Oh, the bus ride was excruciatingly long. We tried playing games, sleeping, we attempted to write in journals/type things out on laptops/tablets, but the motion of the bus was too much for me. I managed to get a couple of hours sleep in though, which was good, and on one of the stops, we met this fellow:
I’d done something a little bit silly over the past couple of days… I’d been wearing my sandals in the sea. Not for long periods of time, but enough for the leather to be not very happy with me! They were brilliantly comfortable, I’d got them on a whim in Malaysia when I was there a few years ago, but alas, they were not of the highest quality. I could feel the soul of the left foot peeling away from the upper in the blistering heat, walking across the Vietnamese border! What can I say? The timing was just perfect! I made it past immigration and was sitting in the weird no-man’s land between countries waiting for my passport to be returned to me and I spied a bin. So I said my goodbyes and put my trainers on for the second leg of the walk!
After the amusements of the border crossing, we loaded our luggage onto yet another minibus, hopped on and got on our way. We stopped at a guesthouse for lunch and the owner was willing to exchange currency for Vietnamese dong. I had a bit of £GBP with me, and the rate he was giving was pretty good, so I got myself some local cash, stashing my Cambodian riel away to another part of my purse (I’d need it when I made it back to Siem Reap for the next part of my trip).
The food at this place was absolutely delicious. We were sitting on the top floor and the kitchen was literally at the end of the room. From where I was sitting, I could see the woman in the kitchen and it must have been seriously hot in there, but she knocked those dishes out in record time. We were due to go to a homestay in Can Tho in the evening, so I didn’t want to eat too much, and I’d had a bit of a weird stomach, so I took it easy at lunchtime.
When we got there, we chucked our things in the rooms we were to sleep in and headed back to the family room for dinner. We’d been warned that the homestay was not going to be particularly comfortable, but this couldn’t have been further from the truth. We had a little hut with two proper sized beds, mosquito nets and power points, plus lights and a fan. What more could you possibly ask for? A bathroom? Yup, there were two Western style loos just outside our little hut, with a shower head sticking out of the side of the wall, and a little sink. Perfect.
Dinner started with a demonstration of how to make traditional Vietnamese rice pancakes. The ingredients were gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan-friendly – rice flour, turmeric, spices and salt to taste and water. The batter was really quite runny, and the lady heated a tablespoon of oil in a wok until it was smoking hot, poured in enough batter to line the pan, wait until it gets crispy and then flipped it over. The fillings are where things start to get a little bit more interesting – there was a veggie option with beansprouts and another leafy green vegetable, but the standard version was pork mince with egg and beansprouts. and it was super tasty.
Unfortunately, as the evening wore on, I was feeling more and more ropey, so by the time it got to the feast of pumpkin soup, morning glory (I kid you not! It’s on so many menus, and its just like a green veg with a nice tender stem) enough rice to feed an army, noodle dishes with more pork and seafood, I stuck around for the rice pancake demo, ate a few vegetables, made my excuse and hit the hay. I felt awful because the family had obviously put in a lot of effort to the feast that was presented to us, but I just couldn’t face it.
I skipped the early morning trip to the floating markets but managed a superfast shower and we got on our way to Ho Chi Minh City.