Cycling in Vietnam, crossing the Mekong Delta: My Tho to Tra Vinh
I awoke to the sounds of countless cockerels in the gardens of the homestay. The day started with a noodle breakfast overlooking the Mekong.
There seemed to be some cloud cover ahead and I wondered whether it would be slightly cooler today. No sooner had I thought this, the sun burned through the clouds and it was once again, sweltering. My cabin looked beautiful in the light!
I’d decided on a route that went along a peninsula southeast towards An Thuy, then I hoped there would be a ferry to take me across the water in the direction of Tra Vinh. It was a bit of a gamble as if I didn’t find the ferry, I’d have to pedal all the way back up to the main road.
I made my way back to the main road and had a busy, loud and pretty boring few miles to Ben Tre. Here I rode alongside a smiling young chap along the waterfront, bought and ate four oranges, then had iced coffee at a busy intersection.
Turning off the main road and onto the peninsual, there was a strong headwind. I managed however to get on the wheel of a couple of fellow travellers, stealing a draft without them even knowing (the Vietnamese never look behind them)!
I was 20 miles and crossing a rickety wooden bridge when my front pannier popped off. My front rack had come loose, but I didn’t have time to think as traffic was approaching from all angle. I grabbed the pannier then dashed under the nearest trees the other side of the bridge. The horns had started honking.
I’d feared that the pannier bolt had snapped, leaving the end of the bot inside the frame. Thankfully the bolt had just come loose and I had spares. After replacing the bolt I made the decision to periodically check each bolt on the bike, which I started right away!
It was tough going for the next few miles until I reached the dusty town of Ba Tri. Here I took a right along a track for a few miles, hoping that the ferry crossing was active.
To my delight, there were other ferry-goers awaiting the next ferry departure and so I bought a ticket and waited for a few minutes in the shade until we left.
Once we’d all disembarked I followed the main road to Huong My. On the map I could see that there was then a left turning towards my next ferry crossing, so took this. This road rapidly became a muddy track, alongside countless pigs squealed in the adjacent pig farms. This would officially be classed as mountain biking, but I persisted on, taking it steady of the huge potholes filled with banana leaves and branches.
There was suddenly a surge in oncoming traffic which I presumed was the arrival of the ferry. I panicked and sped over the divots and final few hundred metres, fearing that I’d miss the ferry.
As I pulled into the small port, the ferry had begun pulling away and was now ten metres offshore. Thankfully the captain saw me, sweating and covered in dust. He took instant pity and turned the ramp of the boat back towards the shore, allowing me to roll up. Simply amazing.
As I approached Tra Vinh, a few clothes factories were kicking out which meant twice the levels of scooters to contend with. One of which had a green polo shirt as staff uniform and had the slogan, “Making the world a greener place”. I was pretty sure this was a mixed message, and would certainly have them in hot water with Trading Standards in the UK.
As I approached some traffic lights, a food vendor caught my attention. A boy of maybe fourteen was sat surrounded by three open cardboard boxes, in which were three gas burners.
He was working very quickly, using special irons to create what looked like waffles, I had to try them…and wow I’m glad I did. They were the perfect treat at the end of a hot day in the saddle.
I arrived at my hotel, locked up my bike in the garage, and popped out for some delicious food in a roadside eatery, costing 35,000VND, or a little over £1. Bargain. The women took great delight in mocking me as I struggled with the pile of fresh herbs, chilli paste and noodles.