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Published: June 11th 2017
We are in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam! We left the Townview 2 Hotel in Phnom Penh this morning about 8 am. We drove in vans to the bus depot, where we boarded the "Mekong Express Limousine Bus" for our journey to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). While not up to limousine standards, it was a pretty comfortable bus, much more comfortable than the mini buses we have been riding in. We were given a bottle of water and two buns each, and off we went. Oh yes, the bus also had a perfectly adequate happy loo, which was much appreciated. The bus staff also take care of passports and border crossing formalities. Plus the Mekong Express has wifi!
It is a mostly sunny day today and the scenery was pretty going through Cambodia. Lush green rice fields, stilt houses, small villages. This road was vastly better than the road to Siem Reap. It was two lanes, and the bus basically drove down the centre line, passing motorbikes, carts pulled by cows or water buffalo and slower vehicles, pulling over into the right lane when required as oncoming vehicles bore down. I forgot to mention this before, but it is
a law in Cambodia when passing vehicles (including bikes, motorbikes, carts) the faster vehicle must toot its horn. So there is pretty much constant tooting. Unlike in Bangkok where I don't think I ever heard a horn.
We drove for around an hour and a half, then took a ferry across the Mekong River. The bus drove on the ferry but we couldn't stay on the bus (apparently the ferry capsized some years ago and a bus went in the river and all the passengers drowned, so new rule, passengers must get off bus and walk on ferry). The ferry ride was short, maybe 10 minutes, which was good because it was sweltering hot. On the other side of the river we re-boarded the bus (yay for air conditioning) and were off.
After another hour or so we stopped for lunch at a small place close to the Cambodia-Vietnam border. We then drove to the border where we got off the bus and proceeded on foot. The border itself was in two parts, first the leaving Cambodia part, which was quick and easy. Then we had to get all our luggage and wait for our name to be
called, retrieve our passports, and put our luggage through a scanner, and that was it. Must easier and faster than the Poipet border crossing.
We re-boarded the bus (again thank god for air conditioning) and headed to HCMC. The Vietnam side of the border is much more built up than the Cambodia side. There was basically continuous urban development, with shops and restaurants lining the road. This was a four lane road with quite a bit of traffic. It was another 2 1/2 hours or so to the HCMC bus depot and I managed to doze a little bit. It was hard to tell where HCMC actually started because of the continuous urban development. Oh, and you would not believe the huge number of motorbikes.
We got off the bus and our luggage was loaded onto two cyclos (I can't believe the skinny Vietnamese driver can actually ride the loaded cyclo). We walked to our hotel, the Asian Ruby Central, about 10 minutes away. Did I mention it was sweltering hot? And I'm not sure we will be able to make it across the road without Sovann - the motorbikes and vehicles don't stop for pedestrians but weave
Ferry Crossing the Mekong
This was another ferry, but was the same as ours.
Our room is nice, and I'm hoping the shower has both decent water pressure and hot water! We'll see shortly. We'll have a shower, then meet the group at 6:30 for our farewell dinner. Our tour is a combination tour and the Cambodia part of the tour ends tomorrow and the Vietnam part of the tour starts with a group meeting tomorrow at 6 pm. We have 14 in our group and 12 are continuing on the Vietnam part of the tour (all except for Sandra and Danielle who we will miss). We will see if anyone will be joining our group for just the Vietnam portion. We will also get a new tour leader, so tonight we will say good bye to Sovann. We will miss him a lot as he has been a great tour leader.
Our hotel in Phnom Penh had the 3 in 1 coffee packets, which we brought with us, and when we settled in our room we had a cup. Nummy.
Tomorrow is a free day (until the group meeting), and we have booked a day trip called "Mekong Discovery" through Intrepid's Urban Adventures. I think a few of
our group have also decided to go. I hope the weather will be as nice as today.
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