ALL DAY TRIP TO MỸ THO - MEKONG DELTA
Hash Flashers: Chippy, Have-A-Chat, Snapshot
Run 1049 marked another milestone in the long history of VTH3 - the first all day trip to Mỹ Tho on the Mekong Delta.
With alarm clocks set to an ungodly hour - a time when a few of our members would normally just be getting home from a night out - we met at Nắng Vũng Tàu at 5:30am. With most people having prepaid, it was a simple case of boarding the bus and making sure all Hashers were present and correct. The last bleary eyed couple arrived at 5:55am and by 6am we were on our way.
Our trusty bus driver, Mr. An, takes us out of Vung Tau still under the cover of darkness and after a couple of stops at Sea View and Ba-Ria to collect the final Hashers our team of 48 is complete. There is not a lot of traffic as we hurtle towards HCM at a great pace. We stopped briefly just as the sun was coming up to fill the eskies of soft drinks and Saigon Chill with ice. As we approached HCM we made our first pitstop - time to top up with coffee and stretch our legs before hitting the highway that will take us down towards Bến Tre province.
After one more stop we arrived at our destination at 10:30am - a very modern looking boat terminal on the side of the Mekong. We are greeted by our English speaking guide, Ms. Oanh, we gather around her and she explains our itinerary for the day. First and foremost - we must follow her at all times! It’s high season at this time and it will be very busy. Ms. Oanh then explains that we will take a large boat to the first island, Con Lan or Unicorn Island, where the activities will begin. On Con Lan we will enjoy a multitude of cultural experiences followed by a ride in some smaller boats. She emphasises that the rules for these boats are - five Vietnamese per boat but only four foreigners, apparently for obvious reasons(!). After the small boat ride we will be back on the large boat which will take us to the next island Con Phung or Phoenix Island where we will have lunch. After lunch we’ll be free to do our Hash thing - a 5km walk along the Mekong. After the walk we’ll meet at the restaurant and take the boat back to the terminal where we will return to the bus.
So it's On-On to the first boat of the day and a short trip to Unicorn Island. As soon as we disembark, the sweet smell of honey is in the air. We are invited to hold a honeycombed hive frame buzzing with melliferous bees. Apprehensively we hold the frame, after being warned to “don’t drop it”, while posing for the cameras. Then we are invited to sit down and sample the product - delicious green tea with honey and lemon.
As we are leaving the “honey section” we are met with a young man with a massive python who offers to allow us to hold the beautifully green and yellow snake and pose for photos. Many of our Hashers take him up on the offer, especially kids who nearly buckled under the weight of it.
Next up - Ms. Oanh takes us to see where they make the traditional Mekong Coconut Candy. We marvel at the process and many load up with boxes and boxes of the candy. Mr. An looks a bit nervous - maybe we’ll need a bigger bus to get everything back.
After the candy store Ms. Oanh tries to usher us to our next destination - however the many stalls selling local arts and crafts prove to be a distraction for many of our eager shoppers. Eventually we get everyone together in a lovely tropical garden where we are treated to a selection of local fruit and serenaded by the dulcet sounds of traditional singers and musicians indigenous to this part of Vietnam.
Relaxed, we now head to a rickety pier on the Mỹ Tho River where we queue up to get on the small river boats. Anxiously we step on to the narrow boats worried it might capsize as it wobbles under our weight. Our scullers direct us where to sit and issue us some traditional nón lá (conical hats) for the journey. It’s a busy river with many tourists enjoying boat rides but once we settle in it is a very pleasant ride along the shady, palm tree lined, narrow river. At the end we climb up another rickety pier and wait for everyone to arrive before getting back on a bigger boat and heading off to Phoenix Island.
On Phoenix Island we are directed to a large airy restaurant where we are to have lunch. On the way we pass a crocodile farm and spy the carcass of a crocodile on a spit above a BBQ pit complete with head and teeth. Lunch is a veritable feast of local salad, omelette, stewed pork and the pièce de résistance - a crispy fried Mekong fish. Finally an obligatory hotpot of fish and vegetables is served.
Replete, it’s now time for Hashing part of today’s agenda: a ~5km walk. Our sole Hare, Chippy, led us through the restaurant garden to a concrete path by the river. The shady rural path takes us along the side of the Mekong where we meet cycling tourists, local fisherman and swathes of pomelo orchards. After approximately 2.6km we come to the end of the path and return the way we came.
Back at the rest area we have just enough time to chill in another airy coffee shop before shouts of “On-On” tell all to return to the pier and we board the boat for the final time today. We disembark at the terminal and cross the road to a park where we find the bus. The eskies are unloaded and we enjoy ice-cold Saigon Chill and a selection of soft drinks. Ringmaster, Have-A-Chat, takes the mic for a quick circle. First up is Chippy our Hare for the day and organiser of the whole trip - she is thanked and congratulated for making it a day to remember. The day is rated and everyone agrees - 10/10. We have one virgin, a Vietnamese guy who lives in Germany. A couple of returnees who have been unable to attend due work commitments. Finally just enough time to take a team photo before boarding the bus and heading back to Vung Tau.
Around 9:30 pm we arrived back at Nắng Vũng Tàu tired but satisfied after an amazing day out. Another great VTH3 event. Stay tuned for an announcement of an upcoming weekend away. Next week normal service will be resumed with an away trail to Long Hai.
RUN 1049 GALLERY
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