To Vietnam

A time has come to cross a border once again. Vietnam we are coming. The trick was that we equipped ourselves with eVisas to avoid border scams and agency fees and not every crossing accepted them. The closest one to us did not. The next one neither but we did not fancy another 8 hours on a bus all the way back to Phnom Penh and then even more hours to Ho Chi Minh. There was a crossing in between but hardly any info about it in the Internet, so why not give it a try 🙂 After less than 4 hours in a minivan driven by a madman (he’ll be dead soon I am sure) we were dropped in a beautiful town of Krek which is well… a crossroad. With some bars and shops around it, but not much more than that. Immediately surrounded by guys on scooters offering us a ride to the border, we politely said „no” explaining that Szymon will not travel on a scooter with his backpack on and no helmet. They got the idea but failed to understand that we need a tuktuk or taxi so we moved on. About 40 seconds after we positioned ourselves on the right road to hitchhike, a tuktuk stopped right in front of us. Yeah!

The border was fun. The Cambodian guys first had to make sure that our eVisas will be accepted in Vietnam so they sent me over the border to ask. This was clever because if the guys in Vietnam would not like eVisas, we would be stuck in no-mans-land with no visa to come back to Cambodia 🙂 After getting a positive nod I went back to Cambodia and the procedure started. Slowly but with smiles and good attitude. In the meantime the chief officer went into small talk with Maja (looking at her tatoos first and asking if she is a singer) and very soon the conversation turned into “do you have facebook, see, this is my daughter, lets become friends”. It is never a bad time to grow your network, isn’t it?

On Vietnamese side we became a training material on how to use their system for eVisas. One typing, 5 looking, the boss supervising. All clear and 20 minutes later we stand on Vietnamese dust, big trucks passing by. Soon a guy on motorcycle woke up in nearby bush and pointed us towards a bus stop hidden around a corner. The bus looked much better than Cambodian ones, painted in Hello-Kitty pink, all shiny in afternoon sun.

At the cashier we are again a sensation, the four of us plus some 20 workers  from nearby factory watching our every move and accompanied by the stink of fertilizer they produce. Bus 701 was a good ride, A/C on, wifi on board and 2 p.m. we were in Tay Ninh. Mission ATM accomplished and bus 71 takes us to the next town, closer to our homestay, conveniently located in the middle of nowhere but close to our next waypoint. Upon arrival to the next bus station our friendly driver points us at another bus that is about to depart soon. 87 is our lucky number this time. It drops us close to our place for our final leg of the journey. It’s dark already but a random old lady apperars out of nowhere and points us in the right direction. She even bangs the door for us and shouts for the landlady when no one opens. Finally we check-in, go gets some rice and chicken (and become sensation again in local eatery) and off to sleep. It was a long day but we made it! The biggest surprise was the fact that all buses in Vietnam so far were regular city buses from Ho Chi Minh. Their network seems to expand far far away from the city. Vietnam seems clearly more developed and not as poor as Cambodia. Bus also more crowded. Almost all the way we rode through endless villages and suburbs. People, people everywhere. And each one of them has at least 3 scooters I am sure.

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