We finally got some proper sleep – soft bed did it´s magic. The alarm still woke me up at 7:30am – damn, I am getting up earlier during this holiday than at home, when I was going to work. 😀 Oh I can already see, how much I will need some holiday after this holiday! 😀 I am trying to wake up “my bear”, but he is growling at me – he hates mornings and I have to learn how to live with it. 😀 Nothing I can do, so I am going to pick up our laundry – praying – hoping that it will be done on time.
When I walk into the little shop, the young lady is smiling at me and handling me our laundry bag – yaaay! I pay for it, thank her and run back into our room. It is always a bit stressful, you have to always go through everything just in case there is something missing.  Ohhhh in some rare occasion you find a piece or two of bonus underwear. Good news! We have everything. Bad news! Everything is still quite wet and damp. 🙁 Damn – I get it now. No wonder nobody wanted to do our laundry yesterday – telling us “it is too late”. They don´t have any laundry dryers here. So they hang everything outside. And nothing really dries overnight – nights here are warm but quite humid.  We are packing everything into our bags with pain in our hearts – just hope nothing is going to smell bad after this journey. 🙁 But there is nothing else we can do at this moment.
We are leaving our packed bags in the room and we are going for a hunt for the ferry tickets to Ha Tien (a little town close to the border with Cambodia). It is a bit paradox, because we want to go to Koh Rong Island, which is literally a couple of hours by boat, but there is no way to cross the border – you have to go over the land. So instead of 2 hours we will probably spend a whole day by traveling. We are being disappointed by the fact, that nobody wants to sell us “just the ferry tickets” it is always in some combination with buses or other transport. Later on we found out, that people lie to us. As it is possible to buy a ticket at the terminal, but everybody says otherwise and we don´t want to risk it. We end up buying a combo with one of the travel agencies, who gives us the best rates. So we are going to Ha Tien (we have to pay our way to the ferry terminal, because their transport is fully booked), in Ha Tien we have to stay overnight (because they are saying there is no bus to cross the border in the afternoon – what the liars they are), then they are going to pick us up and cross a border with us, then jump on the bus and make our way to Sihanoukville (a little town by the sea), where we have to catch another ferry to the Koh Rong Island. Not the smoothest way – we are a bit disgusted by all this process, but what can we do? We have to take it how it is!
We ask for an extra cheap taxi, so they call it for us. But truly – this taxi took us through such a big detour, that we paid the same amount like the first time in the opposite direction. But we cannot do anything, we just pay the money we have to. It is painful to see, how we are going over our daily budged and we still didn’t even make it through the first half of the day. Ohhh and it will get worse, unluckily. We know, that we will have to pay $35 US for the visa at the Cambodian border. Ohhh yeah – traveling and visa is the biggest pain in our bums on this trip.
We are very close to the docks, but we still have over an hour till boarding, so we sit down at a little cafe place and sipping some cold drinks. This little village is busy, because of the ferry. You can see lots of tourists around – some just arriving, some leaving, like we do. We happen to get into the discussion with two Portuguese girls – Ana and Andreia. They are also heading to Koh Rong, so we end up having some company, which is nice and refreshing. We share our information, we are all a bit confused and it is so obvious, the locals are lying to us to earn as much money from us at possible.
The ferry is really fast – it took us only about an hour and a quarter and we are in Ha Tien. I am carrying two backpacks, water bottle and I am still able to help a young local lady with her big suitcase. (She was holding a baby in her hands trying to fight her way up to the stairs and out from the boat. But I managed!!! I am the strongest girl in the world! 😀 Even though I had to look rather ridiculous.)
When we got out and managed to ignore all the shouting taxi drivers – we are looking around. There should be someone with our names standing around. Haha I always wanted to feel like in the movies. “Hey, Steve, there is something that looks like your name!” 😀 I am pointing at a local guy and laughing. Haha it was the biggest mess, I cannot believe they messed Steve´s name so much, but yes – we found them! 😀
We are trying to make the driver to take Ana and Andreia with us, trying to explain, they would like the same bus tickets like we have. In the end he takes them along for a $1 US each – haha they are trying to earn money on everything here. Ohhh well!
I have no idea, how the Vietnamese do it, but everything is running so smoothly. We have people already expecting us at the little office. They are giving us bus tickets for tomorrow and asking us, if we have any accommodation. Haha of course we don´t, we didn´t even want to stay in this town. They offer us a private room with aircon at some hotel for $14 NZD – which sounds quite amazing right now.  And they will pick us up from there tomorrow morning to take us to Cambodia. Lets do it then.
We jump back into the van which take us only around a block (we could walk it in 2 mins :-D) and we are jumping out again. The hotel seems nice and quiet. The lady at the reception desk is trying to charge us more that we got promised, but when she realized we don´t like it, she agrees and gives us our room keys. The room is quite simple but nice, softish bed, ensuit bathroom and aircon as promised. I can tell you – it is a luxury for for us! <3
The first thing I do, when we close the door behind us, is to take all the damp laundry from our bags and hang them all around the room with hope, that it will dry till tomorrow morning.
