So much for ‘the luck of the Irish’ when it comes to border crossings. It took us two full days to make the journey from Sihanoukville in Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in Vietnam, typically done in one day.
Having learned from our previous border crossings we stayed well clear of the travel agents and booked our own taxi to the border. It was equally eventful…
Here’s how it went:
Two hours into the journey the driver – who was supposedly fluent in English but couldn't speak a word – tried to explain that his brakes needed replacing.
He said it would take 15 mins, but and an hour later they hadn't even taken off a wheel, so he said that another driver would take us. Shit – what do you do only go along with it – it’s not like you can vent your frustrations reading from a translation book.
This was Cambodia’s take on Kwik Fit.
As you can see they were well equipped…
Another hour or two into the journey, the driver veered off the main road onto a red dirt track. We were a little apprehensive but were reassured that this was the route to the Ha Tien Border. It looks ok in the photo, but it was rather a rough ride. We did however get some nice pics of the countryside which I’ll upload later.
Then we happened upon a muddy patch that was impassable, apparently. Conveniently enough there were several motorbilkes waiting on hand to take us the rest of the leg, but at an additional cost – smell something fishy? We were adamant that the car would pass and, if it were to get stuck, we would be more than willing to push.
Having learned from previous experiences, we had taken note of the firm’s telephone number and had called them. We explained the situation to the ‘boss’ who then spoke to the driver. After the conversation had ended, he was seriously pissed, he leapt into the car put it in gear an and floored it! We were pissing ourselves laughing, the car leapt and bounced everywhere, but made it in the end, much to the disgust of the taxi and motor bike drivers .
So on we go.
This was rather amusing, we came across these guys erecting a Gazebo in the middle of the road.
A good 20min discussion to come up with this solution.
Having arrived safely at the Cambodian ‘check out’ border, we had to get motor bike taxis to Vietnamese ‘check in’ border and on to the buss station – a further $10.
We were told at the bus station (12pm) that all the busses for Saigon had gone for the day but we could get a private mini bus for a mere $200 – ya, right!
We ended up getting a public bus part of the way to Rach Gia and arrived late in the afternoon. We decided to camp for the night and get the early bus the following morning to Saigon – a journey of 6hrs. Three hours in the bus started to overheat, so we had to stop every 15mins to top up with water. Eventually the radiator gave way and we were stranded about 1.5hrs from the city.
Eventually we were put on another bus but were taken to the other end of the city and had no choice but to get yet another taxi to our chosen hotel.
Finally we had arrived at out destination safely but tired and in need of some really cold beers.
Now you know why many travellers fly rather than go overland through the borders. We still wouldn’t change a thing, this is what travelling is all about and when we think back, we can’t help but smile.
We have some great video footage that we will share with you one day!
Now it’s time to explore Vietnam a little more.