Friday, May 11, 2007

Siem Reap to Saigon

When travel is not so glamorous:

* 4:30 AM wakeup to catch bus back to Ho Chi Minh City from Siem Reap.
* Ride bus for six hours, spend 10 minutes doing immigration paperwork, then get on your second bus for about 7 hours.
* Experience your most bizarre border crossing yet. The guide on the bus collects everyone's passports and must send them ahead of the bus to the border. At the border, get out of th bus, the police call out names then we get back on the bus. Out of Cambodia. Much the same--though longer--process to enter Vietnam. Mostly stand around with heavy packs a bit confused.
* For the entire 16-hour adventure, eat only: half baguette with jam, two strange very small pastries, a few coconut candies, a strange sandwich that's about 3" by 3" with a thin slice of ham on one half and some strange bit of pork (we think) on the other, and one small orange.
* Spouses have to stop talking to each other for awhile because they're both too hungry and tired to interact like normal human beings.
* Arrive at the guesthouse we stayed at previously to find they are fully booked.

When travel redeems itself:

* The owner of the guesthouse that's full spends 20 minutes finding us another place to stay and lets us come back to have breakfast for free the next day. And lets us keep our heavy packs there all day before catching the night train.
* We book train tickets to Nha Trang and get the last two good seats available for tonight (sleeper with cushion and air conditioning).
* Eat a full, real meal and drink a cold beer.
* Realize that, despite all the hassles, there's something about the energy of Ho Chi Minh City that's good to be back to.

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