When I was young during the war, growing up in the the dry dusty port of Da Nang, I dreamed about visiting cool and wet places like Can Tho and Da Lat. Can Tho is as Vietnam as it can get and Da Lat is as French as one can get in Southeast Asia.
Can Tho is where one thinks of verdant rice patties, water buffalo, and tree laden with fruits heavy on the branches. It’s beautiful to look but tough to make a living. Because it’s so close to Saigon, many farmers walked away and find easier living in the city. For the tourists, there isn’t much to do except enjoying the slower pace of life and sampling all sorts of tropical fruits from Vietnam’s fruit basket region.
But getting here from Luang Prabang was an ordeal. We took a flight back to Bangkok (went through custom), then another flight to Ho Chi Minh city (went through custom), stayed over night at our aunt’s house, then boarded a shuttle to the bus depot, then boarded the big bus (sleeping seats!) to Can Tho. By the time we reached the Victoria Can Tho resort, we were exhausted.
The bus has just one rest area stop and it was a feast to the eyes and the stomach. Between the cities, there are very minimal accommodation for the weary travelers.
This is nem, or sour raw pork sausages wrapped in banana leaves. My mouth is watering thinking about them but my vacation has just begun and I dare not take my chances. And yes, it’s sour because it’s spoiled.
The specialty in Can Tho is banh xeo, or crispy crepe filled with pork and shrimp.
We arrived at the Victoria Can Tho at the peak of the slow season and to us, the best time of the year. Since only a few rooms were occupied, we had the place all by ourselves and enjoyed excellent service by the hotel staff.
At night, we took the barge across the river, strolled along the shore, and enjoyed the full moon. The best part is that I can talk to anyone, the fish mongrel or the fruit peddler, and haggle!