Cambodia to Vietnam
Trip Start Mar 12, 2010
32Trip End Sep 17, 2010
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The trip to the Thai/Cambodian border which was uneventful until we reached the Cambodian border control for whom we had prepared $20 US crisp notes x 4 for each passport. After filling in the appropriate forms we went to the window to pay and submit our passports for stamping and it was suggested that another 100 000 baht would be appropriate. We knew that it is only $20 US as we have entered Cambodia previously, so Paul pointed to his occupation and said ‘No!’ and all mention of extra money was forgotten! We became instant friends and had a chat and Paul had his photo with them which is his mission in every country we visit!
We then hired a taxi for US $35 dollars to Siem Reap which was uneventful though scary until we got to the outskirts and our taxi driver wanted us to get out and catch a tuk tuk to the hotel though we had agreed initially to be dropped at our accommodation. We weren't aware that he wanted us to get out until we asked him why we had stopped. He merely said "tuk tuk" and looked the other way. I told him that he would take us directly to the hotel or he would not get paid just as an English speaking tuk tuk driver sauntered over - that he had called on his mobile while driving into Siem Reap
We visited with our friends and Wendy from SALT orphanage the next day and caught up with some of the kids. Many had left for school holidays. I was asked if I would like to help immunise 140 kids the next day which Paul agreed would be a great idea – NICE!. Sunday, myself with a Asian doctor with 4 - 10cm hairs growing from a mole on his face immunised 140 kids in two hours. Only a few little babies cried, all the others were very brave - I was impressed. They all stood watching and waiting for their turn which would psych most people out. It was like a spectator sport with the kids lining the window and cheering the others on – maybe sussing out which person inflicted the least pain for their turn!
August 23rd saw us on another "dodgey" bus to Phnom Penh, which really isn't that far but took all day and was another experience
Once arriving we caught a tuk tuk to our hotel which was 10 mins out of town - oops! Nice pool, but too far for going in and out all the time but couldn't change booking as we had booked online. So we stayed and swam in the pool, tuks tuks into town and after 3 nights repositioned in town. We visited a number of places in Phnom Penh, the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek and of course the boys sent out to the rifle range and used an M1 - they blew the watermelon to bits and our budget too. It would appear that the prices are now fixed and 30 bullets each cost $50 US dollars. Expensive I thought as it didn't take very long but the boys were pretty stoked hitting the watermelons we bought on the way out - they do look impressive been shot and exploding
26th August caught a bus (Mekong Express) to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon to the locals who do not acknowledge communisms hold) where we were met by the local guesthouse owner who wanted us to stay in his place. We agreed on $20 US a night for a room with a/c, supposedly wifi but the lines were down and satellite t.v. We visited the Remnants Museum which has graphic pictures and is quite biased as to allied forces and the damage in war. One needs to have an open mind and remember the perspective from which the war is told. There are never winners in war and this is reinforced everywhere we go that has experienced it. We went to the Old Palace which was interesting and we had to stay longer than planned as it was pouring with rain outside so we just chilled for a little before catching a taxi to our guesthouse. Found a nice coffee/ food shop opposite where the bus pulls in, called The Pearl which was air conditioned, had great food and coffee and a clean toilet and best yet it had a guard out the front and closed doors which meant no hawkers could pester you whilst you ate - always more enjoyable. Phom was a great waiter and very helpful.
29th August we visited the Chui Chui Tunnels which was on a little coaster bus tour
30th August we caught a bus (again not the company we thought we had purchased an open ticket for, word of advice - make them give you the ticket once purchased, not before you board the bus in the morning before you go!) this time to Muine a coastal town. It was so nice to see the beach again and have a cooling breeze and swim in the surf and nice little pool which looked out over the ocean. The bike taxi drivers gave us good information on the hotel. We spent a few days just chilling and did do a tour in a jeep for an afternoon which took us to some red gorge, a natural spring, and a fishing village as well as some white sand dunes for $20 US. We got blown to bits off the sand dunes and our pieces of plastic that we "hired" off the kids didn't work so well down the dunes. Paul dived over and went head first then face planted and did a flip!! Nice! I told him he was not getting any younger! Maybe we should have payed the kids to show us the best place to go down and the technique but we didn't!