We left Siem Reap for the town of Kampong Cham. The ride on our motorcycles was good one as we headed down the main highway which was much less busy than the roads to Phnom Penh. It was incredibly hot yet, as long as we kept moving it was tolerable. We made it to a town where there is a secondary road that looked shorter in distance than taking the main highways. We discussed it and decided to gamble that the road was good and that it indeed was a short cut. We chose right. The 55 kilometers down highway 71 was great. We passed groves of planted trees, green rice paddies, oxen pulling carts and huge Brahma cattle pulling people into town. The road was in good condition with little traffic. We did hit a little bit of drizzly rain and we put on our rain pants, but due to the heat, we kept our oppressively hot rain coats in our bags.
Kampong Cham - Catching A Bite To Eat
Kampong Cham, Cambodia On The Mekong River
We arrived at Kampong Cham, Cambodia in the evening and found a place to stay called the Monorom VIP on the banks of the Mekong River. The views from our balcony were great, and the room was.... well.... weird. It was decorated in some strange Victorian/ French theme. Tapestries lined just about every wall, and the woodwork in the headboard, bed and desks were ornate. Strange, but charming in a way. The town was dingy and small, but had some charm in a rustic way. The riverfront had a few western style food places with outside seating, and there seemed to be some things in town worth checking out. We stopped off and got something to eat and a beer at a restaurant overlooking the Mekong River and outside patio before going to bed that night.
French Tower Across the Mekong River
Sightseeing In Kampong Cham
The next day, we decided to rest and get some laundry done, it had been 20 days since we have done laundry, and have long run out of clean clothes. We rode around and couldn't find a single place that would have them done in one day. We realized it might be much easier in Saigon and decided to wait a day. We hopped on a bike and rode around town. We went across the large Mekong bridge the other side of the river bank. There was beautiful dirt road that ran along the river. We saw a large French colonial watchtower/lighthouse that was constructed to monitor traffic on the river and rode through a small muslim town. We loved it, and were glad we could spend some time relaxing.
On Our Way To The Vietnam Border
On Our Way To Saigon, Vietnam
The next day we left Kampong Cham and headed for Saigon. About a half hour outside of town I saw the road clouding up ahead of us, and felt the cool wind of an approaching storm. We pulled over right when the drizzle started, and before I could get our rain gear out, and put on completely, the downpour hit us. Within seconds the roads were soaked with 4 inches of water with Shelly and I standing by our bikes as cars come by showering us with huge arcs of water. It was actually kind of fun even if it was a little miserable. The rain suites we had worked great. First time we have been truly drenched, we got a little wet as the storm hit, but they kept us pretty dry otherwise.
Deluge On Our Way To Vietnam
Once it stopped 15-20 minutes later we headed out back on the road. We had another 60km to go to the border, and on wet roads.We were a little apprehensive about the border as we always are as we knew little about it other than it was little used border. We have been through 3 little known borders so far without serious incident. This border was no exception. Very easy to get back into Vietnam. We showed them the paperwork we saved from the Na Meo border when we left Vietnam a couple of months ago. It was again oppressively hot. Shelly was feeling sick from the air conditioner running at the VIP hotel. The temperature control must have been off, and it blew cold air on us most of the night.
We stopped off at a little roadside stand/cafe and had a soda and rested. Shelly drank some water, and we headed back on the road to get to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) Vietnam. Within about or so, the rain started again. We rode through it this time, and plowed through puddles and spritzes from oncoming cars. All in all we did well, and made it to Saigon through a couple more showers. We were tired, Shelly was feeling poorly, and we found the first decent looking Saigon Hotel we could find. It was right by the airport to our surprise and the roar of jets taking off sometimes rattled the windows. It didn't matter we slept through it easily after the long day we had.
Saigon/ Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam During Tet
Saigon, Tet and Ho Chi Minh City
Saigon was the name of Ho Chi Minh City long ago. Some still call HCMC Saigon. Now days, the district 1 area is called Saigon due to it's old roots. The next day we looked online and found a place called the Viet Nghi Hotel in the heart of old Saigon's District 1. We checked it out and booked our remainder of our time here. The place is busy, and small, but has a charm to it. We are close to a park for Buddha, and take him on walks around town where he delights every waiter and restaurant staff with tricks. We also were here for Tet, which is Chinese New Year. Big fireworks displays, and people paying alms to Buddha for a good new year at makeshift altars in front of every business. It's to bring them good luck in the new year. Some burn papers in the streets in piles and fake money. Great to see this kind of culture and take part in the New Year here in Saigon.
Enjoying The People Watching In Saigon
Back In Vietnam
We think we might have a couple good bites on the bikes selling. We are a little worried were simply not going to get what we want for them. We are glad however to be back in Vietnam. We really do both love Vietnam. We are back to the delicious coffee we craved everywhere that didn't compare. We are however having to wear earplugs in our street facing room. It's a nice place, but the clubs in the area blast thumping tunes until 5 or 6 am. This is the hub of the western, touristy, backpacker area. There are hawkers everywhere selling everything from books, to gum, lighters, cigars, and anything else they can sell. It gets annoying at times, but I think I have mastered the apathetic not interested look enough for them to leave us alone. We are actually getting to know the beggars and hawkers and recognize them when they walk by, and nearly always still stop to ask if I want anything... or that I changed my mind.
We sit out front of our hotel and people watch often. It's actually a lot of fun here and we even got our laundry done!!!! We are enjoying Saigon, but liked Hanoi better. The weather here is very hot and humid. We might go look around today for some things to do, and hope we get some more calls on the bikes. We fly out of here on the 25th of Jan. We are flying to Ohio to visit family for a week, then have tickets for the 1st of Feb. to Roatan, Honduras. Were not sure of our plans of staying on Roatan or going to Utila again for the Divemaster training course we will be taking. A lot of exciting things to come, but we are a little sad as well we are leaving SE Asia. It's a strange feeling of a vacation ending, when it's really just beginning another adventure.