We are quite starved – we didn´t have any breakfast or lunch yet, so we are heading into the streets for some food. Why is it sometimes so damn difficult to find something normal to eat? It always happens when we are extremely hungry. There is a lot of local food – don’t take me wrong. But just a glimpse at that meat, which is sitting there for hours (maybe days) is making both of us sick. You can see many flies loving it – and we truly don´t want to share it with them. In the end we give up and sit at one of the little empty kitchens. Steve is ordering some beef and that seems to be a good choice, because they are putting his meat on the grill. That is always the best way – knowing the meet was freshly done. So he is more than happy. In the other hand – I am getting a cold piece of chicken from the stand and some rice. I keep silent about how disgusting it is – just don´t wanna hear a lesson about salmonella while eating it – and I am truly hungry, and we say “The hunger is the best chef”.
I heard about Ha Tien and it´s beautiful cliffs and come cave temples where I wanted to go, but Mr. Google found out it is everything too far away to actually see it. That makes me quite sad as we don´t have enough time for it. So we are going back to the hotel room to kick our feet up. Steve is having a nap and I am writing.
We are meeting with Ana and Andreia in the evening and trying our food hunting once more. Haha like it would be easier in 4 people. Ahhh yeah – it is much worse. All of us want some “normal food” as we all are sick of noodle soups. Not like they are not good – they are amazing! But eating it all the time makes you to want something else. Something more solid and with different taste.
When we finally decide for a place – it is close to the river. There is a large stage where the locals sing their karaoke. Haha not sure, if this place was the best choice, but here we are – listening the squeaking noises which pull our ears. “Please, stop killing the cat!!!” Oh, will never understand the local passion for karaoke.
What surprises us the most is, that we are receiving an English menu. Wow – we are very impressed and we happen to be very excited about this dinner. It doesn´t last long, though. When we are ordering, they are writing down the numbers of the orders and we can see, that they are using Google translate in the kitchen to find out, what we actually orderd. Ohhhh God! They cannot speak English! The English menu has nothing to do with their “normal menu” – I don´t believe they even have it in the same order, maybe they don´t even make half of this stuff. This will be a disaster, we all see it coming!
Ana speaks a bit Vietnamese – they both are studding here in Vietnam and Ana is trying to pick up as much as she can. She is running into the kitchen to find out what is happening. OMG! We were so right – they had no clue, what the English menu says. They were preparing some shrimp meal – no one from us ordered anything like that.
Well Ana saved us all – we happily end up with a bowl of noodle soup – haha not a big surprise! Well “bon appetite” then.
On the way back to the hotel, we just slowly wonder through the streets, which are full of chickens, dogs and cats. There are many stands full of weird looking things – sometimes we don´t even wanna know what is what. There are some nice looking restaurants – very fancy – many tables on the street. One of them is full of people sitting around lovely dressed up tables full of amazing looking food and drinks. Beautiful table cloths in white and red colours and curtains in the same colours all around the place.
When we walk right around this place, someone grabs me quite hard by my wrist and pull me straight toward one of the busy tables. It is an elderly Vietnamese man with a big smile on his face and his smelly breath is proving a fact that he is quite drunk. He gives me his glass of beer with ice and with sign language (he cannot speak a word of English) he shows me, that I have to drink it. Ahh well – I look around at my laughing friends, who are supporting me to drink it. When the man realize that I have another friends – he starts opening more beer bottles and passing them along. Haha so we stand there – sipping our beer and laughing (the guys got warm Heineken in the bottle – which tastes quite disgusting 😀 – I guess I am the lucky one having some ice in mine).
After some time we notice a young beautiful woman standing there in a glamorous white dress looking at us – we all can tell, she is not really happy about all this. Noooo way!!! Damn!!! I hope we didn´t crush into someone´s wedding. S**t!! We did!!!!!
It looks like the Daddy has been celebrating more than enough and the daughter looks quite annoyed and embarrassed. So we quickly finish our beers, have a word with the bride – trying to apologize – as we didn´t realize that this is a wedding. She could speak English – which made this situation a bit less awkward. And we disappeared into the darkness of the streets. Haha well that was definitely “something”!!! 😀 Totally the best “Wedding crushers” ever!!!
We go to sleep quite early – it feels like minutes and we are awake again. 5am! I guess we didn´t sleep that well – it is all that “traveling settings” of our brains. We pack all our stuff which was hanging around – feels dry (at least something good) and get down to the reception, where we wait for our promised bus. I even make a short run into the local bakery I found in the next street over. So I am chewing on a dry freshly made baguette for a few cents. Good to have something in my stomach (I cannot function without my breakfast).
