Saturday, March 21, 2009

Goodbye Vietnam

Day 374
After almost a month in Vietnam it was time to go. We have done a lot of things here and it was mostly good. I'm just sick of reading about evil, imperialistic America, plus the people are rather rude. Well, not all of them, but a very high percentage of them, more so than in the other countries I have been to in SE Asia anyway. It's not just towards me because I'm American, no one knows where I'm from until I tell them. I've heard this complaint from a lot of other travelers as well.

On the way to the boat Nicole and I stopped at the post office so she could send some things. When we had booked our boat I was told that while the cyclo driver was getting paid that a tip would be appreciated. When we got to the port I gave my cyclo driver all the small change I had. I don't think that it was even $2, but it seems to have made his day.

We then had to take a very rickety boat to a bigger boat. It was still cool in the morning and there was a nice breeze. The boat ride would have been great, it was just that we were sitting on folding chairs and there wasn't any way that we could fall asleep. I ended up reading for the whole ride. About 3 hours in a guy came on board to collect our passports and money for our visas. He then just got off the boat. As we got further and further from where we had dropped him off we had to tell ourselves that there is no way that he just made off with an entire boatload of people's passports and that we would see them again.

About an hour later we stopped for lunch. Suddenly we were rushed out. Everyone got their passports back but he didn't seem to have ours. Then we realized that they were in his shirt pocket. It took us a few minutes to get them from him. We were then told to take our things off the boat so that they could be inspected. No one else seemed to be doing this. A new boat came and took everyone else on it, we were left standing there along with a French Canadian girl. Soon a woman who spoke better English came along and told us that the other people were on a tour and that there wasn't anymore room on the boat. We would have to wait for about 20 minutes for another one. I was pretty irritated, but it turned out that we got a better boat and arrived at the port at the same time as the people we were with before.

The French Canadian girl (FCG) didn't have enough money for her Cambodian visa. She could have easily gotten money from an ATM the day before in Chow Doc, she just didn't bother. She ended up borrowing money from Nicole and the woman who spoke good English. We spoke with FCG for a bit and found out that she had been traveling for a year and a half and was heading to Bangkok so that she could go home.

The second boat soon came and we got on. Not much later we reached the boarder. Nicole and I had no problems. The FCG, however, didn't have any empty pages in her passport. She would either have to bribe them to put the visa over a couple of stamps from Europe or tear something out that had been glued in. If she tore the page on her passport they wouldn't accept it all. She didn't have any money so she had to tear the page out. This is just stupid. I can't believe that she has been traveling for so long and a. doesn't bring enough money to the boarder, b. doesn't have extra pages in her passport and c. doesn't see why b is so important. She got lucky and the page didn't tear when she took out the glued in bit.

Even though the boat was moving with some speed there wasn't a breeze to be had. Somehow I managed to fall asleep for a few minutes by leaning on the seat in front of me. It was just so uncomfortable and hot, like 4 hours in a sauna. I was greatful when we got to the port and were loaded right onto a minibus. At least we had a breeze this time. An hour later we were in Phnom Phen, the capital of Cambodia.

We quickly got a tuk tuk and checked into our hotel. I wasn't very happy with it though, the beds were right next to each other and I like to have some space. The aircon did work very well though. After showers we headed out for dinner. We had some really yummy pizza that required a very long walk.

Nicole and I wanted to try and do a pub crawl but we found all of the bars to be really dark and scary looking. Eventually we braved one and it turned out to have live music. It was empty though so we bought one drink to split and then moved on. We next went into what we thought was a sports bar but turned out to be a hostess bar. Some bars here have anywhere from a few to up to 40 women (and ladyboys) employed to entertain the customers. When we walked in they brought out some board games to play with us.

We ended up chatting with one of the ladyboys for a bit. She was pretty interesting. Most of the women in SE Asia what to have lighter skin. All the drug stores here carry creams to help with this. The women here will also carry umbrellas every day and cover themselves in long sleeves and even gloves on even the hottest days to hid from the sun. She told us that there is one thing that she does that is a cream that after a few minutes makes it possible to pull off the top layer of skin. Apparently it is just as painful as it sounds. We told her about tanning beds and the things women do in the west just to get a tan. I guess the grass is always greener.

We were only there for one drink and soon moved on to a place on a boat called Pontoon. It was way to loud for me though and we left after a bit.

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