HCMC Dining Guide

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I love my job

This past weekend I went down to Chau Doc, a town in the Mekong Delta near the Cambodian border, for a free two-night stay at the 4-star Victoria hotel. The hotel's annual 'Green Day' campaign took place on Saturday, and they had invited someone from AsiaLIFE to come out for it. It was my turn to get one of these free trips.

Chau Doc is one of those places that can make traveling in Vietnam hateful at times - it's only about 150 miles away, yet it takes 6-7 hours to get there because the roads are so awful. Trips like this make me really appreciate the American highway system, where you could cover well over 400 miles in the same amount of time.

Fortunately the hotel made up for the miserable drive to it. I'm not going to go into much detail because I'm writing an article about the trip and can't use anything that is going to be published, but here is a collection of pictures:
The hotel sits on the Bassac River. This was the view from my room.
At dawn.

I overate at the breakfast buffet both mornings.

The view from Sam Mountain outside of town. 'Mountain' is a bit generous, but cool views at least. Cambodia is off in the distance.

For some reason there is a t-rex on the mountain.
As part of the 'Green Day' campaign dozens of local students planted trees on the mountain.
There are no taxis in Chau Doc, and xe loi are one of the major modes of transportation. Given my prowess at cycling, if my life ever completely falls apart I'll move to Chau Doc, live in a shack and drive one of these.
The only other writer on the trip was a Vietnamese woman, and she brought along her husband and two kids. Seems like blatant freeloading to me, but I later found out that that is very common for Vietnamese journalists. The plus side was that her 5 year-old son Max and I became fast friends, and he actually listened to me when I spoke Vietnamese.
my room
The hotel took us to Tra Su, a waterlogged gum tree forest outside of town. This place was amazing.

A video from our cruise through the forest:

All in all this was a pretty great weekend, though I was bone tired at the end after getting up before 7 three days in a row. Here's hoping for more freebies in the future.

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