Back in HCMC and taking the Sinh Cafe bus over to Cambodia
27.04.2008 - 27.04.2008 86 °F
My friends were waiting for me at the Sinh Cafe office when the bus pulled in. I walked over to mini hotel alley and got a room at the same place, the Xinh Hotel. Same room, #7 which means 5 flights of stairs. $10/nite, a/c & tv. Same deal as before, I left my bag at the front desk and joined my friends for dinner. We picked a restaurant in the alley and chatted about their sleeper bus and what next. After dinner, "R" and I walked to Sinh Cafe office to book our bus to Phnom Penh. This was our last night together, "R" and I were off for Phnom Penh in the am. "V" and his bride "H" were going to stay another few days in HCMC before they separate. "V" will fly home to Canada and "H" will returned to her village. It has taken a year and they still don't have the proper visa for "H" to join her husband in Canada. I knew the US makes it difficult, I did not know Canada was slow as well. The 3 guys went out in the rain for a farewell drink. It will be at least a year before any of us see each other.
We paid $12 for the trip:HCMC-PP. This is more than I paid in past years, but you don't have to change buses at the border as past years. It was a pain in the a**, get off on the VN side, clear VN Imm., walk to the Cambodian side, pay the $20 visa fee, walk to the Capitol GH restaurant, wait and board a new bus for the rest of the journey. Now a new system is in place. You pay $25 while on the bus and a guy gets your Cambodian visa for you. It is easier, but you do pay $5 for the service. I really don't know if you can pass and do it on your own, nobody did on our bus. Due to increased tourism, the Vietnamese have built a new Immigration center and have streamlined the process. You do spend about an hour getting out of VN and into Cam. This is better than past years. Now you use the same bus and travel over to the Capitol GH restaurant for lunch. The road is now paved all the way from the VN border to PP. My first bus trip between PP & HCMC was in 2000. It was a real ordeal then. Bad road and bad buses. It took between 12 to 16 hours to make the journey, mostly because of the dirt road on the Cambodian side. In rainy season it was really a joke. Many times the bus driver would have to hire a tractor to pull the bus out of the mud so you could continue the trip. Now it is an easy trip lasting 7- 8 hours.
After having lunch at the restaurant, off we go for Phnom Penh. There is still the wait for the ferry that takes all vehicles across the MeKong River. We did not have to wait very long this time and were in PP by 4:00pm. Plenty of touts are waiting for you once the bus stops at the Capitol GH & Restaurant. We know where we want to stay and just keep walking, the touts finally quit following us. It is an easy walk from the Capitol to Lucky GH #2, located at #30, Street 115. Fan rooms for $8/nite, a/c rooms for $13. It was brutal hot in PP, so I splurged for an a/c room. We stayed 3 nights, so I took a $15 hit. But, I had been pretty frugal the entire trip and had plenty of money left for my last week in SEA. Once showered and unpacked, we walked over to Mama's Restaurant on St.111. Mama's has been serving decent food at reasonable prices for over 10 years that I have been going to PP. I had dinner for 8,000 riel.There is a very cheap option if you stay in the Capitol GH area. After the Orussy Market closes, street vendors set up shop in the parking lot. Both food and drink are less than any restaurant you could find. Dinner for 4,000 riel, hard to beat that. Just like in VN, you will see sidewalk vendors setting up after dark. Small table & chairs, primarily locals having a cheap meal or drink. A good way to save some money when in Cambodia. Give it a try.
Below are the border and the ferry system across the MeKong River.