Our last two days in Cambodia were spent in the quiet, and surprisingly clean, Kep. This city’s famous crab market, became the first stop upon our arrival. Having ordered 1 kilo of the blue crab (for a negligible sum of 5$!), the waiter from the pier jumped into the sea, got five wiggling beasts, and, after slitting their “throat”, prepared them on the bbq. Does it get any fresher than this?!
Our guesthouse boasted the view of Kep’s National Park. On a reasonable dirt road, we managed to ride our bikes to a hut in the far end, where we got just in time to watch the stunning dusk.
We forgot how quickly it gets dark after the sunset, and that the lights on our bikes are not that bright. That made it an interesting ride down the hill in the pitch black national park, luckily several fireflies led the way 😉
What is the ultimate holiday adventure for you? When we asked ourselves this question before we left, one of the things was renting a boat, and sailing on the ocean, preferably to a tropical island. Our dream came true in Kep. We rented a small catamaran, and cruised into the Pacific. A small island not far caught our eye, that was going to be our destination. Measuring distance on the sea is difficult, and it took us quite a bit longer to get there than we expected. At one point we weren’t sure if we were still in Cambodian waters, as we were sailing close to the Vietnamese border. If it’s that easy to get into Vietnam, then why did we spent 40$ on a visa ;). After 3 hours of “beating” (sailing upwind), we arrived at the island, where a Cambodian flag was placed. Upon return to mainland we realised it was our last night in Cambodia, and decided to eat the traditional Khmer Amok fish.
On the first of September, we embarked on a new journey towards Vietnam. We read some horror stories online, of people who got stuck at the border crossing all day, struggling to take their motorbike across the border. With that information in the back of our minds, we left early in the morning, and put some 1$ notes aside that might help in persuading the officials. Ha Tien (the border crossing) is not far from Kep, after a short ride of about 45 minutes we already arrived at the border. Here we parked our motorbikes out of sight of the officials, and went inside a building to get our passports stamped. Miraculously this went way easier than we expected. Only 30 minutes later, we hopped back on our bikes and cruised into Vietnam, where we had our first Pho (pronounced as Vaoooaaaooooo, as we quickly learned) and Vietnamese coffee as breakfast.
We thought the border crossing was the most challenging part of the day, and that the remaining part would be a relaxed cruise into Vietnam. But the opposite was true. The traffic here is similar to the Cambodian traffic, but then multiplied by four, and about an extra 37 million motorbikes, which equals: CHAOS. I almost ran over a pig, who just escaped from a truck on his quest for his freedom, you go Babe! We saw three pretty serious accidents along the way, and reminded ourselves of the fragile nature of motorbike riders. We finally reached Long Xuyên by sunset.
The following day we arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, where we met Vinh, an old university friend from Radek. He invited us to stay a couple of days with him and his family. Upon arrival in his apartment, we were greeted by his wife Tao, her mom, Vinh’s dad, their two kids, and a delicious lunch. This lunch was just the teaser for the rest of the days, when we were treated to a wide range of exquisite Vietnamese cuisine.
In the evening we went out to watch the fireworks, fired every year to celebrate Vietnamese independence of the French, danced our feet off at a rooftop bar, and ended the night in “the Office”, an after-work bar popular among the city’s expats. Four days in Ho Chi Minh City flew by, filled with eating, and drinking “ca phê” in numerous venues. Vinh and his family were so welcoming, that we really felt part of his family and experienced the real Vietnamese life!