South of Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, the Mekong river reaches the sea and forms a huge delta. There are some well-worn tourist trails here, but Tra Vinh is too remote for that. I haven’t seen another westerner all day, and there are a lot of stares and hellos when I pass. There is the usual market in the center of town with the usual hustle and the usual smells, all for the locals with no souvenirs at all. Food is all karaoke bars and dodgy streetside food stalls. Vietnamese food is great, but if the average price of a meal is one euro there are limits.
They do have a couple of wonderful Buddhist shrines – rare in this communist country – and endless trails along the riverside. The river is central to everyone’s life here, and it’s full of boats of all kinds that have only one thing in common – they look as if a good kick would reduce them to a pile of floating rubble.