I had to be ready at 8am for my Mekong Eyes pick up and the journey to the boat took just over three hours, with a rather nice 20 minute stop at the Mekong Rest Stop 1/2 way for refreshments, I got some postcards I love there.
When we got to the landing I was shocked we had to cross three, relatively, thin and wobbly high up planks to get to the ‘launch/shuttle’ taking us to the Mekong Eye. Not for the fainthearted and I was impressed people older than me were willing to do it and we all achieved it, with the help of crew, without anyone falling in.
On the boat I was shown my spacious double cabin and impressive private ‘marble’ bathroom with shower - with 14 cabins, Mekong Eyes is the largest boat in their ‘fleet’.
After settling into our cabins we headed upstairs with a glass of wine to meet other passengers and introduce them to Issy. Another passenger used to have a bunny toy who undertook a similar role. It was bliss just to take in the views on the desk.
We dined at communal tables with assigned seating. I was seated by a brilliant couple, who split their time between Seattle and LA. Just as in Phuket, it was worth paying extra for ‘luxury’, if only because of the interesting passengers you get to meet. These two explained cruises in Ha Long Bay were more luxurious than this one. I will do this cruise after I return to Vietnam from Cambodia & Laos.
Lunch started with pumpkin soup, another (non-noddle) Vietnamese soup I was not keen on. Then it was some standard spring rolls that were rather good. This was followed by some grilled prawns that were excellent with a green chilli & lime dip.
The ‘main course’ was sea bass, with all the pineapple etc on top it was ‘TV dinner’ like, with rice. The stir-fried string beans with garlic that also came with it were crispy and delicious.
After a post-lunch rest/snooze on the deck, we had our excursion.
We got another shuttle to our village visit. Our guide showed us various vegetation and explained how many of them are used. He was jokey & friendly and it was interesting to hear his local knowledge.
The tour ended with tea and fruit, it was an idilic way to spend part of the afternoon and we were even shown a snake.
Cocktails at Sunset
After a freshing up, ‘free’ cocktails were served as we watched the sunset and I chatted to a fun Scottish couple from Aberdeen.
After a shower, I was with the same US couple again for dinner but they were so easy to talk with that I was pleased about this. We started with green mango salad with shrimps, rather good.
Next it was fried catfish. My new US friends were horrified by the idea of this 'cheap bottom feeder' but we all agreed it was rather good in the end. The eggplant dish it came with was not pan fried, as described on the menu, but was OK. The next course was some rather good BBQed pork ribs (if a little fatty) with rice.
The meal ended with chocolate cake with tomatoes carved as little rabbits!!
I ended the night on the deck with another glass of wine working on www.sifrew.com and chatting to our fun guide from earlier.
It started with breakfast on the deck at 6:45am. The boat moored while we slept but I was awake as soon as its engines started again around 6am and so got to witness the stunning sunrise from the deck.
The pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) at breakfast was great.
Cai Rang Floating Market etc
Having not visited the Bangkok floating market, I was excited about this excursion.
We got a high speed boat and toured the floating markets, before visiting the land market and then a rice noodle 'factory'. It was a very interesting morning.
Journey Back to Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon
The drive back took 4 hours but there was a stop for a hot lunch in Vinh Long City included in my package.
There was another (non-noodle) soup in Vietnam I was not keen on and then sweet & salty pork that was rather good and a charming Polish group to eat all this with.
🐻🐻🐻🐻 (4 out of 5 ‘teddies’) - I was impressed by the boat, and its excellent crew, but not by the way we boarded or left it and this, combined with poor WiFi, lost them a ‘teddy’. My tip: you do not need to return to Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon at the end of the trip. Having already travelled that far, I would have been better continuing my journey, if I had not been promised a Bollinger champagne evening, at the InterContinental, Saigon, on Wednesday this week.