blew. After floating a bit and then getting towed to shore, we all took our backpacks, hiked across a small farm to a road, and waited for a couple minivans to pick us up, to complete our journey to Phnom Penh.
So, while basically useless as a tour, I got to see the Mekong Delta, it got me to my destination, and it gave me some good humor along the way, so as transportation goes, it was pretty good.