As with most of my decisions when I am travelling, my journey from Cambodia to Vietnam was booked just one day in advance.
You can reach Vietnam from Cambodia through various border crossings. Many choose to leave from Phnom Penh, and get into Hoh Chi Minh City (HCMC). I did eventually want to get to HCMC, but after some extensive research (The Lonely Planet), and talking with other travellers, I decided that I wanted to visit The Mekong Delta.
Armed with my Vietnamese Visa, that I got in less than 2 hours, in Sihanoukville, I set off from my hostel with 6 others just after 8am, in the back of a mini van. It was comfortable and air conditioned, and I thought that the 8 hour journey would be a breeze. I was due to arrive around 4 or 5pm.
Our journey to the border at Ha Tien took 2 hours, after stopping in the seaside village of Kep.
The border was the roughest, and most non official looking border, I had ever been to. Even the ‘Cambodia’ sign was still being painted, and there was just a small hut, with several officers sitting outside, seemingly not doing too much.
Our passports were taken off us by our mini van driver, and off he went, with no real explanation of what was going on (as is usually the case). So I sat down in the sun, and watched as a number of local people crossed from Vietnam, into Cambodia with various things loaded up onto their motorbikes, and bicycles. A man sat in a small shed like box, with a rope attached to it, and intermittently pulled a gate out of the way, so that people could pass through.
After about an hour, the driver returned, with our passports. We were allowed back on the bus, and driven the 2 seconds across to the Vietnamese side. At this point our passports were still not with us. We paid $1 for a health check, filled in a customs form, and waited another 30 minutes.
Our bags had to be taken out of the mini van, and we carried them across, and one by one our passports were returned to us, with our stamp that allowed us into the country, which we showed to two others at another hut at the side of the road.
And that was it – we had got into Vietnam. Seemed pretty simple. We were all then driven another 30 minutes or so to the town of Ha Tien, and dumped at a travel agency/cafe – were our original tickets were exchanged for new tickets.
After an hour of waiting, in which I was able to exchange some US dollars to Vietnamese Dong, and charge my computer, I was shoved into an overcrowded local bus. I was told the journey would take another 5 hours. There was very little room for my legs (and I am tall!), air conditioning, or any form of comfortable seat. The bus bounced along, with various people crammed up the centre on plastic stools – which seems to be the case with a lot of buses in South East Asia, Laos to Cambodia being one of them.
I previously talked about the scariest bus ride of my life, but this has to be the most uncomfortable. We stopped just once for a toilet break, but for the most part, I plugged in my iPod and closed my eyes, waiting for it to be over.
I finally arrived in the busy city of Can Tho about 8pm, and jumped on the back of a dodgy motorbike taxi driver to be taken to my hotel.
Good Evening Vietnam!