Monday, January 19, 2009

Vietnam and Cambodia and then Vietnam Again Part 3

We arose at the home stay at about 6:30 in the morning to the sounds of roosters greeting the morning sun. It sounds so pleasant when phrased like that...Having arrived at night, we didn't have any real sense of where we were, so Jenni and David went for a quick walk along the path before breakfast. We were just in time to see the school kids dressed in their uniforms and off for their morning session. If you are thinking of doing a home stay in Vietnam, we recommend this place. The contact info is in the photo.

After breakfast we got back on the boat, and they took us across the river again to a brick factory. Again they use the rice husk to fuel the kilns' fire.
Then we hopped on our bikes for another 50-60km ride to a ferry that took us across the Mekong one last time. Then it was a few hour bus ride to Chau Doc near the Cambodia/Vietnam border. This was our last stop in Vietnam, and it was Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, during that day's ride one of the members of the group was cut off by a motorbike and she fell over. Thankfully she was not seriously injured, suffering bruises, scrapes and achy bones, and a pretty good fright. After checking into the hotel in Chau Doc, we all went out for Christmas Eve dinner at a floating restaurant out on the river. It was definitely sitting on pontoons and rocked up and down whenever a boat passed. Not David's idea of an evening out...but it was unique.

Highlights of the ride from the Mekong to Chau Doc:

The next day we started riding directly from the hotel, and it was about 30km to the border.

Sunrise Chau Doc

The day's riding was really good. We rode along rice paddies almost the whole way. It also included our first uphill ride, which had a nice long downhill. We arrived at the Vietnamese border and left the bus driver, truck driver, and "The Mechanic" in Vietnam. Linh came through with us all the way to the end. As we later found out, Linh left a few well-placed tips to ease the transition. We weren't allowed to photograph on the Vietnamese side, but as soon as we crossed over, "No problem." That really points to the differences between the countries.

Rice Paddies in Vietnam

Cambodian Border

We had purchased our visas before leaving Australia, but some members of the group had to buy them on the spot. The visas themselves only cost 20$, but in reality they were 25$. Part of the 5$ went to the guards, and then the rest went to the bigger fish so that the guards could keep their lucrative positions...We rode for about an hour to an hour and half along some very beautiful scenery even if it was along the highway. The rice paddies seemed to defy the border, running up against the mountains in the distance. David noticed while riding that the pedal felt like it was coming loose, and then about 20 minutes into the ride the whole pedal came flying off. Luckily nothing serious happened.

Welcome to Cambodia. You can hear the pedal squeaking in the background.

After riding we took the bus to a place called Sihanoukville. We stopped for lunch on the way at a dingy little restaurant in Ta Keo. The food was questionable but they did serve us free desert. It was sweet but the presentation was lacking. They tried to keep us entertained on the very long, very bumpy bus ride by at times playing 3rd generation copies of DVDs that skipped a lot and at other times playing the local radio (which was mostly European Christmas songs). There was even a music video that was possibly in Khmer (language spoken in Cambodia) and possibly filmed in Spain (a country in Europe).

Mmmmmm, may I have some more sir?

Sing along if you know the words!

To be continued....

1 comment:

primus said...

wow...thats just amazing!
im from germany and i definetley wanna move avoerseas in a few years or at least visit different countries in the world!
amazing what u guys did! :)