Bus to Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh Travel Blog› entry 49 of 62 › view all entries
I considered the two-day boat trip from Ho Chi Minh City back to Phnom Penh like I took last year. That was a memorable journey which alternated between a variety of small river boats and busses through the Mekong Delta. The $22 fare included all transportation, an overnight hotel room, and side-trips to visit a floating village, a fish farm, a coconut candy factory, and a Vietnamese Islamic mosque. Most of the route snaked through dense jungle past remote fishing villages and primitive huts until reaching the wide and busy Mekong River. But now, with just three weeks remaining, I felt pressed for time and decided to divide it between Sihanoukville and Ko Chang. I bought a $10 bus ticket to Phnom Penh.
Our bus followed mid-day traffic south from District 1, hooked around the Ton Son Nhaut airbase (now Saigon Airport), then toward the west.
I looked for prominent hotels as the bus passed through Cu Chi. Tours of the famous Cu Chi tunnels always intrigued me but originate and end in Ho Chi Minh City. It would be nicer to make this a stopover since the town is right on the route between HCMC and Phnom Penh. I don't particularly like time on the road and prefer to keep backtracking to a minimum. If I did the Cu Chi tour this year I would be backtracking during a backtrack. I'll dig out a solution on a future visit.
Humidity was high and the heat blistering as we reached the Moc Bai border crossing.
When the bus reached the Mekong River we had about a fifteen minute wait for the ferry. All of the passengers remained onboard while the notorious beggars tapped on our windows seeking sympathy and attention. They seemed a needy lot but if one were given a handout, the others would stampede.
Sometimes I'll hand a beggar leftovers from a meal or offer a cigarette - they're not choosy - but if they want only money, they're frauds and there are many of those.
I didn't see the girl with handless stumps and wondered what became of her. The bus finally drove onto the ferry.
The six hour ride to Phnom Penh took seven and finally lurched into the city near the main market. I got a tuk tuk to the familiar Wooly Rhino for $2 and checked into a $7 room with a window - not for a view but for morning light. I wanted an early bus to Sihanoukville.
[In 2006, I spent a couple of days in Phnom Penh and will post a few pictures from that trip here. No trip through Phnom Penh would be complete without a visit to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum to glimpse what the people of Cambodia endured from April 17, 1975 until January 7, 1979 under the horrific Khmer Rouge regime led by Pol Pot.]