Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Southern Road to HCMC

It took us 2 days to get from Battambang to Kep, due to a compulsory stop-over in Phnom Penh. It was actually quite refereshing to return to a city we knew and eat at the same local resturant, ordering the only thing the language barrier would allow us to order.

The journey to Kep was stunning, but unfortunately most of our time there was spent in the rain. We stayed in a beautiful hotel on a hill that is part of a wider national park that the rain prevented us from exploring. We did, however, get to explore the wonderful abandoned colonial buildings and have fresh seafood from street vendors and a posh restaurant. Electricity continually cut out, but fortunately I carry a solar powered lamp around with me everywhere, so it was actually quite pleasant to be living in the wooden house that was more like a homestay than the backpackers accomodation we had become accustomed too.

Next it was on to the Hatien border crossing to vietnam on a minivan, where we happened to meet up with a couple we had met in Phnom Penh a few days earlier. We then went onwards to Chau Doc. We had full intention of staying in Chau Doc, but there were literally no rooms in any of the hotels, so we decided to go to the next step of the journey, Can Tho in the Mekong Delta. It was a thriving city. We could only find 1 hotel, with 1 room available because it was apparently school holiday time in Vietnam. The couple we had been travelling with, and an extra traveller from Scottland, all shared this 1 room and shared a boat the next morning for the sunrise trip on the mekong delta to the floating markets.

The floating markets are by far the most photogenic, enjoyable, inspiring and intersting thing to do in the mekong delta, and probably the whole of Vietnam.

The Mekong delta is surprisingly developed, but it is often difficult to navigate. We opted for the local busses from My Tho to Ho Chi Minh City, and we are glad we did. Sometimes adding a bit of guess work into a holiday makes it all the more enjoyable, albiet more expensive when you run out of budget backpacker options.

The last few days in Ho Chi Minh City were very enjoyable. We saw all of the major museums, art galleries and the palace. It took a little while, but HCMC really grew on me. Vietnam is culturally very different to Cambodia and I must admit I prefer Cambodia, but HCMC is certainly good fun with a little adjustment.

Saying Goodbye to Leigh was DIFFICULT. Suddenly, I was going to be alone. Completely alone. He was heading back to all the Western comforts that I didn't particularly miss, but also to the friends and family that I did miss. I was a little jealous knowing that it wouldnt be too long until he was sipping chai with friends and following the upcoming federal election like a sport. Still, we said goodbye...
and later that night it was goodbye Vietnam and onwards to Takmau.

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