Con Son, Vietnam23 May 2017
With a little time to kill before our flight, we returned to Nice Cafe, where we sat upstairs to enjoy the view and chill. Then we packed up our belongings and checked out of the hotel, picking up a packet of hat bang while we still had the chance.
Hat bang is a specialty of the Con Dau Islands. All along the footpaths, you see clusters of almonds laid out in the sun in preparation. These are not normal almonds, but Indian or Malabar almonds, which are thinner than any almond I've seen before.
The bus station was far more confusing than it ought to be, but after some bumbling we ended up with two reasonably priced tickets to Ben Tre. We found the correct bus without much difficulty, and soon were on the road. Along the way we listened to audiobooks and gazed out at the scenery, which became increasingly more swampy as we approached the Mekong Delta.
Upon arrival in Ben Tre, we quickly booked a hotel and caught a taxi directly there. What made that particular hotel stand out was that it was run by a Kiwi guy, and we figured a little reminder of home would be nice. We knew that we had been delivered to the right place when we saw a large sign hanging from the front of the building reading "Go All Blacks!" We met the owner and his advanced age proved to be a significant barrier to his comprehension of Yannick's job description. Although we explained to the best of our ability, it seemed that he thought Yannick was some kind of mix between an IT specialist and someone who personally created 'The Lord of the Rings'. We chatted for a while and found out that he was originally from Kerikeri. He introduced us to his Vietnamese wife and the student who worked for them part-time. They were all so friendly. Although we normally avoid going on predesigned tours, they gave us loads of information on their different tours and we could tell that the places visited would be inaccessible to us if we headed out on our own. We booked the tour for the next morning, and eagerly awaited seeing a coconut factory.
Arriving at Garden Restaurant, we were surprised by the size of the establishment, which had several different seating areas and a small bridge over a narrow manmade canal. There were hardly any other patrons, and our waiter was weirdly attentive. He handed us only one menu, which we had to share, and stared at us expectantly. However, he didn't wait at all long and kept interrupting by suggesting dishes for us, not allowing us to ponder the menu in peace.