The Mekong Delta slowboat ticket office was at the top of the pier, and it was a pretty simple transaction – all I needed was my passport and the fee in cash. I was assigned a seat number, although in practice these are arbitrary. Here there was a bit of waiting, but I used the chance to laden myself with snacks at the nearby stall – something I’d highly recommend, as there aren’t exactly shops on the river. I also introduced myself to a few of my fellow passengers, some of whom were on organised group tours and some solo-travelling.
The boat left around eleven, but it’s better to board a little earlier. You want to be near the front or middle, as the engines are at the back and are deafening enough to turn this idyllic journey into something altogether more stressful. Some boats have fairly uncomfortable wooden pew-type seats, whereas some have chairs repurposed from coaches, so a travel pillow can be very useful. Mine was the former, and it did mean a lot of shifting from cheek to cheek, but for the price it was more than cosy enough. Although the actual ride down the river is fairly smooth, the boat rocks fairly substantially during passenger boarding and cargo loading, so if you’re a bit nervous about sailing you might want to prepare yourself.
Although it had only been a few short hours since I’d woken up, I felt like I’d already packed in multiple days’ worth of travelling. But now I knew I could sit back, relax, and take in the river scenery. The nature of the boat means shade and a constant breeze to battle the pulsing Southeast Asian sun, so it was a pleasant journey from the getgo. While my surroundings were a delight, the views were fairly consistent throughout the first day, so I got through a few pages of my book. However, I also had a deck of cards, possibly the most useful item any traveller can have if they want to socialise. The cards quickly made me popular among other passengers looking for something to do, and soon there were a few different groups of us all getting to know each other.