There is a little old van stopping in from of our hotel, we throw our bags inside and make a little trip around the block, where they are kicking us out into the little crowded office. Bags and tourist everywhere, crawling over each other. That is what you “wish for” at this early morning hour. We are filling necessary documents for the border crossing and paying $36 US for the fees (luckily we knew about it and we are ready!) 
It is so funny how this little green bills make miracles all around the world. We try to have them with us all the time, because they can be like a magic and get you out from many sticky situations. There are even places (like this border), where they don´t even except anything else.
When we are all done, we are getting back into the shaky old van and start our journey to the border. It isn´t far – only 20mins or so. I am quite happy we are with this agency now. They took our passports and they are going to take care of everything on the border (hopefully).
We found out, that the process at the border should be much faster at this early morning hour than in the afternoon, when there are crowds of people. Now it looks quite empty and quiet. Only a few sleepy faces wondering around. We all sit down (we are a group of probably 13 people) in a little building and wait for the officers to drink their coffee and meanwhile put a stamp into our passports for leaving Vietnam. There is no rush… We are just quietly waiting, breathing morning humid air… the heat is slowly coming back with the rising sun…
About half an hour later, we are told to follow our “delegate” lady. She has our passports in her hand and she walks us on the Cambodian side of the border. We are being stopped by a couple of police officers – who check all the passports – one by one – to see, if all of us got the “exit stamp” and we are free to go.
Funny to see, how the locals are passing these borders. Nobody stops them. They just walk (or ride on their scooters) straight through. No one gives a monkey.
The Cambodian side of the border seem more civilized and a bit modern. We are being welcomed by spacious marble building with air-conditioning.  The language obviously changed – as we cannot read anything (Vietnamese use Latin – but Cambodian is impossible to read).
We are all sitting around and waiting… we are getting a bit nervous, because a group of Cambodian officers is absolutely ignoring the fact, there are people waiting for some action. They are just laughing, showing each other their phones and sipping their morning tea or coffee. 40 minutes passed and we are still where we were. Not a single stamp was used yet. Even our delegate is sitting on the side of the officer´s desk – hands squeezed between her nervously jumping legs and staring into the ground in front of her.
Well this is being a little bit too much for us, as we have a ferry to catch – but these gentlemen in green uniforms are literary having a laugh. I slowly get up and walk to the wall beside the counter, where are all these gentlemen having their morning chat – pretending I am very interested in the posters on the wall about health, all the viruses and all that “interesting” stuff. I truly cannot read most of it – but the intention of getting some attention worked more than well. When the officers saw me – it was like a big “click” in their heads: “Ohhhhhh we have a work to do!!!” And meanwhile I am staring at those boring posters, there is the stamp noise coming slowly from the counter, which is gradually accelerating. When I turn around and start to make my way back to sit down, I am receiving a few eye contacts from others saying “Well done, girl, well done!” It was a good move I suppose.
Now it takes only a few minutes and we are all standing with our passports in our hands. I am so impressed by that amazing sticker, which covers one whole page. So beautiful!
You know what? We are getting squeezed into the same shitty van again. We were promised a bus – that is what we paid for. But it seems, nobody is even trying to communicate, well it seems that this is “our promised bus”. 😀 Haha still better than our Guatemalan trip with 22 people in the same kind of van. We are laughing and making jokes till the moment there are more and more people being squeezed between us – no enough seats for all of us. 😀 But it seems, there is no other option we have to find some space for the others.
After a while on the road, the rude driver stops, kick one of us (a guy with long legs) from the front seat (next to the river) and make us to find a space for him among us on the back. Like we are not struggling already. And he is picking up his friends along the way, giving them a lift.
Well at least we have AC working – haha – always look for positives, right? And I was planning how I will write at least a couple of stories for you and instead of that, I am sitting here knee to knee and shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of adventurers.
You wouldn´t believe it, but the journey is actually quite pleasurable – we have a live conversation going on almost whole the way. The seats are facing each other – so we have a nice debate ring. Sometimes I am listening funny travel stories and gazing and the view from the window. I am trying to get the energy from the new country, new landscapes and different culture. Haha cannot believe, I thought (not long time ago) that Cambodia is in Africa. Ohhhh shame on me! I know!!
I quite enjoy landscapes of this country – at least in comparison with Vietnam. Cambodia seems so much cleaner and you cannot really see the garbage fields here. Of course you see every now and then some little place with some rubbish, but it is definitely much better than most of the Vietnam. And I thought, that Cambodia will be much worse – seems that the opposite is true, which makes me happy. Their wooden houses are nice and tidy standing on big wooden poles. They are like little colourful gems popping up from the rice fields. Their back yards are nicely swept and clean. And they are mostly surrounded by mango, coconut and banana trees. Cows and short haired buffalos are feeding around on yummy grass or having fun in the mud pools. Once we even had to brake very suddenly, because one big buffalo family decided to cross the road. I am just amazed!
