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The Border: Cambodia, I'm Coming!

Excited. Why should I take a plane?

View SEA Trip by Any Means on automidori's travel map.

Mekong River, September 3rd 2011

I'm getting closer (I thought so) to the border of Vietnam and Cambodia. The Sinh Tourist prepared everything for our visas. We just gave 23 USD and our passport, that's all.

Nevertheless, Mekong River just spread wider and wider in front of my eyes.

At times I wondered whether I was on a river or an ocean.

A boat carrying the ancients-well-knowned-fertile soil from Mekong River.

When I saw this sign, my heart leaped. "Yeah, we are 60 meters to the border!" I said to myself.

An hour later, sign-S like this was still in sight. Our motorboat was undoubtedly moving forward. But, these sign-S were always "60". Ah... I think this sign means that the water level is 60 meters deep.

It seems that at the time I was here, Mekong River had already started to flood.

Look at these trees! They are flooded!

Cruising on a wide ocean-like river like the Mekong, you are completely clueless of the depth of the water except for when there are trees like these.

I was relieved that the villagers' houses seemed okay. Hopefully... because I also saw the top of a city gate on the water surface.

A house boat should be the safest during times like this.

This looks like a soil-storehouse. I saw heaps of soil under the roof.

And then... I fell asleep... zzzZZZ

I woke up, and felt hungry. Mekong River was still wide spread in front of my eyes. Ah, silly! At the thought of not burdening myself too much I had left my bag with all the other luggage at the back of the boat. I thought it was okay as I had my purse, cellphone, with me already. I forgot that my emergency bread was inside it. It would have been a nice thing to do: munching baguette between the breezes of Mekong River while being swung gently like in a baby's cradle. My seat was on the first row at the most front part of the boat. If I were to reach for my bag, I would have to pass through quite a long and narrow row. It surely wouldn't take only one or two "Excuse me."-s to get to the other end of the boat, grab my bag, and return back to my seat in front.

Moreover, our seats were actually chairs that weren't fixed on the floor. So you can move the chairs. I am not sure whether it was because of the gentle waves swinging left and right that brought the chairs close next to each other, or were it my fellow tourists who by purposed pulled their chair close to each other. Some of them I saw were asleep. If I were to pass through, I would have to wake them up so they would pull their chairs aside and give way for me.

Another thing I regretted was that I had left Paul Theroux also in that bag. I hadn't expected the journey to the border to take this long. For the first hour after leaving the Cham people's village, I was stunned, fascinated, amazed, excited, you name it. The next second hour, I started to doze and at last allowed myself to fall asleep. I woke up at the third hour with the signs "60" still appearing here and after. Naturally I can endure and even enjoy a long journey provided I have something to do. But now, look. I absolutely have nothing to do. Photographs, I have taken them already. The scene hasn't changed much since the first hour. So I don't see any reason to keep on wasting my camera's life time. Reading, that's usually what I would seek to do. I have prepared myself for that by bringing a thick Paul Theroux: "Ghost Train on the Eastern Star". But now, Paul Theroux is not with me. Eating, that's always the last option I would take. But now, even the last option, is unavailable. Damn.

Suddenly, as if someone reminded me that I had kept 2 packs of this in my camera backpack. Yippee!! I munched the contents of one whole pack in one sitting (of course I was sitting) and grabbed for the second pack immediately. Half through the pack, as if someone reminded me again, this time not to be greedy. A next emergency might yet be coming. So I folded the half pack and returned it into my camera backpack.

Mekong River is not a one-straight-route. You can get lost if you don't know the way. Here we turned to the left entering a smaller river branch.

Aha! A floating gas station!

I couldn't believe it when our group leader, in his broken English, signaled us to get off the boat and climb up. "Get off? Here?" I asked.

Life's like that, isn't it? We wait and wait, for something to happen. It seems so long. But when the time eventually comes, we don't believe it.

I actually hadn't had the slightest idea that an immigration office by the side of Mekong River would be something like this. Half of the office is even floating on the river! Ah, this is so exciting! Why should I take a plane?

Inside this immigration office there is restaurant surrounded with windows that overviews Mekong.

Or you can dine on the balcony. No one did. It was darn prickly hot that time. It was 12 o'clock sharp.

Needless to repeat, Vietnamese are obsessed about their lunch. When joining a Vietnam tour, you need not to worry about being late for lunch.

I usually keep an account of my expenses -- only when traveling. But this time I forgot to jot down how much I spent for this lunch. I only remember the lemon squash which was entirely refreshing, was 15,000 VND. I ordered for a second glass. Half of the glass was filled with ice...

After lunch, at 1:00 PM sharp, our group leader let us out of the immigration office. Oh ya, before that, he had already returned our passports with a visa attached inside. There was no fuzz at all. Probably our luggage left in front of the restaurant had been screened while we had our lunch. I wasn't sure. I saw scanning machines, but we all just walked through. We walked out literally like walking out of a restaurant.

I was the one walking most behind trying to catch up with the whole group. I was the only one who had a luggage with wheels and pulled along the way. All the others had backpacks only. 'The others' consisted of a Japanese couple and the rest of Westerners. So there were only 3 Asians, including me, in this group. That's to give you the picture.

I also had a backpack. But my backpack was packed with camera and stuffs. Ah, they -- those Westerners and that Japanese couple -- must know what an effort I had made in order to travel light. They must know also that... hmmm, others, in my country, can be much worse. We, are people with extra high generosity. Wherever we go, we are sure to bring souvenirs for our whole family, neighbors, colleagues, friends, and the extended. 'The extended' consists of families of families, neighbors of neighbors, colleagues of boss and colleagues, friends of friends and enemies. At the airport, you can easily tell my countrymen from the others by their luggage. And, if you are in a hurry, I advise you not to queue behind us, because we have many, many baggage to check in. It can take longer when it comes to Air Asia. Some of us can read "15 kg", but hasn't the idea of how much 15 kg is. Well... based on personal experience, though.

We are stepping over the border of Vietnam and Cambodia. "ここはボーダーということかな?” said the Japanese guy to his spouse. His spouse was silent and just looked at the sign. At the restaurant I had wanted to sit with her at one table but she seemed reluctant. So I took another table.

"はい、ここはボーダーということです。" I answered the Japanese guy's question loudly while walking on pass them. I could feel the shock behind my back. "え~?" I heard.

I am physically standing on Cambodian soil now!!

We all got into a van and passed border check-in point. Several meters away, we stopped at an office surrounded by shady trees by the side of Mekong River. The office area looked more like a rest area than an immigration office. Here we got our visas checked and our passport stamped. Welcome to Cambodia!!

Inside the van I happened to sit face to face with the Japanese lady. All through the way, two and a half hours, she kept on looking to the window. They scarcely spoke to each other. Maybe they are aware now that there's a spy :-P

Posted by automidori 06:54 Archived in Vietnam Tagged vietnam border mekong_river

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