When in Vietnam...
Chau Doc Travel Blog› entry 14 of 43 › view all entries
March 8th, 2008 – by: worldcitizen
When we got to the border at Phnom Den, Cambodia, it was hot hot hot. We crowded into a room to get stamped out of Cambodia. This was another long computer-free process. I was among the first to finish and we left the stuffy room to stand outside in the limited shade.
I couldn't stand my big backpack at this point. I was thinking back to when I was packing it and regretting the fact that I didn't follow my instincts to take out more stuff. I wanted my suitcase. We kept having to move here and there and stand around. I didn't want to keep it on, but I was dreading having to set it down and pick it up again. But I still believed in the backpack and myself and hoped that it would eventually get easier to deal with.
We walked a while through no man's land to the Vietnam border at Tinh Bien where we filled out more forms. There was a big x-ray machine that the border officials told us was broken.
After the long border crossing process, we made it into Vietnam and headed to Chau Doc. Some of the first changes we noticed were how much healthier the livestock looked and how much greener it was in Vietnam.I guess in Vietnam they irrigate their rice fields to grow it year round. Cambodians typically don't have the money for this so they only grow in the rainy season.
We arrived to our hotel in Chau Doc, a cute place across the street from a market. Five of us decided to do a motorcyle tour of the city so we dropped off our stuff and went back down to exchange for some dong (Vietnamese currency) and meet the drivers. I didn't know where we were going on the tour and I had never been on a motorcycle before. I figured Vietnam would be a good place to ride one for the first time. In Vietnam, you don't pick your driver, they pick you. They all called out to us and put helmets on their choices. I was chosen by Mr. Speedy. We zipped through traffic ahead of the others in the group and I held on for dear life.
We zoomed up the side of a mountain and it was thrilling. It was all sharp curves and steep cliffs and I had a huge smile on my face the whole time, a combination of fear and joy. When we got to the top only one guy in our group arrived with us. As we were waiting for the others, a group of moto drivers kept trying to tell me something. The guy in my group showed me that I had a 10,000 dong bill (worth less than $1) sticking out of pocket. I pushed it back inside my pocket and they all smiled and gave me thumbs up. It was really nice that they were so concerned.
When the rest of the group got there, we went on one side of the mountain to check out the view and then around to the other side to see the sunset. The drivers who could speak English shared some history and showed us points of interest like the Cambodian border in the distance.
We regrouped and headed back to the hotel and I was there way before everyone else. It was a simple tour but it was awesome. When the others got back, we headed to the market across the street which was about to close. I wasn't interested in buying anything, so I checked out the food side and then head back to the hotel for a shower. As I was wandering through by myself, the people stared at me with wide eyes and waved. No one tried to sell me anything, they just wanted to know my name and where I was from and then they introduced themselves to me. The people of Chau Doc were incredibly charming and friendly and I'm happy we made a stop there.
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