Sunday, May 3, 2009

A trip to Can Tho by speed boat

On the way back to HCMC

We wanted to avoid the traffic during the holidays, so we decided to take the so called speed boat to Can Tho. It's run by Thanh Nhan Company, has 46 seats and even a toilet on board. You get 0,33 ml of drinking water and a towel. The estimated time is 3.15 hours. That's the theory.

The way to Can Tho took 4,5 hours. The seats are very narrow, it's not comfortable. The toilet is basic, and because the back of the boat is packed with people, hard to step into the cabin. Even if the text on the ticket says that "foul smelling products" are not allowed, we saw the captain bringing durian with him (which has a horrible smell).
The boat has life jackets on board, under the seat. For those who are without a seat there are more life jackets at the back. However they will not reach them in case of emergency.

The way to Can Tho was a long trip, but acceptable. The way back wasn't even this. Our seats were double booked we and a british couple had tickes for the same seat numbers. They gave us other seats then.

The boat was totally overpacked. At least 70 people were on board, sitting in the aisle. When a British passenger wanted to make a picture as a proof, a Vietnamse passenger tried to block him (as he did block me)
A passenger stopped me to make a picture

After nearly 2 hours the boat stopped out of a sudden. We were running out of fuel. Because we were heavier then calculated we did use more fuel - and couldn't make it till the gasstation. A Captains failure. We waited 45 minutes until a small boat provided us with some Diesel, enough to go to the next gas station.
Getting fuel

The trip took 5 hours in total. No way to reach the toilet. In case of emergency most of the people would be trapped. There is just a small door in the front, and one, but blocked by people and their belongings. From the point of safty, it is dangerous to take the boat. Especially when there is heavy rain and the captain is without any clear view, but still speeding.

There were some accidents recently on the Mekong, and people died. Companies like Thanh Nhan don't follow safety standards, They violate Vietnamese law. I hope authorities will investigate this and take measures.

Oh and this facts are excactly the reason why foreign tourist don't come back to Vietnam. They may do a trip like this once as adventure, but never twice. The lack of infrastructure is still the biggest obstacle for the Vietnam tourism.


hueyco said...

I seem to remember by bus from Can Tho to HCM City takes most of the day from my tour in 2007, is it still save time to take this route?


Thomas Wanhoff said...

No, normally the Open Tour Bus takes around 4 hours, depending on the traffic.