Matthew and I decided to take a three day tour of the Mekong Delta, offered via our hostel in Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon. The tour ends in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where we will be staying for the next 2 months. The enticing price of $55 per person included a room, meals, transportation and many sights to see along the way. How could we say no?! Exhausted by decision-making, we dove head first into the Mekong Delta adventure!
If you have read up to this point and are beginning to wonder if this story will be worth your time, bear with me. If any description of the tour had existed other than ‘Three Day Mekong Delta tour for $55’, it might have read something like this:
Do you love shopping and sitting on buses?
Do you like taking selfies in culturally inappropriate situations, wearing culturally inappropriate hats?
Do you like darting from event to event to event, not having the time to comprehend your surroundings?
Do you want to loose a few extra pounds and finally achieve that beach-bod?
No problem!- Starvation is the way to go!- We only provide you with one meal a day!
If you are still hungry, we might choose to randomly drop you off in an unknown town and let you run on a scavenger hunt.
Dehydration and low blood sugar make the challenge more fun!
We might also forget to inform you to stock up on cash, since there will be no place to hit up an ATM on our journey!
If this trip screams your name, join our Three Day Mekong Delta Tour!
First, you will be lead by our tour guides whose blue polo shirts read “Peace and Happiness.”
They will abandon you, unannounced, midway.
Feeling too comfortable?
No worries at all!
Ultimately, you will be taken across the border by a man who, speaking no English, disappears for an hour with your passport only to reappear and pack 15 of you into a 7 passenger van!
While this ‘refugee simulation’ tour cost us our time, happiness, confidence, faith in humanity, energy, politeness, patience, dry shoes, sleep, water, food and money, we did gain a vague, intangible friendship.
We went all the way from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to Phnom Penh, Cambodia with a large group of young French doctors. And even though we were mostly separated by language we were united by misery. No substantial knowledge of the Mekong Delta region was acquired, and some financial losses in gift shops inevitably happened, but I have to admit misery is an international language that allows bonds to be made cross culturally. The moment we were dropped off in Phnom Penh, our French doctors vanished into the ether. Shattered, we stared off into the rain, shaking from hunger and a poor WiFi connection, unsure what was real.