Arriving in Saigon after 18 hours of travel I found myself in the back of a taxi with a cacophony of noises all around. Saigon is without a doubt the noisiest city I’ve ever been in and for some reason I love it! The Vietnamese use their horn like there’s no tomorrow! It is used to say: “Out of my way”, “Hey, I’m overtaking you”, “Here I come”, “Hi there buddy, say hi to your grandma” and so on! Street vendors abound, all with a recording announcing their various wares that runs on a loop. Music assaults your ears from shops and cars and roosters seem to have no idea of what time of day it is.
Sitting in the taxi I couldn’t wipe the smile of my face and I must have looked like a grinning idiot! But I was overjoyed to be back in my favorite Asian city. Saigon felt like an old friend and I couldn’t wait to get reacquainted. I arrived at my hotel with quite low expectations as I had chosen a place that was centrally located but very cheap. I was happily surprised though, as it turned out to be a quaint little family-run place and though the interior design wasn’t impressive it was clean and the staff were friendly. I even had my own little balcony. The hotel was located just off Dong Khoi street, which meant that almost all the major sites were in walking distance.
Since I spent quite a few days in Saigon last year and will be returning later on, I had decided to just spend my days relaxing and getting a few practicalities out of the way. I spent the first day at the hairdresser, where three dedicated employees spent 5(!) Hours saving my dry and way too damaged hair. I ended up paying 120 dollars, which is around 50% of the price at home.
The next few days were spent on long walks in the sweltering heat, visiting the Danish bar Storm P. To say hi to Klaus the happy owner and dinner with a friend from back home. All in all not very cultural but much needed relaxation.
After four days in Saigon it was time to board the bus to Phnom Penh in Cambodia. I had debated with myself whether to pay the 125 dollars for a plane ticket which would only take 50 minutes or to take the 7 hour bus ride for 15 dollars. In the end I chose the bus, primarily because I wanted to experience the Vietnam/Cambodia border crossing. I took a Kumho Samco bus at 1 pm and reached the border around 3 hours later.
The crossing was interesting as we had to get off the bus in Vietnam and walk through the border control. Then we go back on the bus, drove 100 metres and walked through the border control in to Cambodia and finally reembarked the bus. So the 100 metres were in effect neither country but rather a little piece of no man’s land.
Back on the bus we traveled for another 5 hours, that were pretty rough as my seat was broken and therefore stuck in a semi-reclining position that was really uncomfortable. But hey, it got me to my destination some 230 kms from Saigon, and for 15 dollars you can hardly get a taxi to drive you 3 kms in Copenhagen!
Arriving I Phnom Penh I was crazy tired but also elated to cross a new country off my list (number 41)! Not much to tell from that first night as I collapsed on my bed and was asleep within minutes. In my next post I’ll be writing about my days on Phnom Penh…including my birthday and a sobering trip to S21 and The Killing Fields.