We caught the train from Hue, it was a pretty comfortable ride and only took about 4 hours. We had read that there isn’t much to do or see in Dong Hoi, but we were surprised how nice the river front was. It’s dominated by, what we kept calling the rainbow bridge because of the multicoloured lights flashing away through the night like a disco on acid.
We arrived for the first time to a new country on our trip by land. Going through border control was pretty straight forward. The bus from Phnom Penh, Cambodia to HCMC did have one delay and was another first for us – paying the corrupt police to let us pass a stretch of road. Each passenger had to pay the law man a dollar each, we had heard about the corrupt police here but this was first real experience of it.
A very long and bumpy 15hr bus journey to Siem Reap was ahead of us and it lived up to our expectations. On the positives we had our own seat. It did beg the question of which bus journey was worse and it’s a question neither of us can confidently answer. The road infrastructure of Cambodia is is poor, worst we have seen in SE Asia so far. Most journeys involve going back through Phnom Phen and a lot of the roads are glorified dirt tracks riddled with pot holes.
Before leaving Phnom Penh, we were sat in the bar of our guesthouse. An american voice emerged “wanna take a shot?” And it wasn’t Katie’s. It turns out a great way to travel is after 4 shots of Stollis vodka. That stuff is smooth and 4hrs on a bus flew past. I even managed to make my way through a Hannah Montana movie the bus was playing and quite contently I might add.
What can we say, we’ve already fallen in love with Cambodia. We had several people tell us that Cambodia is one of their favourite counties in SE Asia, and we can confirm, the country is living up to the hype. The people are incredibly nice, the cities are very green, easy to walk around, and have more charm in general than other cities we’ve visited. We arrived in Phnom Penh after an overnight sleepless layover in Singapore. We hopped into a tuk-tuk that trekked us into the city centre for $7.00.
We took the slow ferry to Lombok, an island east of Bali. The slow boat option was good for us because it was less than half the price of the fast boat. The touts tried scaring us off buying the cheaper option, quoting times of 7 to 8 hours to arrive on the island. In fact it only took 3.5 hours plus a 45 min shuttle bus to our destination town of Senggigi. One thing you learn when booking travels in SE Asia is you never really understand all the steps of your journey- but generally you will get there…eventually. Because we aren’t in a hurry, the slow option of travel works for us. If you’re limited on time, spending the dough on faster travel is probably worth it.