Due to heavy rain in central Vietnam, we ‘had to’ stay a little longer in the south. Cần Thơ (pronounce as ‘can təh’) is a major city in the middle of the Mekong delta. This river is responsible for generating highly fertile soil, which is also one of the reasons why there’s so much industry around here, especially fish and fruit processing companies. Although you better avoid eating fish (like pangasius) from these fish farms, as the fish have been preventatively treated with antibiotics, to ensure they grow as fast as possible. Hence these fish farms form a real threat to the environment.
The city attracts little tourists too, since most people visit the Mekong delta during a day trip or just while passing through. So here you can get quite an accurate image of what a ‘real’ Vietnamese city looks like. Because of its local ‘treasures’, Cần Thơ is quite a decent city. It also houses a large university (+40,000 students), which causes a lot of dynamics. Wednesday we arrived here, went out to eat and walked through the city.
The next morning we left at 6am for the driving market of Cần Thơ. This is a wholesale market where there are far less tourists than on other wholesale markets in Asian cities. Our guide Kent was a tourism management student and worked as a tour guide on weekdays – while being the King of Karaoke on weekends. The wholesale market principle entails that merchants go visit inland plantations to buy fruits and vegetables that they then ship to Cần Thơ, where the fresh produce will be dropped off and ‘wait’ for the weekly market. Local merchants then come here to buy groceries for their shop or restaurant. Quite interesting to watch all this take place. We were invited to climb a ship and we were offered a tasty pineapple – skydeck view included. After the market we stopped at a local noodle factory. The sun didn’t shine that day though, which meant the noodles couldn’t dry. So we joined a round of karaoke in front of the tv with the entire family.
The rest of the day, we hang around in the city and in the evening we had ‘hot pot’ for dinner – a local specialty which you can compare to the fondue we’d have in Belgium. Instead of oil, here they use stock. The meal ingredients passed us by on a conveyer-like system, just like in fancy sushi bars. Funny! We could guess most ingredients 🙂
The next morning we walked to he local market. Markets are always interesting – you see what locals eat, how they interact and how local trade works. Life as it is. Did you know that a frog can still move, even when it’s been skinned and beheaded? We didn’t either, until this week. Fish, apparently, don’t need to be fully dead before they’re being sold either.
For the evening we had booked a food tour. A student would guide us along all the different streetfood stalls and let us get acquainted with the local kitchen. However, it was pooring with rain so guide Dustin proposed to go out for dinner with his friends instead. Fine idea. We went to a street that was crammed with different food stalls. It was almost like a food truck festival, but without the hipsters. The food was absolutely amazing – we had grilled octopus, scampis, rice, noodles, different veggies, fish springrolls and hột vịt lộn, if we wanted to. That last thing was kind of special. It’s a duck egg that’s been fertilized for 12 days but not yet fully hatched out. So there’s a 12-day old duck foetus inside the egg. The idea is strange, but the taste is quite neutral. You could compare it somehow with a too-hard boiled egg. You mainly taste the egg yolk.
This was also our last night in Cần Thơ. We decided to fly to Hội An next. It’s a lot cheaper to fly than to take the train, which by the way takes 17 hours plus a 20-hour bus ride. So off to the airport in the morning. Our flight was at 10am at an airport which we expected to be something like a pimped bus station, but that turned out a little different. A whole new modern building, where you could eat off the floor*. Not too big though, so arriving two hours in advance was a little too enthusiastic of us. We boarded on time and the flight was quite pleasant – I guess. I slept the entire hour until we landed in Hội An.
*Not literally, of course.
– We did the ‘floating market tour’ and the ‘food tour’ via Eco-tours. An organisation that mainly works with students as tour guides. Highly recommended!
– We stayed at the Spring hotel, simple but clean. Nice family running the hotel.
– We flew to Hội An with Vietjet. Lowcost, but fine. We (accidentally) got chairs with extra leg space near an emergency exit.