After a few days in Phong Nha, I continue my journey through the rest of Vietnam. Time is running short if I want to follow up on my plan to loop the Tonkinese Alps in the northwestern part of the country. Early in the morning, I am tying my backpack down on the motorbike rack and drive as far as I possibly can; 450 kilometres of dirt roads in 11 hours of heat. Definitely the longest stretch I have been driving in one single day on my journey so far. Occasionally, I stop for a quick Vietnamese coffee and a delicious Vietnamese Bánh Mì. About 100 kilometres before Cam Thuy, I cannot resists to stop and watch the sun setting between towering limestone karsts surrounded by green fields.
I am about to start my motorbike adventure in Ho Chi Minh City right after sunrise. A free breakfast at the hostel causes a changes of plans though. I end up in the middle of the morning rush hour. Constantly, I need to stop to check the map. One thing is for sure, Ho Chi Minh City is huge and definitely not the right place to learn how to drive a motorbike! Finally, I leave Ho Chi Minh City and am hitting the highway to Bà Rịa. The locals are really interested in my trip and keep approaching me while driving for a small chat. Several times, I am stopping because those conversations get too intense to keep driving. One local Vietnamese is even so kind and invites me for lunch.
I continue my adventure and finally cross the border into Vietnam. Apparently, some people did not do their research and were send back to Cambodia at the immigration office, because they did not organise a visa before. On the bus ride to Can Tho, I come to realise that traffic in Vietnam is insane! Motorbikes everywhere and the bus driver is tooting the horn constantly. There seems to be one traffic rule only: busses over motor bikes! Eventually, I arrive in Can Tho at 10pm; four hours later than scheduled. Too tired to look for an accommodation myself, I join a Frenchman for a homestay after having some dinner in the street. The best decision I made this day! Continue reading
Crossing into Cambodia from Nong Nok Khiene to Trapeang Kriel is an adventure itself. It all starts at the bus station in Don Det. A well dressed man from the bus company offers you help with immigration, handing out the required papers and asks you to give him your passport and the visa fee of $40. $10 more than the fee according to the German Department of Foreign Affairs. Questioning the extra costs, the $10 are broken down as follows: $30 visa fee, $2 stamp fee in Laos, $3 medical check, and $5 stamp fee in Cambodia. Unlike most other travellers, I am not handing out my passport. After a short discussion making the point that the bus is not waiting for me at the border, he wanders away with about 50 passports under his arm.