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Old 04-07-2008, 08:16 AM   #16
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:18 AM   #17
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And again:
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:20 AM   #18
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I also spy Vietnamese ice milk coffee!!! (c ph sữa đ) Yumm . . .

I think VN food is the best I've had in SEA, including Thailand and Cambodia. The ingredients are so fresh it's impossible to explain to anyone who lives in a NorthAm city, used to hard, flavourless veg and factory farm meats. Even KFC chicken is amazing (I found it hard to type that but it's true).

Keep the pix coming Josh69. Really appreciate the local colour from one of my favourite cities in SEA. (Viet girls are . . . See my avatar)
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:25 AM   #19
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Ben Tre province is an island in the delta. It's only 2.5 hours from HCMC but it is a million miles away.

I used to get lost all the time in Vietnam as the road signage is quite poor. There is a reasonably detailed and accurate road atlas available, however a lot of places use local names rather than the official name (or at least the name in the road atlas), plus once you leave the big cities almost nobody speaks English. Even if you communicate by sign language - which is suprisingly effective - sometimes because of the differenece in local vs offical name, they still can't work out where you want to go. All this means you can get horribly lost, very often.

I got a GPS and scanned in the road atlas maps. I use a PDA type GPS and the Pathaway software. I've even got a 12V power socket installed on the bike.

Anyway, I was trying to find a bird sancturay on Ben Tre. With the GPS I knew exactly where I was on the map, unfortunately the location of the bird sancturay was still a bit nebulous. I had 3 x different maps, it was in a different location on two of them and it wasn't marked on the other one.

All this resulted in me driving up and town Ben Tre for about 2 hours and still not finding it!

I did see some other interesting stuff though, like this out-of-the-way place:
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:33 AM   #20
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And some temples:

This is Nguyen Dinh Chieu Temple. The Lonely Planet says "Dedicated to Nguyen Dinh Chieu, a local scholar, this temple is in Ba Tri district which is a 30-min (more like 1.5 hours for me as I was looking for the bird park) 36km drive from Ben Tre"
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:38 AM   #21
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So I couldn't find the bird sanctuary, but at least I did find one of the places in the Lonely Planet so I was doing OK.

I drove past a primary school which had a load of colourful red tents erected in the school yard. I pulled over to take a look. Within seconds, the schoolkids started to pose:
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:41 AM   #22
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I was still outside the school gate at this stage, but you don't really get a lot of foreigners in that part of Ben Tre, so they came up to take a look:
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:43 AM   #23
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And pretty soon they were all over the bike:
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:48 AM   #24
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Take some pictures in the West around a school and you would probably be arrested for being a pedophile, but VN is still a bit more innocent, so instead when the school principal and the teachers noticed there was a foreigner on a bike with 30 school kids all around (I guess I stood out a bit), they invited me in for lunch and to watch the school games. The games were the reason the tents were up.

Sack race:
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:50 AM   #25
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I'm liking this thread! Keep the pics coming!
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Old 04-07-2008, 08:56 AM   #26
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Ball race:
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Old 04-07-2008, 09:01 AM   #27
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Thanks Josh, keep it coming.
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Old 04-07-2008, 09:03 AM   #28
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Class photo. There was only one teacher there who spoke English. However I've always found even if nobody speaks English, if you are patient, smile a lot, use a dictionary and/or make hand signals.... everything normally works out.

The tents in the school yard were organised by classes. This is one class.
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Old 04-07-2008, 09:04 AM   #29
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Note the framed picture of Ho Chi Minh in the background of the previous class photo.

Here are some future bikers:
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Old 04-07-2008, 09:12 AM   #30
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It was getting to mid afternoon by this stage. It's a bad idea to ride at night in the countryside in Vietnam, so it was time to go so I'd make it to Tra Vinh in daylight.

So it was bye-bye to the school. As I was about to motor off, one of the teachers came out with 3 x watermelons to give me. Hmmm, almost full tank-bag and full tail box and 3 newly arrived watermelons to transport....

But I managed to get two of them in! Quite tasty too, I ate one later that same afternoon and I've just eaten the last one tonght about 2 weeks later. So thanks for the watermelons.



I took another ferry still within Ben Tre province but over another branch of the Mekong. Coming out of the ferry terminal I drove for a kilometre or two, when there was a sign pointing to "Tra Vinh", which was my destination and also a the biggest city for miles around. I wondered at the time why nobody else seemed to be going that way and instead were going in the opposite direction.....
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