After the whole day of sailing, canoeing and alligator-fishing on the Mekong Delta we arrived at our hotel at the suburbs of Can Tho. The room was very good quality, bearing in mind that we had paid 25$ each for the whole two-day trip. It belonged to the An travel agency which organised the whole tour, what partially explained the low price. We were given some time to check-in, unpack and have a shower, then the bus took us to the city centre were we were meant to enjoy the bright lights of Can Tho. The city especially deserved a separate post because of the extraordinary food, though we have just spent there one night.
Thus far our experience with Vietnamese streetfood was not very promising so when we found a larged market with numerous food stalls we were rather reserved. As soon as we noticed all those colourful shashliks with a huge variety of ingredients we realized that we have most likely finally found what what we have come for to Vietnam. I asked about the price, it was less than half a dollar for each (10 000 VND) which I found quite suspicious. We started with the ones with beef, cherry tomatos and some green vegetable we couldn’t indentify: they were absolutely awsome! Then, we went for the shashliks with meat balls and octopus, again with cherry tomatos, onion and the misterious green stuff. Not only did they taste even better (especially the octopus!): even the price stayed at the same level which I honestly found unbelivable, but it did.
The next stall was small and offered common refreshments, though we have also observed people buing some green drink, fresh-squeezed and served in transparent plastic cups with ice and straw. We were wondering what it was actually squeezed of, as it actually looked like a bamboo stick. We reckoned it was some kind of aloe juice, which we like, and asked about the price: sixty thousand Vietnam Dong!? No, it’s just that Vietnamese have problems with numbers in English and the price turned out to be just 6 000 VND, which is about 20 cents. It was superbly delicious and very refreshing and we realized that it was sugar cane juice. We drank it several times again while walking around the food market and then uncountable times during our further journey through Vietnam. The price varied from 5 000 to 12 000 and so did the size and taste depending on the quantity of ice and quality of the suger cane.
Refreshed, we tried some kind of Vietnamese tortilla-tacos-similar-thing, also very tasty and at the same low price. The filling was made of raw egg, chili sauce, fresh onion and ham. This dish we have also tried many times later, but the kind of shashliks we ate at the first stall we have not found any more in the whole Vietnam. In fact, it was even the last time we ate octopus which is one of my favourite seafood.
Further on, we tried shashliks with fried tempura shrimps, fired cheese shashliks and something which we thought was baked banana shashlik but was quite spicy and tasted like ginger as well. What we didn’t like was a durian shake which candied fruit: it tasted.. just weird. Durian is a very smelly fruit which you are usually not allowed to take with you to the hotel room, but it is claimed to be very delicious, maybe, again, it’s an acquired taste. My second favourite food after the octopus were the crab shashliks: they weren’t accompanied by any vegatables but the pieces of crab were very big and juicy.
When we have eventually satisfied our hunger and curiosity, it was time for other basic needs: shopping and thirst. We bought a t-shirt and underwear as it turned out that we had left too many clothes at the laundry and had nothing to put on the following day. Because of extreme humidity and high temperature, even after two hours we had to change. We paid less than five USD in total, so it was very cheap, and I must admit that the quality was satisfactory. Shopping was so exciting, that we needed another refreshment, so we went to look for our favourite Vietnamese beer. It turns out, that beer in shops is sold almost only in cans. We went to a bar nearby, and bought Saigon Green and Tiger to taste something new. We were asked whether we wanted to drink it inside or take away, we decided to stay. After a few minutes we felt like finishing the beer at the beach, but the waiter insisted that we stayed, so I reckon that the bottle deposit has to be quite high. Frankly speaking, both beers tasted the same to us: very mild and very much to our liking as we are not great fans of strong and bitter Polish beer. The best thing about beer in Vietnam is that it is always served properly cooled. We decided that we have already had enough, since we had to wake up at six the day after, to go to the other part of the tour: the floating market. We went back to the place were bus dropped us, hoping to catch a Malinh taxi on our way. Unfortunately we didn’t see any and we didn’t even have the number to call, apart from the fact, that phone calls in Vietnam are very expensive for Europeans. We noticed a police officer and decided to ask for help in catching a cab, were it as crazy as it might sound. The old guy was very friendly and helpful, but neither did he speak English nor did he know how to use his cell phone. He called for a young, plump boy standing nearby to help him and then raised his thumb and left. We were quite sceptical about what would happen next, but not only did a taxi come in five minutes, it was also a Malinh taxi and we paid as little as 40,000 VND to go back to our hotel in the suburbs. We had a lot of fun in Can Tho and you definitely have to go there, if you visit the Mekong Delta, you will find one of the best street food in whole Vietnam.