We have just waived good bye to my parents. The pain of constant good byes is the hardest part of expat life.
And although our travel still continues it’s seems right that I should finish the story of the time with my parents.
After the nightmare crossing into Cambodia we decide that we should hit the Vietnamese border early. Much to my dads disgust! It turns out that the border crossing was really quite and very straight forward. Leaving Cambodia was just a case of handing in our departure cards and walking over no mans land. Arrival was also pretty straight forward… just a quick medical form, a temperature check and a dubious $1 charge each. We didn’t need a visa as we we’re staying less than 15 days so that helped!
A rather flustered lady ran to us and took out passports from the official. Husbands reactions quickly kicked in and he just a quickly took them off her. Our experience of any border crossing is hold onto your passports as much as possible! As soon as someone has them you are at their mercy and unfortunately people do take advantage.
The lady quickly explained she was here to take us to her office to buy ferry tickets. Although we were expecting a pick up we wanted to get the tickets ourselves at the port. We explained this and although she was obviously upset she took us to our onwards travel ( which this time we hadn’t paid for up front!)
At the ferry port we secured our tickets and chilled in a cafe for the couple of hours wait. We could have set off later I guess when it comes to borders you never know. The ferry was chosen purely on Boy Blues request for a red boat.
It turns out it was a good choice, clean and fairly new the 1.5 hours to Phu Quoc was pleasant enough (once you had drones out the music from the soppy sitcoms playing on the big screens). My dad even won a Vietnamese style motorbike helmet!
We had 3 nights on the island and what did we do? Well not a lot. Played on the beach, had massages, paddled kayaks and enjoyed the very well run and beautiful beach front accommodation offered by Bamboo Cottages. We did have some rain but I can’t say it bothered us really, I guess we might have gone snorkelling if it hadn’t.
On our second day we were woken up ridiculously early by a very excited birthday boy! The poor chap is never “home” for his birthday and quite often his dad hasn’t been there but he always makes the most of his day. Always super grateful for whatever we manage to cobble together. When we told him he was gonna be on holiday his only request was a beach. That we had at least achieved.
In the afternoon we managed to put together a little party for him. We had bought balloons and ordered some finger type foods… the restaurant put loads of effort into presenting the food and added flowers to further decorate the table. When we walked him in he said “oh look someone is having a party”… we all smiled… his face when it dawned on him that it was for him! So surprised and chuffed.
Earlier in the trip he had asked if there would be a cake on his birthday… I prewarned him that it was unlikely. He had taken the news without complaint. But I had actually asked the accommodation in advance to organise a cake. Again his face when they brought it out! He is such a super star… as the middle child he doesn’t really ever get special treatment so when he does it makes his day.
All to soon it was time to leave the island and head to the Mekong. The only ferry we could get was at 7;15 in the morning so that meant leaving at 5:40. I’m not sure my dad will agree to travel with us again if we keep having these early mornings.
Boy Blue has a bit of a history of being sick on boats and as we were heading for a different port on the mainland the trip was going to be 3 hours on the boat. A couple of times he did complain about stomach ache but thankfully he wasn’t actually sick.
Our next stop was the Mekong Delta Nguyen Shack. A very welcoming low impact homestay. We loved it. Ok it had cold showers but it was totally worth it just for the location. Set in beautiful gardens with water all around it was a great place to relax in the hammocks.
Our first night we had a sunset cruise around the delta, still a critical part in the locals life. We saw many people bathing, washing clothes, fishing and cooking water side. On some of the narrower channels there were pulley systems to carry produce over the water ways.
I was keen to hit the floating markets but with the 5:20 start we couldn’t convince my dad! The tour was fascinating, first was a floating version of a wholesaler. Big boats tossing produce such as potatoes, crabs and watermelon to smaller boats. Each boat sign posting their produce by tall sticks above the boat.
We bought coffee from a floating shop, how the lady managed to, steer the boat, stand up and pour boiling liquid on the rocking boat I have no idea!
After the floating market we headed to a small land market. The amount of fresh package-less fruit and veggies was amazing. A sight I wish we saw more of!
The sight of skinned frogs jumping around however was very disturbing! Lego boy announced he is now vegetarian! (It lasted 3 days).
As we boarded the boat our guide gave us massive rubber ponchos. Within seconds of us leaving it went from sunshine to an absolute downpour. I’m glad I didn’t turn down the strange garment like some of the other westerners on the boat. Despite the torrential rain the garment kept everything but my nose dry!
When we returned Pom Pom was just waking up! And he was keen to explore, we borrowed some bikes and a map and set off. Within minutes we were lost! The map didn’t help at all it even said at the top “go explore and get lost!”
Thank goodness for gps! We managed to compete a circuit back to the homestay. On the way passing beautiful countryside. The bikes were in an interesting state of repair but that didn’t stop Boy Blue falling asleep! About half way round husband back wheel became more oval than round! Monkey boy had to be transferred to Pom Poms bike just in case it gave way completely! Nan Nan, ever the realist commented that “at least the seats are comfy!”
We loved the tours but the boys loved the freedom of climbing our shack and building there own shack with the bits of wood under our shack!
Our last day with my parents was spent in Ho Chi Minh. We wandered around the city exploring the sight and sounds but if I am honest I was just dreading the good bye! Inevitably it was all to soon time! A few tears were shed all round but it had been brilliant to see them! And to quote my mother “it’s been a amazing adventure but definitely not a holiday!”.
Safe travels mum and dad! See you and the rest of our families in about 20 weeks xxx