La Tela di Carlotta
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Can Gio Forest with kids by speed boat (Vietnam)

Jan 10, 2020

Disclaimer: I reached out to Les Rives and they kindly gave us a discount on the whole tour, but I would have written this article no matter what. Good things have to be shared!

While in Ho Chi Minh City we explored The Can Gio Mangrove Forest  by speed boat with Les Rives, in my opinion the best company you can find for guided tours in the area. The attention to details, the privacy of the tour, the preparation of our guide Henry, the perfectly-paced stops and the fact that the kids absolutely loved it made this our favourite guided tour in Vietnam! But let’s go in order.

First, our best friends joined us all the way from Spain too spend a couple of weeks with us in Saigon:

4 adults and 4 kids (2, 3, 4 and 5) all the day out exploring the Can Gio Mangrove Forest… best day ever!

The tour departed somewhere in Ho Chi Minh City, but I wouldn’t remember where because Les Rives picked us up in a minivan straight in front of our place. Perfect!

The Mekong River is one of the longest rivers in the world, and it crosses 5 countries before getting to Vietnam where it has its delta. Vietnamese people don’t call it Mekong (mother of river), but they call it (translated) “night dragon river”.

As leaving Saigon, we passed the illegal houses along the river in district 4: the government is trying to relocate the people into apartments, but it’s taking a lot longer than expected, because they don’t want to leave. The owners of the houses use the river as their personal trash and sewage: sadly the whole area looks like a landfill, which brought up some interesting conversations with the kids.

District 4: all you see under the houses is trash. 

1st stop: riverside market

Thanks to Henry, our Les Rives guide, I learnt more about Vietnamese culture in this 1,5h interesting market tour than in 1,5 months in Vietnam. Also some bad, bad stuff, like people skinning frogs alive to sell them… Vietnam is full of contradictions, and life and traditions inspired a lot of important conversations about right and wrong with Oliver and Emily (then 4 and 3) in the 2 months that we lived there.

Bella was upset because she forgot her camera on the boat! 🙈

Henry told us lots of anecdotes, like the one about the fake money that you can buy from the market for funeral parades: they throw it out of a funeral car as it passes through the village (the whole village joins by walking behind the car).

2nd stop: mangrove forest and bat sanctuary

This gorgeous forest was bombarded in the Vietnam war (here in Vietnam they call it "American war"), so they replanted it entirely in 1979, and little by little animals came back.

The tour is in the classic wooden canoe driven by a person standing at the back.

There are red and black mangroves here and Henry explained that we can tell them apart by looking at the roots: black mangrove’s roots come out of the ground, almost as little snorkels that the tree uses to breathe.

The bat sanctuary is reached by a stunning boat ride (with kids, this might be a good time to have some snacks): the bats are hard to spot, but Henry was very good at directing our eyes to the right direction.

3rd stop: “Monkey Island”

We stopped to see some monkeys and brought the grandma (30 years old) some bananas: the rest fo the monkeys are a bit mean – also towards the grandma – so no bananas for them. Ok, maybe just a few.

4th stop: “fishing” crocodiles!

Henry then took us to a crocodile sanctuary where about 40 crocodiles live “free”, only restricted at the edges of the sanctuary. In fact, crocodiles are not free anywhere in Vietnam, they’re all in nature reserves.

We were too busy being amazed, so I have very few photos.

We got put on a boat and sent out at river to fish for crocs! Just kidding, of course, but we did get a close ancounter with crocodiles: we fed them by attaching little pieces of eel to the tip of a fishing rod, and waiting for the crocodile to… SNAP! The sound, the power, the elegance of these animals… this is something we will never ever forget!

5th stop: Vietnamese meal

The last stop was… food! The boat took us to a remote place in the middle of nowhere where Les Rives set up a private terrace with a table and chairs and where locals catch, grow and cook delicious Vietnamese food. It’s 100% private, and simply WOW!

The kids got to do some fishing with Henry.

On the way back, all kids fell asleep and we had a super relaxing boat ride… enjoying some more fruit, coffee, and cold water on a hot day. Just perfect!

Ps. And if this is not enough, the tour is now 100% eco-friendly: instead of plastic cups, they provide numbered glass bottles for each guests that we got to take home. What a great idea!

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The blog

I write mainly about Montessori, parenthood, and multilingualism. Here are some recent posts.

Montessori
One day a few years ago my husband came home and said, "Why don't we put a mattress on the floor in the baby room? It'd be much more natural". "Never" was my reply. That's how our Montessori journey started. Since then we've been living, breathing and applying the philosophy at home day in and day out, starting from ourselves. Because educating children starts from the parents.
Bean and seed mosaic
I'm not perfect. I'm aware
DIY yoga cards for kids
Children at the restaurant: let's recalibrate expectations
Don't ask your children to share their toys
Those "good job" that erode our children's confidence
Our Montessori birthday
Two alternatives to screens that my kids love
Using fear and threats to control children is never right!
"Stop crying!" doesn't work
Living sustainably
Living sustainably for me doesn’t only mean to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It means to make decisions that are sustainable for our planet, the people on it, but also for our life, our lifestyle, and our happiness. It means to take any daily chance to evolve and be happier, healthier, kinder, more responsible and more caring human beings—the only sustainable way for a meaningful future.
Face yoga is an act of self love
Why you should wear the same outfit twice on Instagram
The power of creating habits (and why you should do it, even if you then break them!)
Responsible eating is the diet of the future (Would you like to teach it to your kids?)
The power of NOT complaining: can you do it for a whole month?
Clean up your planet, please!
Infographic: 8 steps to switch to cloth nappies (a guide for reluctant parents)
A personal note on happiness
A personal note on social media
A change of life always widens your horizons
New to La Tela?
I’ve prepared collections on various topics that I’ve written over the years. Perhaps you’ll find one that interests you.

Travel

We sold everything to travel the world for two years. We're currently in New Zealand.

Books

In 2020 I wrote 4 books for the Italian collection “Gioca and Impara con il metodo Montessori” curated by Grazia Honegger Fresco. The collection is a project by Il Corriere della Sera and La Gazzetta dello Sport.

We also implemented the workshops of the last 15 volumes of the collection with Oliver and Emily.

Podcast

On my podcast, “Educare con calma”, I talk about various topics, from Montessori to sustainability. Only in Italian!

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Why La Tela di Carlotta?
I dreamed of the name La Tela di Carlotta. One morning I woke up and in my dreams I had created a blog named just like the American novel (Charlotte's Web). Many years and endless ups and downs later, this web of thoughts and stories is my work. It took me a long time to understand what kind of online presence I wanted and today I know: I'm transparent, I show real life, I don't advertise, I only recommend sustainable brands (and not only because they pay me) and I believe in the value of my blog and my courses—because if we don't believe in the value of our work, no one will believe in it for us.
Carlotta
Carlotta dreaming of La Tela
I know! I don't want it to be over yet either.