Mekong Homestay Part 1

A new place being built

I arrived in Saigonat 11
pm and caught a taxi to a hotel that a friend reserved for me. This was a place
that many expats rent monthly and I was a bit surprised at the state of the
room. It was a decent set up with everything a person could need for long term
stay, but It looked like the room had not been cleaned in weeks. When I
returned from the Mekong, I stayed there
another night to be close to my friend, and was again surprised that the bed was
unmade and obvious that someone had slept in it previously. Perhaps it would be
an ok place if staying long term and you cleaned yourself, but for short term
stays….. no thank you! Anyway….. Please keep in mind that these are my
opinions. Even though I work in the tourism sector, I enjoy and want others to
enjoy a more real Vietnam
and not manufactured tourist facilities.

Our boat

Nghia and Hau arrived to pick me up at 9 am. I was expecting
to be headed straight to Can Tho to inspect a particular homestay that had been
raved about on a travel forum, but to my surprise we headed south. We travelled
through Vinh Long and down to Ben Tre. This was to be our first stop and
inspection. The Launch point for our river boat was from a riverside restaurant
in the town of Ben Tre.
I was taken aback at the amount of tourists that were being herded into boats
to head down river. It is slow season so I cannot imagine how touristy this
place may be in busy season. The three of us had our own boat, so we did not
have to push through crowds. The craft operator chugged towards a brick factory
that was already busy with visitors, and we asked him not to stop at any of the
local attractions (as we have been to so many in the past) and head straight to
the homestay. Along the way we passed a new homestay (more like a small resort
from the look of it) being built by a local tour operator that is right on the
tourist trail. It is probably a good business decision, but probably a place I
would not stay myself. From where the craft landed, we had a choice of bicycle
or motorcycle taxi to go to the homestay. Pressed for time we rode in a wagon
like box attached to a motorcycle through very picturesque areas until we
arrived at the homestay. It was laid out as a large restaurant area with a dormitory
like building in the back for people to stay. They were constructing a building
with rooms across the road and as we approached for inspection, dogs from the
residence next door raced up angrily barking and making all sorts of noise. Oops….
With the toilet being in a separate building, I cannot see people getting a
good nights sleep. Lunch was good with the typical Elephant Ear fish. As we
were finishing the boat loads of other tourists started arriving on bicycles
for lunch. I do not know if they were to be overnight guests. We returned to
Ben Tre with the thought that even though it was a nice area to visit, it was
far to busy to offer the kind of homestay many people want. Perhaps spending
the day in the area before returning to The Vinh Long homestay (more on that
later) would be the way to go if I was guiding the tour. Back in the car we
hopped and headed for the town of Tra
Vinh. I had never Ben and the area was supposed to be comprised
from mainly Cambodian immigrants, and their influence was everywhere. We spent
the late afternoon exploring the area. The town is surrounded by temples that
are built as they are in Cambodia,
and if I did not know better, I would say that is where I was. We were having a
little difficulty finding a hotel that was a decent standard. After driving
around a bit we found the 3 star Cuu Long ( a government run hotel) When we
were enquiring about the prices, we were told that my two Vietnamese companions
would only need to pay half the price I would be required to pay. The
receptionist must have assumed that I did not understand Vietnamese, and she
was a bit taken aback that I became irritated and told her that is she or her
family ever came to Nha Trang and stayed in my hotel, that I would charge her
double because she is Vietnamese.

To her credit, she got the point and lowered the price to a
reasonable rate, but in the end, the three amigos elected in taking a triple
room. (I feel sorry for Nghia as I am a snorer and he is a light sleeper.) After
dinner, Hau retired early leaving Nghia on our own to find something to do. This
is a small place and we were told everything was closed by 9pm…. Not so!! We were
able to find a coffee shop that had cold beer and after relaxing and talking a
bit, we headed across the street to see what some fuss and noise was all about.
Huh….. Imagine that….. It was yet another Ladyboy review. This was about the 6th
different town or city where I encountered such a think. They were on stage
belting out Karaoke songs and playing gambling games to raise money. Nghia and
I decided to join the fun and purchased cards for a bingo like game. The people
were thrilled to have a foreigner playing with them and the ladyboys were
calling out how much they loved me. It was all in good fun and. Tra Vinh is an
interesting place to visit is you want to be off the tourist path, but do not
expect any English service anywhere.

Next post will more on Ladyboys “Vietnamstyle” and off to the  Can Tho homestay that I have read about in the
travel forums.

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Tour designer and Guide specializing in off the beaten track tours of Vietnam

3 thoughts on “Mekong Homestay Part 1

  1. Yes, the Ladyboys should at least shave their legs and armpits, that’s a real turn-off to me.

    Phuong and I have run into the room price thing more than once, and it’s usually not posted in reception. It’s a dead give away when they look at me before telling the price. When there is a ‘different price’ posted we just go to another guest house or keep going for a while.

    Of course you know that I do not rent motorbikes to Vn Nationals. One guy from Saigon really got his back in the air so I said ‘Ok, you can have one for 1,000,000d a day, paid in advance’. Was going to give him my old one anyway. He didn’t like that idea much…xin loi em!!

  2. I look forward to reading each of your Posts as we are off to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos next year. Hau has organised our tour for us, so I hope he has found some new and interesting places to take us while in the Delta area.

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