Ben Tre

Rod Page

Jan 7, 2010
We would continue northwards up the Mekong Delta staying as far as possible to the east. Such a journey inevitably involves the crossing of many rivers & canals, estuaries & tributaries. The larger, most readily available maps don't include any reference to ferries, the more detailed provincial maps sometimes give an indication, but finding the vast majority of places where crossing is possibile requires 'discussions', well 'sign language', with locals. It would prove a challenging yet most interesting run!


We headed out from Soc Trang along R60 with Dai Ngai in our sights. Its a pleasant run out through countryside we had come to see in the Delta but had sadly been met with the tragic reality of mass flooding. A shot of the countryside showing the bird-life is ever present:


Dai Ngai is a small town typical of many along the Delta yet to feel the weight of tourism with a very active market place & small wharf. By chance I found a 72 year old who spoke french & was able to determine that the ferry did indeed cross to Cau Quan. The ferry wharf at Dai Ngai:


All aboard:


Point of disembarcation:


A closer look at the return ferry being loaded shows the proceedure whereby you ride on then immediately spin your bike 180 degrees on the support leg to ensure an easy egress on arrival:


Once back on dry land we rode on feeling invigorated by the isolation, the authenticity of where we found ourselves. The road dog-legged right at a small village we came to determine was known as An Thanh I:


On we rode...........I was checking the GPS but each time I extended out past around 500m the image would show us riding off into the Pacific Ocean! We laughed & rode on, at one stage the GPS showing us some 8kms out to sea! We stopped & asked the way to Tra Vinh from time to time, sometimes receiving a shrug of the shoulders, at other times a 'straight ahead', & yes, sometimes a signal that we should turn back. We arrived at another village, this time referred to as An Thanh III yet knew that on the basis of time & desired direction we were well astray of our intended course. Maps were useless as locals seemed unable to read them, the GPS had us way out to sea, we could not get any agreement as to the way to Tra Vinh from locals. We ultimately acted by taking the route to where most locals pointed but often the road, well path, would just not add up - no way it could be down a small dirt track whilst our mapping showed sealed roads.

On this occassion, when we didn't take the 'track' as suggested & started plouging on ahead, we suddenly found ourselves being pursued by locals on bikes. They indicated we follow one amongst them - down every imaginable back-track, over small wooden bridges, across endless streams & canals, through ricefields & jungle before arriving at:


The bikes were loaded - though mine would not fit through the opening without 'adjustments'. It was of little concern on seeing certain other bikes loaded to keep mine company:


Off we headed as we looked back to the wharf from which we had departed:



We would find out later that despite the assurances of so many about our arriving in Cau Quan we had actually disembarked on My Phuoc - my phuoc' ing oath we had - a smallish island in the middle & at the mouth of the Hau Giang River where it meets the South China Sea.

Rod Page

Jan 7, 2010
The arrival in Tra Vinh province was just as exciting as the adventures on My Phuoc. We docked at a place we came to learn was Dinh An, a small village lost at the 'end of the road, at the end of the river'. It was not without charm, however, with a character-filled riverside snack/bar/billiard hall, in fact a facility serving your every need seen here in the background at Dinh An Wharf:


The way off the boat; all bikes riden up by staff:



Directions concerning the way to Tra Vinh township varied wildly depending on with whom you talked. We followed the instruction of the person who spoke the best, though very limited English. We were fortunate to misunderstand his instructions taking a marvellous ride into 'another world' out through the backroads & trails of this serene & tranquil area, a loop which ultimately brought us back to Dinh An & the road we were actually seeking. Life in Dinh An:


Lost in the countryside:


We would find our way up to Tra Vinh through all its intersections & turn-offs with little problem; it was an enchanting ride offering a visual snap-shot of a Vietnam untouched by the modern world. From near Tra Vinh we would head west following the flow of the Song Co Chien (river) rejoining a now in a shocking state of disrepair R60, which just pops up across sundry waterways in this area, before reaching Pho Co Chien (ferry):


Its an easy but enjoyable run thenceforth up to Ben Tre, the road having undergone a most substantial upgrade following the opening in 2010 of a large suspension bridge at last connecting Ben Tre to the world, more particularly, My Tho & on to HCM City.

It was time for a cocktail in the upstairs bar of our hotel overlooking the Song Ham Luong (river) just after sun-set:



Oct 23, 2009
I love your report of the Delta, but could not localize a picture of the region in my « shoe box ». Instead, I contributed this portrait, the kind of expression who caught me to Asia, more than twenty years ago.

Thank you again for your effort to show us trails that we could drive, or at least dream of.