I have a horn and I know how to use it!

Ho Chi Minh City Travel Blog

 › entry 60 of 62 › view all entries
After retreiving my passport the previous day (with visa!), I was picked up in a shuttle bus and then transferred to the big bus that would take us to Ho Chi Minh City. I have had a few bus experiences now and the buses never quite live up to the pictures shown at travel agencies. The visa guy sold me my bus ticket and had convinced me to pay the extra US$2 to get a seat on the best bus (for a total ticket price of US$11 for a 7 hour ride). I was a little skeptical as to whether it would actually be a nice bus.

To our relief, the bus lived up to its expectations, which included air conditioning (so cold I needed a long sleeved shirt!), a toilet, and big seats since each row was made up of two seats, aisle and then one seat .. so no sitting next to strangers!

The best word to describe the road is bumpy. In my mind I pictured a freshly paved highway, but instead got missing chunks of pavement, country road. For one part of the trip, the bus boarded a barge that transported us across a river. The driver was not afraid to use his horn, and being the driver of a bus, one of the largest, if not the largest, vehicle on the road, he automatically got the right of way and made sure everyone else on the road knew it!

Arriving at the Cambodian border, we had to get off the bus, show our passports to immigration and then get back on the bus. The bus then pulled up along side the customs check point. The bus assistant got out, lifted the doors for access to the bags, and the customs official basically laughed him off as if to say "like I really care what you have in those bags". Ah well, that made things a lot easier!

Arriving on the Vietnam side was a bit more of a hassle. We each had to collect our bags and go inside the immigration building. Another bus had previously arrived so there were lots of people waiting. There was no queue, just lots of backpackers and their bags waiting around for whatever was going to happen, to happen (there's a real lack of communication around here). We came to find out that the bus assistant had filled out all of our arrival/departure cards and had handed over our passports. Eventually we were called one by one to pick up our passports, that is, if you could hear your name being called. By the time the last person got on the bus it had probably taken close to an hour.

Crossing into Vietnam, you could really tell you were in a different country. Comparing Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Phen is like comparing apples and oranges, but even the countryside is much more developed and less poor than its Cambodian neighbour.

We were dropped off near "Backpacker Central" and accommodation was easy to find, especially when a woman came by and convinced me to follow her to a guesthouse. It turned out to be good enough for US$12 per night so I took it.

I attempted to venture out for a walk around the city, but wasn't feeling well enough, so I returned to the guesthouse. I did get the chance to cross a couple busy roads though. The trick to crossing the street is to walk at a constant pace and let the motorbikes go around you. So far it's worked, although because the country's still celebrating Tet, there are way less motorbikes on the road than usual. It should be interesting to see what it's like once the 3 million motorbikes in the city are back on the road!
Bluenosergirl says:
Are you still traveling Shauna?
Posted on: Mar 06, 2010
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!