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Published: July 23rd 2012
Later start for us today, so leisurely packing and headed down to the ferry port. The 12 pm ferry was of course not due to leave until 1pm, but hey this is Cambodia its to be expected! Lovely journey to Vietnam, down the Mekong River, instantly convinced that although more expensive, this was the right way to reach the border! Got to see lots of beautiful countryside and villages on the side of the river, the boat was really quiet, with only 8 people on it, so we could move around. The border was great, no queues, just a shack to stamp out of Cambodia, and a floating office to get you into Vietnam, stark contrast to getting in to Cambodia!
We arrived in Chau Doc at around 5.30pm and headed blindly for the hotel we had already booked, with no map! Luckily everyone on the boat seemed to be heading in one direction, so we followed them just in case, and discovered they were all heading for the same hotel, which was full, and we were the only ones who had bookings! This is what we are learning about lonely planet...it directs everyone to the same hotels,
sometimes its a gem, like this one, but you will always need to book ahead! Chau Doc is a really small town on the river, it seems to be based around a market, which we had to walk through to reach our hotel. It was the first time we had seen a market really geared out for locals, not tourists, so much fresh seafood, still alive in bowls of water and the biggest lobsters and crayfish we have ever seen!
Our hotel room was lovely, with a balcony but we had an unfortunately loud lizard in our room which kept us awake quite a while trying to work out what on earth it was! we went out for some tea on the evening and only managed to find a couple of restaurants, we ordered some Vietnamese crispy noodles as we thought we were ordering something local. Bad idea....this appears to be literally hard deep fried noodles, not pleasant. by 9.15 we were the only people in the restaurant and it was shutting around us! the only other bars we had seen where a long walk down some dark alleys so we decided to give it a miss, and got
some beer from the shop and headed in for an early night!
The hotel booked us on a bus to Saigon, so that was all nice and straight forward, and we were already getting a better impression of Vietnam. Not too early a start for the Saigon bus, and we were picked up from the hotel again. However we were woken at 5am when public announcements started on intercoms on the street outside, we now know why everything closes so early on a night!! We were taken out to another out of town location and managed to work out which bus we were on, as no one seemed to be speaking any English. This did not get any easier, as we were the only westerners on the bus and all announcements were in Vietnamese. When we stopped for a food break, we tried to ask how long we were there for, and were initially ignored, and then taken to a clock and had a time pointed out. We wanted a snack and found what looked like a cake stand, and just picked some random things. I have never eaten something that my mouth couldn't cope with before then! Brioche
type bread, with coconut, chives and cheese....too much! Managed to get into Saigon about 8pm, after lots of stopping and starting to pick up and drop of locals...i see a pattern here!
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