Danny Yee >> Travelogues >> Vietnam + Cambodia
from my window

San Mountain - Chau Doc

We had some snacks in the hotel restaurant and I sent some email. (The wireless was password protected and the staff didn't know anything about it, but I borrowed the ethernet cable from the one desktop machine they had available for guests and that worked.)

The Thuan Loi hotel was the cheapest — $9/night — and least fancy hotel we stayed in on the trip. My window was really hard to close properly, and I let mosquitos in the first night when I left a crack open. The shower didn't drain, so the water pooled in the bottom of it. And the air conditioning unit in my room was so loud I didn't use it and opted for the standing fan instead.

But this was still my favourite hotel of the whole trip. The key attraction was the floating restaurant at the back of the hotel. This had good food, as well as coffee and drinks, and was a great place to sit and watch the Mekong — or, to be precise, the Bassac — go by. I also had a view of the river from my room.

Richard rested while I went for a walk. I wandered back through the market and along the riverbank to the big Victoria Hotel, where they gave me a brochure and told me the bird sanctuary tour was $58 per person. Then I visited the Hoa Sen bookshop, where I bought a Mekong Delta map, chatted to the shop owner Long Nguyen about Vietnamese notes being made in Australia, and booked a boat tour for the following day ($10).

Richard on a motorbike with "bold" driver

rice fields from San mountain

When I got back to the hotel Richard and I hired motorbikes to take us the 10km or so out to San Mountain for the sunset. Richard was with a "bold" driver and I was with an "old" one, which may have been why he was more concerned about the driving than I was — though he used to ride a motorbike himself and may have known enough to be worried where I blithely trusted.

There were great views from the top of the mountain, showing just how flat the surrounding countryside is — much of it was still under water, as the floods had only been retreating for a few weeks — and how close Cambodia was. Some mountains were visible in the distance, possibly as far away as the Elephant Mountains.

It was not very crowded, with maybe ten foreign tourists and ten local visitors, plus assorted workers. Richard bought some food to feed to a monkey chained in a tree.

While on San Mountain, a mosquito bit me and I hurriedly applied insect repellent. I was worried about malaria, of course. The doctor I talked to before leaving Australia had shown me a map on which coastal Vietnam and all of Cambodia around the Tonle Sap were marked as malaria-free, leaving this part of the trip, near the border, as the only danger area.

We watched the sunset then I walked down the hill in the gloom, partly because it was pleasant going downhill in the relative cool and partly to avoid the motorcycle ride around the sharp bends. We switched drivers for the run back to town.

Dinner in the hotel restaurant was excellent: I had two huge grilled prawns with rice, while Richard had "to cram the pork into the tomato".

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