After spending one day in Phnom Penh, I continued my trip to Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon) in Vietnam. I booked for the bus a day earlier right away after I came to the guest house where I stayed at in Phnom Penh. Luckily, the bus ticket agent is located only 20 meters away from the guest house, so I could conveniently go there. My original plan was leaving for Vietnam by taking the earliest bus, which departs at 7.30 a.m. Unfortunately the bus was already fully booked, so I took the next bus which departs at 8.30 a.m. On the day of departure, a minibus picked up some passengers directly to their places of stay, including to the guest house where I stayed at, to the bus station.
In the bus a met some interesting people. The first is a Japanese man (probably around 60s or 70s of age) from Hiroshima who traveled alone. When the bus made a quick stop somewhere in the middle of the trip, he came to me and ask whether I bring Indonesian money or not. He told me that he is a numismatist and have collected banknotes from all over the world. I gave him my only crisp note of rupiah (Indonesian currency), which is a piece of 5000 rupiahs (about USD 0.60). Unexpectedly, he gave me a pack of Lotte chewing gums from Japan (although Lotte itself is a Korean manufacturer). What a simple but nice gift.
The other person is a New Zealander man who lives on an island off the coast of Darwin, Australia, and currently teaches English in Cambodia. I would guess that his age is also around 60s or 70s. Back in Australia, he is also involved in community development activities which focus on improving the standard of life of Aboriginal people who live on the island. He sat next to me and we had a very long conversation so that the 6-hour long trip didn’t feel boring at all.
At one point when we were still in Cambodia, we had to cross a river by using a ferryboat to continue our trip. That was also my first experience crossing a river aboard a ferryboat. It only took about 5 minutes to get to the other side of the river, but the New Zealander man and I got off the bus to take some photographs.
Four hours after leaving Phnom Penh, the bus arrived at the border. Unlike my Thai-Cambodian border crossing experience, the Cambodian-Vietnam border crossing was a straightforward process. We didn’t have to change bus because the bus went all the way to Ho Chi Minh City (people drive on the right side of the road in both countries). At the Vietnamese checkpoint, all bags must be scanned though.
From the border, it took 2 hours to finally get to Ho Chi Minh City. My first impression towards the city was: so many motorbikes everywhere! They literally take control of Ho Chi Minh City’s streets. The scene became more dramatic when you see what happens in every road intersection. Swarns of motorbikes leave only a little space for other vehicles.