Saturday, April 19, 2008

Vietnam & Cambodia: Bus ride from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to Phnom Penh, Cambodia

The bus from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam to Phnom Penh, Cambodia is usually straightforward. We spent US$15 for it. The six-hour land trip is a very common route. And you can easily buy tickets anywhere in Vietnam. But for this trip, we encountered some problems.

We left Mui Ne at 1 a.m. for the five-hour trip to HCMC. We were to catch the 8 a.m. bus to PP hoping to be there by 2 p.m. I had always wanted to shop again at the Russian Market since they have a lot of great cultural souvenirs and export overruns there.

What I thought would be an easy border crossing turned out to be an irritating one. At the Vietnamese border, the immigration officer treated us shabbily. We were standing in front of him for almost 30 minutes and he was not minding us. At times, he was smirking. When asked if we were in the right line, he would answer "I'm busy" while passports of the people behind us were brought to him. We didn't budge until finally he entertained us after we reminded him that we could be left behind by the bus.

At the Cambodian border, we had to wait over an hour for our passports to get processed. But the highlight of the day was the four hour wait for the bus to get on the Neak Leoung Ferry that would transport it across the Mekong since there was no bridge yet. Since the Cambodian New Year holiday had just ended, everyone was rushing to get back to Phnom Penh which explains the traffic jam. We finally arrived in Phnom Penh, close to 5 hours behind schedule. But it's all part of the adventure.

For more information on what to do in Ho Chi Minh City, read Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).
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