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Getting to Cambodia (from Vietnam)

27 January 2012

The floating markets
The floating markets – not as pretty as I had thought…

Having had a great couple of days in Ho Chi Minh City (see related post) we were fleeing the inflated prices of the Tet festival and going to Cambodia. We had read that the most scenic route to Cambodia was via a boat trip on the Mekong Delta, so we booked a trip through the STA travel office at the hotel for a two day tour of the Mekong Delta and the “slow boat” to Cambodia figuring that would give us more time on the river to enjoy the scenery.

The tour was organised by Delta Travel and included a visit to the floating markets an overnight stay on a floating hotel and, unadvertised and slightly random, a stop at a crocodile farm and a fish farm.

On joining the trip it became apparent that there was a degree of misselling in Vietnam. The “slowboat” rather than being more scenic, actually involved leaving the tour boat at the Cambodia border and catching a local bus to Pnom Penh which would apparently take longer than the boat. After failing to upgrade with one tourguide who said the fastboat (aka “the boat” as opposed to “the bus”) was full, we and several other travellers blagged our way onto the other boat for $5 each by the simple expedient of asking someone else  – this also appears to work with hotel reservations in Cambodia and in our defence there were seats…

Even the first day involved more coach than boat and the floating market was more a rushed display of how to make and sell various tourist delicacies. The included lunch was very basic but gave those with a bent the chance to taste “elephant fish” from the Delta. I don’t like fish, but blame that on myself.

Cobra wine and me...                       The local delicacy...

Me “enjoying” a local delicacy… the local delicacy…

The crocodile farm was a bit random but quite interesting whereas the fish farm consisted of a tubby Vietnamese guy dressed solely in boxers throwing a bit of fishfood to thrashing fish. The floating hotel was a bit of a hostel on water but did do nice spicy beef noodles (I do occasionally like to try the local food!) and the rooms were very clean with firm beds and aircon.

Possibly the best part of the trip was that we just sat waiting in a cafe having lunch while the guide (as usual very cheerful andA random stop not at all pushy for a tip) procured our visas so we could just queue briefly at a Cambodian police station a little further downriver. No nonsense and we were in Cambodia.

During the trip I was tempted to say that I would have just booked the coach which took about 6 hours rather than a two day trip. However, it was a taste of the Delta (and those tourist treats were indeed tasty with plenty of samples and not seen elsewhere) so I find myself recommending the trip but with the caveat to book the fastboat and to know what you’re getting yourself into!


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