At daybreak, we head to an authentic floating market as vendors and shoppers converge. We watch sellers promote their products and view hundreds of boats of all sizes jockey for position. Lots of buying, selling and bartering. We then head over to the fish farms, where we see farmer-fishermen making their own fish food and farming their fish. I am mindful of an Oscar Hammerstein lyric from “South Pacific”. Nellie Forbush and the young lieutenant sing:

How far away

Philadelphia P.A., Princeton N.J

How far are they?

From coconut palms, and banyan trees, and coral sands, and Tonkinese, How far are they?

Life here is so very different than what we know. We are amazed and blessed to have the opportunity to experience it; and more than grateful for what we have back home. We return to Victoria Chau Doc for breakfast, then visit Sam Mountain, the highest mountain in the Mekong Delta. It’s more like a foothill to those of us who have seen the Rockies. We take shuttles to the top where we see pagodas and caves/bunkers. There is a man selling chances to set sparrows free from a bamboo cage – a sign of good luck. Below there are beautiful landscapes, but today is a little foggy, so our views are the same. Supposedly, Cambodia is off in the distance, but we can’t see it, perhaps a reaction to the pollution here.  It’s aggravating but it’s not taking us down.

chau doc floating market
sunset chao doc

Dinner is in the hotel’s Bassac restaurant again, with Dave, Cheryl and Joe Adorjan. Dianna has chicken noodle soup delivered to her room. Ten days in Vietnam is more than enough. We are ready to move on. Before we go, Larry reminds us, as he will a dozen times, to turn in our hotel keys. Many of these lovely old hotels still have keys that fit into key holes. The keys have fancy fobs … this one is a wooden boat that looks like it would float in the Mekong.

“There is a porter responsible in each hotel to make sure we have returned the keys before we leave. He has been instructed to throw himself in front of the bus if we haven’t complied. It can get really messy.”

locals chao doc vietnam

Then we walk to the Temple of Lady Xu, a major religious site. It is closely attached to one of the biggest festivities of Southern Vietnam. There is a legend about this lady and most Vietnamese people believe that she has great power. I’m thinking Tauck could cut a day out of this itinerary completely. One night here would have been plenty – take in the dawn floating market and motorboating to Phnom Penh, arriving in time for dinner. My dinner companions agree. After lunch with Dave and Cheryl, we head out to walk the streets of the town. We stroll the promenade along the river and then enter the city market. We come away with nothing. Cheryl and I buy some items in the hotel gift shop.

At 4 pm, we meet Larry in the lobby for another adventure on cyclos. We tour the town for 45 minutes on human-powered tricycles. We pass a school that is letting out and there is much laughter as all the kids yell “hello”.

I have been remiss in not mentioning health issues…

Dianna Adorjan has an upper respiratory infection. She has been down 2+ days. She has an antibiotic, a cough medicine and something to break up the congestions. A doctor was called in today, who prescribed what she was already taking. But his visit costs $20; her new meds cost $20. Her fever has broken but tomorrow’s long boat ride will be a trial for her.

I and several others have runny noses. We are all convinced it is allergies …

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Hamid, a travel blogger and writer as well as the owner of the Hanoi based tour operator introducing Vietnam’s charming attractions along with best Vietnam tours reviews