Another day and another bus journey. Only this time it’s no ordinary bus journey. Today’s challenge would be the 6 hour bus Journey from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).
With almost a month spent in Cambodia it was time (according to our Visa) to leave this beautiful country and head to our new destination – Vietnam. Karen had spent a few weeks here back in 2007 so she was eager to see how it had changed.
Sad to leave Cambodia we jumped in to the mini van which arrived on time to take us to the large Orussey Market and to the bus office of Mekong Express. Immediately we were hit with one professional outfit. Each bag was tagged (like in a nightclub) before our Visas were checked by a lady at the office. The bus looked comfortable with plenty of AC and a big television to keep us entertained. The driver seemed to have pimped out his bus as well.
At 9am the bus departed. On time and with no nonsense. As soon as we left the confines of the market we had been given a snack box, water and towel (luxury!!). John was extra excited as he was all too aware that Karen wouldn’t be able to eat anything in her snackbox and he would be having seconds.
In Cambodia the standard bus entertainment set-up seems to be as follows:
1. Karaoke DVD (all in Cambodian)
2. Martial Arts Action Movie (“Is it dubbed or is it subtitled”)
3. Asian comedy movie which is even more hilarious to the western viewer.
The Martial Arts movie was Ninja:Shadow Of A Tear (and it was brilliant!)
One of the interesting aspects of this journey is that it is punctuated by a short ferry ride over the famous Mekong River.
It was soon enough that we reached the Cambodia-Vietnam border and we would find out if our Annotated Visas would work!
The bus company collect all the passports and get them Speed Stamped to save us time at the border.
As we queued with our bags and waited to be called forward to collect them, we heard the name ‘John Kevin’ being shouted. I laughed thinking that’s a terrible name for someone to have, before Karen elbowed me hard in the ribs and said
“Wake up. That’s you”
In Asia, they think our middle name is our family name. So John Kevin Rose on my passport is read as, yep you guessed it, John Kevin.
Looking a little more scarlet than usual I sheepishly walked over to get my passport and then sauntered through Vietnamese customs, while Karen both giggled and shook her head behind me all the way.
The best thing about Mekong is that there is only the one bus that you take. Normally you get to the border and are transferred into a rusty bucket of a bus once you get through. Not this time.
Not before long we had arrived in Saigon and luckily for us our guesthouse was only 5 minutes walk away in District 1. With our bags dropped we headed out to explore and have a few of these.