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Mekong Delta tour Day 3: Finally get my floating market fix at Cai Rai

The third day of the Mekong Delta tour is definitely my favorite. I wasn't able to see the floating market in Thailand (or Myanmar). I was desperate to see one before leaving Asia. The tourists on the 2 day tour were hoping to see the floating market (thanks to the deceiving brochures). I guess thats one good thing from taking the 3 day tour. I'm still undecided on whether the whole Mekong delta experience is worth it.

Highlights: Going picture crazy at Cai Rai floating market
Cast of Characters: Just myself. I hung out with a nice Malaysian family.
Logistics/ Links: I went with Delta Adventure tours. They have border crossings everyday. I took the 3 day Mekong delta tour. See also my post on Mekong delta tour day 1 & day 2.
When: I went around early March, 2012. The weather is fine for exploring the market. You're pretty much mostly inside the shaded boat so its fine. 
Location: Can Tho, Vietnam. Short boat ride away to Cai Rai floating market.
Cost: The total for the 3 day tour is $60. This includes transportation, hotels, breakfast (no drinks) for 2 days, various tours and activities.
Trip Report: I woke up (way too early) on the last day of the tour. They told me to go down to the lobby at like 6:30am or something. I thought I'll go at 6am so I'll have time for breakfast (lesson learned from a few weeks ago). I went down to the lobby of the hotel. Everyone was still asleep. The receptionist was actually sleeping behind the reception desk. I waited at the empty, dark lobby for people to start getting up. They had wifi so its all good. In about 5-10 mins, the hotel staff started getting the place ready for the day.

It was just me & another couple having breakfast. I thought to skype Steve. In maybe 15mins, the hotel lobby seemed to just suddenly fill up with people. There's at least 50 tourists now all going on the same boat tour to the floating market. Everyday there's a different set of people.

After breakfast, they split the crowd into 2 groups of about 2 dozen people each. We walked towards the boat dock. Waited for what felt like an hour for some latecomers (pssh!). When our boat finally took off, some tourists were already on their way back. A bit disappointing because they said the earlier you go, the more lively the place is. When we got there it still seemed pretty busy for me. It was a very interesting experience seeing the bustling floating market operating the way it has for generations. Good times. 

My personal review on the 3 day Mekong Delta tour: Its interesting to learn about how life is along the Mekong but, I did not find the experience or the place too exciting. I would probably skip Mekong & Ho Chi Minh if you are overlanding SE Asia and are short on time. Do it though, if you have loads of time & have to pass through that area anyway.

I wonder how those bikes work. Seems like they don't have pedals & just use their hands for mobilizing the bike. Anyway, cool hats from the lady

Our tourist boat for exploring the Mekong

Cool boat dude

Mekong river gas station

Some students hanging out

Cai Rai floating market. Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Cai Rai floating market. Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Cai Rai floating market. Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Cai Rai floating market. Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Some tourists buying food and snacks

Boats display their products by hanging them off those poles

Me at Cai Rai floating market. Yey!

Lottery tix

Everyone on our boat had a pineapple snack. It was good. Not as sweet as Thailand's though. I swear those Thai fruits are genetically mutated fruits on steroids.

Lady selling snacks and stuff to tourists

Cai Rai floating market. Our boat stopped at some rice processing factories.

Exploring villages & rice noodle factory

Rice noodle being cut

Rice noodle drying

The tour ended after about 4 hours. We were told to come back to the hotel by around 1pm for our bus to Ho Chi Minh. I had this delicious noodle dish (don't know what its called) & a dragon fruit shake. Mmm!
Its crazy how efficient the tours are here in Vietnam. Each bus or van is filled to maximum capacity. Very efficient. I heard some people say that some tourists get left behind though. I don't think the guides care that much. Our bus arrived around 2ish. Ready for Ho Chi Minh!

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