Day 51: Cambodia bound. First stop Kep!
08:15 — Taxi pick up from our Phu Quoc hotel.
09:05 — Arrival to Phu Quoc ferry port.
10:00 — Ferry departs on rather choppy seas!
11:15 — Dock into Ha Tien, mainland Vietnam.
11:45 — 19 people board a 14 persons minibus.
12:00 — Arrive at travel company's 'office' to prep visas.
13:15 — Another minibus departs to border (10mins away).
14:05 — Stamped out of Vietnam and stamped into Cambodia.
15:10 — We're still at the border!?!?!?! We could've left ages ago if the minibus hadn't broken down!
15:45 — New minibus turns up. But has no petrol so takes the shortcut via the salt fields (and we soon realise why all the minibuses break down as it's the bumpiest ride ever...!!)
16: 30 — We arrive to Kep, hurrah!
We probably should've mentioned that Phu Quoc and Kep are actually only 35miles away from each other. But they like to make it extra challenging for tourists like us.
Claire: Despite all the waiting around, we got to see some real local life on the bus journeys which was pretty ace. The Cambodian countryside is beautiful and all of the houses are painted different colours and look really well kept. The salt fields along the coastline were really fascinating, I think we'll try and visit them again ourselves if we get a chance. First impressions of Cambodia are pretty good!
Our bus drops us in town and we walk the coastal path for 15mins or so to get to our hotel. It's a national holiday here today so the beach is jam packed with Cambodians, their family picnics set up on multicoloured mats all round the coastal path, for ages. Loaded with rucksacks, my camera was bedded deep but I really regret not stopping to take a photo of the amazing atmosphere. Especially as we saw MONKEYS!!!! Must've been about 30 of them that had came down from the mountain jungle because of the amount of food on offer. We walked past so many, sat on the roadside eating papaya or rustling through rubbish bins for leftovers. I fear they won't be there again tomorrow, but we'll see.
Our hotel is idyllic, one of our best yet. The most luscious gardens and right on the coast so we can see the sea too. I think we're going to like it here!!
Gav's day 51 takeaway:
- Having done a fair bit of forum searching, I knew getting into Cambodia across a relatively quiet border crossing from a small Vietnamese island was never going to be the smoothest journey.
- We hedged our bets on a 'travel company' being able to organise the stages of the journey which would land us 35 miles from where we started (albeit you have to go the long way round).
- Having read many reviews on this type of journey, the void between what us westerners have come to expect from this type 'service' to what we can actually expect is substantial.
- It's funny reading how Martha, 55 from New Jersey seems to think she'll get the same kind of service as an actual proper travel company in the states.
- Martha is a fictional character.
- In hindsight, we could probably have managed the four stages of journey ok by ourselves and saved an hour or two. But now it's over and forgotten about, it's quite nice to look back at the little incidents that happened along the way that wouldn't otherwise have been:
- Two taxi drivers turning up to ask for Michael, only after the second one did we suspect they might be referring to the middle name from my passport.
- Watching the pissed off faces of our fellow tourists once they realise the e-Visa they'd paid for isn't valid at this border point and they'd have to go through and pay for the whole process again!
- Being greeted by young men looking more like they might sell you knock off sportswear than get you over the Cambodian border.
- Handing over our money and passports to young men who look more likely to sell you knock off sportswear than get you over the Cambodian border.
- Being herded from one place to the next (sometimes down the street, sometimes across the room), with little or no communication as to what is or might be happening.
- Watching half of our group get to go to the border 45 minutes before we do only to get there an hour later and realise they're still there anyway.
- Seeing the Swedish teenage boy freak out when the van door he was sat next to kept opening mid drive.
- Watching the panicked Swedish parents demand the driver stop and close the door.
- Watching the panicked Swedish parents reluctantly accept the door will never stay shut given the general state of the knackered old banger we're being shipped in.
- And watching the Swedish mothers face scrunch in anticipated horror at the speed in which our final driver attacked a the dirt track road that was better suited to monster trucks than a small people carrier.
- But it's ok because that six hour ordeal to move 35 miles is long behind me now and I can chuckle at how frustratingly fed-up we were at the time, but actually it really wasn't all that bad!