Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 9: Chau Duc

Our time in Cambodia is over (yikes - 1/3 of the tour already), so it's time to head off to a place that my small town arse never thought I could possibly go: Vietnam.

Our entrance wasn't quite as dramatic as the arriving-in-'Nam shots you usually see in movies, but I still couldn't get this little ditty from Forrest Gump out of my head:

That was a compilation of clips from the movie, not the actual clip that I remember, but I've never been able to disassociate that song with Vietnam since seeing that movie, for some reason.

We took 2 mini vans from Sihanoukville to the border with Vietnam, the last hour of which being the bumpiest road I have ever encountered in my life. This border is not one crossed by travelers usually, it's used almost exclusively by farmers and workers passing between the two countries. It was, need I bother to say, a bit rustic.

We switched to a different bus, thankfully a private one, to continue on about another hour to the city of Chau Duc, our stop for one night.

Miraculously I was not hassled at the border, like I thought I would be. Not that I think the Vietnamese are unfair towards one citizenship over another but the guy checking my departure card on the Cambodian side gave me a funny look. Thankfully my loose leaf (meaning not stickered into my passport like normal) visa was a.o.k. and I got in with no more or less problems than everybody else. Marv, being a citizen of Norway, doesn't even need a visa to come here (since his stay is less than 15 days). Vietnam only extends that honor to 3 countries: Norway, Sweden & Denmark. Lucky Scandinavians!

It rained quite heavily a lot of the drive so our tour guide wasn't sure if it was "safety for us" to go on a motorbike tour once we arrived in Chau Duc. Turns out the
conditions were indeed safety for us, but we wouldn't be able to see all the usual sights so the price got knocked down to $5 (a mere 95,000 Vietnamese Dong) for a 2 hour motorbike tour.

As with the harrowing boat tour yesterday, Marv decided to participate and I did not. My reasoning being that 1) There will be more (and better) motorbike tours farther north that I will without a doubt participate in and 2) I'm not entirely sure our travel insurance will cover repatriation of a dead body. I decided to hang out with a few girls on the tour, and enjoy the seriously fabulous hotel room we were given. I eat my previous words, this hotel is not progressively worse, it is exponentially better!

After Marv and the motorbikers arrived back in one peace we had dinner, and were pleasantly surprised to learn that Vietnam is way, way cheaper than Cambodia. At least the places we have been. In Vietnam they use their own currency, dong (hehe, I am 12) and a lot of dong goes not-a-long ways.
Have you ever had 2,000,000 ( two million) of anything before? Besides maybe skin cells?

This is Ayesha with our 2 million dong, which is the max we could take out of the ATM. How much is 2 mil worth, you ask?
$104 USD (619 NOK). And that 2 million should last us a while!

After dinner we went out with most of our group for one of our last nights all together. 5 of our group members (4 Brits & the Aussie) were only along for the Cambodia ride, but we will have 8 ones joining us for Vietnam (2 Germans and, surprise surprise, 6 more Brits - not that I'm complaining).

These beers were only 3.8% alcohol but we wanted
to sample the local stuff, as we were at a legitimately local bar once we got lost and couldn't find the touristy floating bar on the river that we were searching for. The price for these half liter beers: $0.36 (2 NOK). All the beers you see on this table cost a total of $2.88. Even if they aren't full alcohol that is a price I'm willing to pay!

One last thing: Facebook is no more for me until the 19th when we get to Malaysia. Communism has never bitten me in the arse so hard before, lest the people have access to information get crazy ideas in their heads.

A life without Facebook. Can you imagine?!

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