Again, because of the cycling distance today, 110 km it was off to an early start. The rain is still around but only afternoon and evening storms. We headed back out on the same route as yesterday for a bit, over the massive Can Tho Bridge, before heading West here to Long Xuyen.
I wrote in my story yesterday about the formula of capturing the images of the heart and soul of Vietnam. In terms of distance we are only 187 km from Saigon but the other TLRH lads, Troy and Giles, have completed 475 km since leaving Saigon 7 days ago, 6 cycling days. Today we reached the vital organs of the Mekong Delta by crossing another 60 bridges, total 160 since Saigon, and another big ferry ride to get here to Long Xuyen.
Cycling along major Mekong canals (Rach) either side of the team for most of the day resembled a bit like cycling along the Rhine in Germany; following very close to convoys of trading boats along the route laden with concrete for new bridges, for the building trade, massive loads of sand and gravel. Small boats with traders (sellers) with loudhailers marketing there wares along the canals; "banh bao nong dayyyyy !!!" ("hot pork bun !!!"), "cau ca basa dayyyyy!!" ("basa fish heads !!!"), "banh mi bo sua, nam ngan mot o!!!" ("baguette coated with butter 5,000 dong !!!!"), and many other Mekong delicacies.
Before getting into the heart of the Mekong Delta and just leaving Can Tho (Long Ho Ward, Tra On District, Vinh Long Province) we encountered another war cemetery worthy of a look see.
A very large gold colored statue of a Vietcong man and Vietnamese woman standing tall at the very back of a military war-graves site (To Quoc Ghi Cong). The sun wasn't quite up and at at the right angle earlier on as the monument was strategically located to shine accordingly to the rising of the morning sun which made the gold statue and the white marbled grave sites standout throughout the memorial park. It was worth the wait to see the glistening of the golden statue, highlighting the man wearing typical VC clothing, Ho Chi Minh sandals, boonies bush hat, webbing, and carrying an AK47. He appeared to be the protector of his country, freedom fighter, dedicated to family and ready to fight for his cause. His wife or partner standing next to him on a higher pedestal, barefooted and waving her scarf over the gravesite in front.
As the sun rose over the war graves we knew we were in for a very hot day. Life on the river and canals had already commenced earlier on which was evident when crossing the Can Tho Bridge. The sun wasn't quite up but the boats laden with products were taking advantage of the tidal waters and cruising along with the flow of the river upstream with minimum effort on the boat's engine.
Cycling in dangerous built up areas yet again for most of the day, lots of roundabouts for the TLRH lads to run the gauntlet. Giles, the bridge and ferry accountant, continuing to count bridge crossings and ferries and with a loud Regimental Sergeant Major's bark yelling out the total number of the bridge out every crossing. Prince keeps guiding and taking care of our needs to perfection, and Troy keeps and ear open but listens to his TLRH theme 60s music (Vietnam series) and occasionally bursts out in song himself. Hmmmmm!! I pleaded with today to please ease my suffering by not having me listen to his bad karaoke voice for the rest of the journey.
Long Xuyen is provincial city and capital city of An Giang Province, in the Mekong Delta region of south-western Vietnam. It is located at approximately 1,950 km south of Hanoi, 189 km from Ho Chi Minh City, and 45 km from the Cambodian border. The population of Long Xuyên city is over 368,376 (2013), with an area of only 130 km.
Long Xuyên is the second most prosperous city in south-western Vietnam, just after Cần Thơcity.
We've got two more days (200 km) and one rest day to go in the Mighty Mekong before crossing into Cambodia on the long ride home. It's been a long journey for me since leaving Hanoi 40 cycling days ago (3150 km) and with a new phase about to happen after crossing into Cambodia it will be a sad moment to say goodbye to Vietnam, the Vietnamese people and their culture.
xin chao va tam biet
Truck, Troy and Giles on the long ride home.