On the beginning we are driving through the flat fields, but after a while you can see curves of the mountains in the distance, which are drowning in a grey haze. Well it is around 35 ° C in the shade –  yummy!!! 😀
We are stopping at the service station (just to get some break and use the restrooms). When I open the half broken wooden door from the toilet I almost pass out. Such a “beautiful” whole in the ground is right in front of me and I don’t know, if I should cry or laugh. I hold my breath and go fearlessly break my limits. When I get out I almost bath in hand sanitizer – yuck!!! I hope whole country doesn´t have such an “amazing toilets”.
We are buying overpriced ice cream with US dollars. Cambodia is using mainly US dollars. Only Cambodian Riels you can see are worth less than $1US – so just a “change notes”.
The worst thing about going from one country to another is the new exchange and counting all the time you are paying something, it is so confusing! You get finally use to one currency in one country – you get confident with all the costs and now you are on the begging again.  
We are really lucky, that we have such a talkative group, as we are told, that there are no ATMs at Koh Rong Island. Woow – that could be a big big trouble if we did´t find out. As we wouldn´t be even able to pay accommodation or food. Now we have to make sure we get some money before we get on the ferry.
When we finally reach the sea, you can her one big sigh and amazement from all of us. Snow white sand and azure waves crashing on the shore. The abandoned hammocks dancing in the breeze between the palm trees. We are all stuck on the windows and staring at that beauty! We are even more excited about the islands – it is suppose to be even more beautiful than here! Ohhh it will be such a paradise!
Our driver is constantly stopping – minding his own business around, having a cigarette with his friends here and there. Picking up some boxes and bags and dropping them off. He doesn´t bother about us catching the ferry at all. Ohhhh this smiling Cambodians remind me Mexicans more and more – no worries style – no stress!!!
When we finally arrive in Sahanoukville (the final stop, where we have to get the ferry), we get dropped off right in front of one of the ferry offices. I am taking care of the bags and Steve is running around trying to find working ATM. Seems he doesn´t have much luck. He looks quite stressed – of course, we have only 10 mins till the ferry leaves. (Thanks to the driver.)
I can see sweaty Steve almost flying around. I am trying to calm him down – there is another ferry in 3 hours – not a big deal, but he doesn´t wanna hear about that option. He doesn´t want to wait.
He finally finds an ATM which is being refilled by a little Cambodian guy. Steve is standing impatiently behind his back. One hand is resting on his hip and he plays nervously with his hair (oh yeah – this is Steve´s nervous position). Poor “bank worker” he must be so stressed too – having a nervous foreigner of twice his size breathing at his neck while putting those $$ into the machine.
It seems we have a success – as I can see Steve running back with full wallet. We have a few mins till the ferry departure. (And it is around 15 mins walk from the office). We ask the lady, if we still have a chance to get on the ferry. She just nods her head and quickly fills the paperwork and tickets for us. She even force the driver, who got comfy on one of the sofas, to drop us off. What a woman!!!
I completely forgot, we are in “Cambodian time” – haha ferry is over 20 minutes late anyway – nooooo stress!!!!
The boat takes over an hour and we are seeing so many amazing beaches, palm trees everywhere, little huts made from bamboo and palm leaves. Looks like a paradise and I am melting with enthusiasm.
Steve didn´t even wanna go here, but now he seems happy and excited. Ohhh yes – he was “voluntarily” forced to come here. 😀
When we land on Koh Rong, the water is so clear it takes my breath away. We realize there is no pavement or any road. It is just beach with white sand, which is crunching under our boots. The sun is so strong, I thing we will melt in any second. It is not easy to walk in sand with all the bags in this heat. It is actually a torture.
We didn´t make any reservations or bookings, as we didn´t know when we are going to get here. We are being offered a few accommodations – so I always have to take my boots off and walk to check to room and back into my boots, but the backpack back on my back and continue in our search. We are being offered little rooms with only fan. It is like a furnace – we are going to die here!
In the end I am leaving Steve and bags behind in one of the bars with some cold drink and continue in my search by myself. I end up to talk to some tourists – who have been actually living here for some time. (This place is known for its power: Come for a week and stay for ever!) They recommend me to get back to the wharf – the prices should be much better there.
In the end I am being stopped by a local man, who is offering quite good price for a private room. We gave up on AC – it is too expensive – so 2 fans will have to do the trick. The guy is taking us through a narrow aisle full of local families, chickens, cats and a lot of drying laundry.
So here it is – after 2 days on the road we finally have our “home”. Two beds with pink mosquito nets – they will be needed, because those little bastards are absolutely EVERYWHERE! We just lie down on the SOFT BEDS – so exhausted!