So, the VIP luxury bus was picking us up from the hostel in Siem Reap at 6.30, right? WRONG! Luckily for us we set the alarm for 5.30am and at 5.45 there was a knock at the door, our bus had a arrived. A scramble to get our things together and we were on the bus. I mentioned VIP didnt I, with AC etc, well if AC is the door open with the floods water spraying us as we went down the back streets picking up locals and other bemused westerners, then I guess thats VIP in Cambodia.
Eventually we got the the bus depot where we changed on to the actual VIP bus. Again a complete mix of toursists and locals. We drove through the glorious countryside of Cambodia, flooded everywhere, but like Hannah said in the previous entry everyone was going about their business and lots of smiles. A couple of hours in the journey we stopped for a comfort break for 20mins. We boarded again on time like good passengers and then the driver turned off the engine shutting down the AC, there we sat for another 10mins or so, cooking in our own juices in the boiling heat - lovely! Along with some of the other passengers we decided to get off and see what was going on, there were a number of people looking at the back end of the bus (the engine) pulling out various bits of rubber tubing! Bit concerning. Someone deduced the problem and showed the part to a member of the bus company who promptly got on a scooter and got the replacement part, fitted and the bus started. We where off again, on the way to Ho Chi Minh.
At our second stop before reaching the city we were met with a PROPER VIP bus. Massive seats, recliners, water and the delights of cambodian evening entertainment on the TV! bliss!
In the final stretch of Cambodian soil, the countryside turned into the dazzleing neon lights of Vegas, Sin City itself. Amazing, as you walk into the county from Thailand you are met with a casino and on the stumble out of the country, there is a whole 'city' to gamble the rest of your dollars away. Brilliant!
We were approaching the border to Vietnam and the sky was turning a particular shade of grey I associated with english summer time. As we stopped for refreshments and to give up our passports (eek) the sky turned the most magnificant colours; greys, blues, goldens and oranges, it looked like the sunset was fighting with the thunderstorm which was rolling in.
And so we entered Vietnam in the rain - pack a mac on!
We had already booked our hostel for the first night in the city, so the bus dropped us off in District 1, which is exactly where we wanted to be, amongst the other backpackers and luckily for us a two minute walk from the bus drop off point!
The hostel was clean and spacious, I would say a step up from the Siem Reap one actually. We dumped our belongings and ventured out into the noise and lights of the city. Didnt have to go far before we found somewhere to eat - cheap as chips - although we didnt have chips!
I think its fair to say that Ho Chi Minh city is like Bangkok's older more grumpy brother who, if you dont respect it, will beat you up! We went exploring the following day and we were astounded by the amount of motorbikes/scooters there were. We had both been told this, but it is still a sight to behold. A few squeals and a lot of hand holding across the roads until we got more confident and trusting that they would drive around us and not IN to us!
We went to the war museum and some of the images had us close to tears. So sad and so recent. I wont dwell on it, but do recommend you going if you ever visit.
We are both a little dubious about enclosed spaces, and after seeing the pictures of the Chi tunnels we diecided to give that a miss, and booked our sleeper bus which would take us all the way to Hanoi, stoping at various places along the way and giving us the freedom to stay in the places we wished. We asked for evidence of what the bus would look like before handing over the money.
Hannah got asked to go on one the scooters around the corner to their other office which had card payments facilities, she politely declined and said she would happily walk. The people working in the tour operators were a little confused by this, but I think our mothers would agree, getting on a motorbike, with a man, in a strange country is not a good idea!
Sleeper bus booked for 8am in the morning! A lie in, beautiful! En route to Hanoi!