Our trip to Can Tho was very nearly a no can do. We arrived in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) tired, dirty, and hot, and the thought of staying put somewhere for 6 nights was quite appealing. Plus the process to get there was going to be tricky, plus we didn't know anything about the city and couldn't remember why we'd booked there, plus our Homestay was only accessible by boat which meant we had to work out what to do with our luggage, plus the kids were getting a bit over it etc etc.
The thing about excuses is that we when we try and come up with reasons not to do something, we forget about the very reasons why we wanted to do them in the first place. Luckily for us we brought a very wise 13 year old with us on this adventure, who said - once we'd finished outlining our reasons not to go to Can Tho - "but I thought the whole point of this trip was to actually do things, not stay in one place and go shopping." And that is how we found ourselves on a boat on the Mekong Delta, heading towards our Homestay and what turned out to be one of the fun-est days of our adventure.
Rather than the sleepy backwater we had expected, Can Tho is a city of 1.2m people and the largest city on the Mekong Delta. Our Homestay, however, was away from the hustle and bustle of the city and gave us more of a taste of 'real' Vietnamese life than we'd had in the bigger tourist destinations.
We kept Dylan going through most of the morning with a promise of a visit to a chocolate farm in the afternoon. We aren't quite sure what we were expecting here - but what we certainly weren't expecting was to meet Mr Diamond ("just call me Diamond") and his boutique chocolate operation. Diamond is the epitome of everything we've come to love about Vienamese people: resourceful, resilient, generous and highly entrepreneurial. In 1961, when he was 12, Diamond's Dad brought back some Cacao seeds from a trip to Malaysia.
He also brought back a book about how to cultivate and process the cacao into chocolate. It was written in French. So 12 year old Diamond and his sister learned French so they could read the book. 55 years later he is a boutique chocolatier who exports cacao beans around the world and who makes his own chocolate and an incredible chocolate wine (made from the liquor from fermented cacao beans).
Our time in Can Tho was a brilliant way to (nearly) finish our tour of Vietnam,and a great reminder that sometimes our best experiences can happen when we least expect them to - and that if we don't make an effort then we will find it hard to have any fun at all.
*I realise that on a scale of 1-10, where 1 is dreadful and 10 is amazing that this title is about a minus 100, but with only 2 days left in Vietnam I'm running out of time to think up excellent headlines. So you'll just have to deal with it.