After a recent tour, I was witness to events that now have me convinced that V’Explore Travel may be the best tour company in Vietnam if not one of the best.
I will get to the story in a moment bit For those that know me……. I have been driving motorcycles more than 40 years and in all that time, I have never been involved in a collision. Sure I was foolish in my youth and whiped out a few times, but never an accident until now…. On returning home from shopping, I rounded a curve to a head on situation. Both of us were in the centre of the lane. No Problem… I veered to the right as she should have done, but for some reason I cannot fathom, she veered left directly for a head on!! AAAAggghhh!!! I Had an automatic scooter which is less responsive than manual and I laid it down with brakes locked wearing shorts and a tee shirt. OOOOOOuch! I am now suffering from extreme road rash on my right leg and arm. I will live, but the day tour I did yesterday took all of my self control to do. I should probably have canceled, but my customers come 1st……. This leads me to my tour with V’Explore management. There is an area in the southernmost point of Vietnam where I have never been. The owner and General Manager of V’Explore became my very good friends after an emergency. I was using them as my tour company in 2009 when a friend passed away in Hanoi. I wanted to meet the people who dealt with the emergency and the rest is history. I often now will go on adventures when we have time to new destinations in order to try to build new tours and offer travel alternatives different from all the mainstream packages. We set out together on a new adventure. Our Destination is Dat Mui, Vietnam’s most southerly point. The Three amigos plus a visiting friend (Afoun) headed by motorcycle through Vinh Long, bypassing Can Tho and finishing in Ca Mau. Ca Mau is an interesting place to me…. Very flat, slow to modernize, and has some very interesting local business. We stayed in a large 3 star hotel with very few customers. The day was a long one and our rear ends weary. After dinner and a few cold ones we returned to the hotel passing almost endless massage shops with dozens of beautiful women waiting for customers…. WOW!! Looks like massage is big business in Ca Mau. (wink wink) The nest morning we mounted our trusty steeds and rode the final 60 km to the town of Nam Can. Here the road ended at a river. On the drive up we were accosted by many on motorcycles trying to sell one of the few services available…. A ride through the canals to Dat Mui, our final destination. Our bikes parked, I stood and watched as Nghia and Hau negotiated passage to the bottom of Vietnam. There were a number of different boats. Some covered, some wide bodied and some that looked like long canoes. The canoes looked uncomfortable as there were no seats or railing to sit. A person would have to ride for 2 hours sitting on the floor… I hoped we were not travelling in one of those…….If I had hair, it would be standing on end as I bounced along top the muddy water sitting on the floor of a speed canoe traveling at 60 kph. Until that moment I had no idea how fast 60 is. It did not matter if it was a 100m river or a 1m canal….. along we zoomed. we even got stuck in a narrow spot at one point. The ride was exciting and interesting and with gritted teeth and puckered but we had arrived. Dat Mui park was opened in 2007 but sadly it has already fallen into ruin due to no maintenance. It is an area choked with mangroves with mud skippers and colorful crabs scurrying everywhere. Pretty cool to see but I think a trip to this place is only for the most adventurous at heart. I would not recommend it to most.
After lunch and a nail bighting ride back, we mounted our bikes and headed back to Saigon. We had plans to spend the night in Can Tho until ring….ring….. V’Explore Travel was faced with an emergency!! On tours to Myanmar, companies are not able to arrange visas on behalf of the clients. Perhaps the clients did not read all of the requirements or perhaps there was a communication issue… It does not matter. A tour companies worst nightmare!! Clients arrived in a country by air but were denied entry due to no travel Visa. Aaaaaaaaahhhhh!! The owner of V’Explore was looking in disbelief as he heard the news. Here we were in the middle of nowhere with many kms to go and I stood silently impressed with what I was witnessing. Like a man in a war room, Nghia made numerous phone calls delegating authority to people to perform certain tasks from working with airlines, instructing guides, and dealing with Vietnam and Myanmar immigration…. All of it after hours. Hau
was in contact with guides and others to make sure they were aware of how to deal with the situation. What I saw were men committed 100% to their clients and not stopping at any inconvenience or cost to make everything ok. Every 10 minutes or so we would have to stop to answer calls putting us so far behind, that we had to change our destination to Bac Lieu to overnight breaking one of my number one rules……. Never drive on Vietnam highways at night. We arrived very late and only had time for dinner before returning to our room exhausted. It was 10:15 pm and I asked in the hotel restaurant for 2 cold beers to take to my room. To my frustration, the employee that had the key for the beer fridge had gone home. After 10 pm nobody is awake in this city except for 1 place…… after 30 minutes af finding no stores open with cold drinks, I found a disco. They happily provided me with 2 beers for a whopping 8 dollars each…. Egad! Sooo…. I returned to the hotel empty handed and pissed off. The following morning the emergency was settled. Tickets were changed, itinerary modified, and visas issued. Everything was back on track and the customers happy. I imagine that this trip will work out to a financial loss but as they and I agree…… our reputations and customers satisfaction id the most important thing. It is because
of this ideal and the actions of the management that I do truly believe that V’Explore Travel is most likely the best tour company in Vietnam.