After some more pho for breakfast (the famous dish of Vietnam has not yet been spoiled on me thanks enough variety but Vietnamese eat this like their daily bowl of cereal), we hit the road. Beyond the main stretch of pavement, we found roads out of the way that took us through coconut and palm tree alleys while leading past the smallest of towns and villages. While hitting the countryside we hit some brief rain patches that could have been a problem if it weren’t for my desperate need to cool off in any way possible. The only problem in our journey was the lack of space on the bike; it simply wasn’t designed for two people and a body bag. Regardless I thoroughly enjoyed getting off the main road for a real taste of Vietnam while soaking up the brisk breeze and occasional rain droplet. We arrived to Ben Tre in the early afternoon in search of a hotel. While asking for help from a hotel that was clearly out of our price range and physical appearance, a young Vietnamese guy around our age offered to help show us the way. Since he practically popped out of nowhere I was initially suspicious as to what he really wanted. We first went to his uncle’s mechanic shop to check my oil, which he did for free, and then finally scored a ultra sweet deal of hotel with four beds just for the hell of it. After a nap, we walked the town to explore what there was to see which we found out wasn’t much but that didn’t ruin my time in Ben Tre. The fact that it was such a genuine Vietnamese city made it special. It was the kind of place that only other Vietnamese come to visit. Ben Tre is not on the tour package circuit so you have to get here on your accord and willingness. We circumvented their pond at the center of town as the sun set past the trees ringing the outer stretches of the water. As we continued walking, I created a challenge. The first person to spot a white person would win a beer. The only trump card would be the ultra rare black person which would have scored two beers (and probably deserved more). For the longest time, we were the only white people around so the two of us were a spectacle wherever we went. Not until we reached the riverside did Irene spot two white guys, who ended up being the sole representatives of the West during our search. I had some more pho (no surprise but more so due to the depressing and rare fact that I could not find much food on offer no matter how much my beagle nose hunted for an errant waft of food) and a freshly juiced shake before the night commenced. Since this wasn’t HCMC Ben Tre wrapped itself up quite early.
Riding Vietnam Day 149: Off the Grid to Ben Tre