Coach to Cambodia
Phnom Penh Travel Blog› entry 9 of 20 › view all entries
February 1st and a last look around central Saigon, including the bookshop where titles included "Wales: Churches, Houses, Gardens" and "My Potty Book for Boys." Then a walk past the Saigon Debenhams (yes, really!) to a sunset cocktail on the 23rd floor of the Sheraton, with great views over the city, and a final tasty Vietnamese dinner at somewhere a lot cheaper nearby.
Next morning, alarm at 5.15am, check out from hotel at 6.00, and a taxi this time to the bus stop for the 6.30am through bus to Phnom Penh. A punctual departure and a slow but steady trip through the 1000s of scooter riders and motorcyclists heading for work, and a quicker journey once out of Saigon. The Sinh Tourist Bus "fixer" collected our passports and the fees for Cambodian visas - we already had ours, e-visas obtained online. Border reached at 8.30ish. We had to get off, unload all our luggage to be scanned through emigration, then at the border control (2 booths only open) our fixer called a name and waved a passport once it had been exit-stamped. Hil was about 4th. Mike was last of the 35 on the coach and had begun to give up hope. Re-load luggage, drive 100 yds to Cambodian immigration. E-visas go to a separate desk, but the official took so long to boot up his computer and then check and stamp passports, that some "buy on the spot" visa applicants got through first. A passport check from a dour woman, and a form about swine flu, and back to the bus and into Cambodia, around 90 minutes after arrival at the Vietnamese border. It all keeps a lot of officials employed.
The bus swung up a dirt road to our first Cambodian cafe and loo stop, and money changer. No bank here, but an eficient way to change our Dong into Riel. Back to the main road, past 5 or 6 large casinos. Gambling is apparently illegal in communist Vietnam, but not in democratic Cambodia. On to to Phnom Penh. The villages are obviously much poorer than in Vietnam. Most houses are on stilts with storage underneath. At about 11.30 we reached Neuk Leung to wait for the car ferry across the Mekong. Hawkers trying to sell roast quail, lotus seeds and sun glasses, and 2 blind beggars banged for attention on the side of the bus. After 15 minutes as traffic built up, we edged onto the ferry for the 10 minute crossing. Off again, and arrival in Phnom Penh at 1.00pm, as per timetable. Another very efficient Sinh Tourist journey.