What an Experience!
Today was a great experience for all of us.
You can plan as much as you like but sometimes you just need a little luck. This morning Summer and I were both hopeful that our E visa for Cambodia had come through. We had breakie returned to the room, packed and readied ourselves for check out. Went down, checked out but we still had not received confirmation on our visa but had to go today regardless. The lady at reception could arrange a bus for us 1300 with Wifi so we booked straight away even though we knew we could get it cheaper.
Went out pulled some VND from the Commonwealth ATM to do currency exchange in Cambodia, also got some snacks and lunch prior to boarding bus. Returned to the hotel checked E visa status but still did not have confirmation so Summer decided to print off the 4 x invoices just in case and this was a stroke of genius. Boarded bus and we were off 1300 no E visa next stop Cambodian border.
The bus guide was very helpful and asked if we could fill out visa application form, I said we have E visa just need Wifi to confirm. He didn’t have Wifi on the bus until we crossed the border, then we started to think we may have to just re-do the visa’s at the border.
In only 2 hours we were at the border and cleared Vietnam border security quickly and then back onto bus to Cambodian checkpoint. This is where the fun started as we handed over 4 x invoices as our E visa. Looking back it was a punt that paid off as we had a go and lucky for us the border security guard must have thought we printed off the wrong document and showed us what the E visa is supposed to look like, so we apologised and he said no problem as he phoned through the reference numbers.
This would have taken about half an hour and our bus guide had got the rest of the passengers through and boarded so he sent the bus to a road side stop for afternoon tea and drinks while we waited for our visa’s. It would have taken roughly 1 hour of waiting around and then we had our visa and we were through. The guide for the bus stayed with us the whole time and we were very grateful for that. We then had to jump on motorcycle taxi’s to catch up with the bus. This was hilarious Summer and Spring on 1 and Autumn and I on another yet Autumn and I had 3 x large back packs. The guide followed on a third motorbike. Caught up with the bus about 5 minutes up the road and paid $1USD to each motorcycle taxi.
Back on the bus and thanked the guide, he said no problem, asked were we are from and we had a good chat. His brother is motorcycle taxi driver in Phnom Penh and he asked if we would like to use his services. We said yes as he looked after us at the border so much. Looking back he could have told us to just re-apply to clear and keep to his bus schedule, so we were lucky he was patient. 4 hours and 1 Mekong River ferry crossing and we were in Phnom Penn and meet up with his brother and his motorcycle taxi.
These are the ones that tow the passengers in the trailer, it was 1900 at night and we had no idea where we were, he took us to the hotel as our luggage was weighing his bike down. He waited as we checked in and then took us to money exchange. I had no idea that Cambodia uses US dollar. We thought for sure we would be changing the VND to Cambodian Real. But no we had to change to USD WTF.
We were taken to some dodgy back street of the market money exchange. The first one was closed the second one was an old lady and she was hardened. She had offered us $435US for our $10,452,000VND. I knew that was too low even though we had calculated only Aust dollars to VND and Cambodian Real not US dollar. Instant a bead of sweat grew as I tried to crunch the numbers in my head. I thought it would be roughly $500US for that amount of VND.
While we were haggling with the hard old woman the girls were being pestered by the street kid beggars in our motorcycle taxi. Now I was stressed as she then went up to $450US, I just asked for the money back and went over no more than 5 metres to the next bloke who also did money transfer. He just said 1USD = $22000VND so we worked it out to be $475USD for the Vietnamese coin we had and then he went through it again and it was the same. A deal was struck and we left thinking we still had been robbed. We returned to the waterfront for dinner as it was about 2015 at night by now.
Our taxi driver said the hotel was a 5 minute walk up the road and left us there and he would return the day after tomorrow to take us to the Killing Fields. The restaurant was really nice authentic Khmer food we had some delicious Khmer green / red curry for dinner and then walked back to hotel. Checked over currency conversion once we got Wifi it was supposed to be $489USD for the VND we had, not so bad in the end. A really enjoyable stressful adventurous day.