Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Ha Tien and Hong Chong

We had quite the comical crossing from Cambodia to Vietnam. We had never seen such blatant bribery anywhere else on the trip which was just another reason we were happy to move on from the constant bargaining that is the only way things are done in Cambodia. We stood for over an hour with 7 others on our shuttle bus waiting to get through whilst larger tour groups (30+) would pass their passports through with some bills to get ahead. Time after time it happened until our bus driver came back in and not-so-discreetly passed through some bills to get our passports finally stamped and passed on through. This is in addition to the $1 USD exit "fee" that you individually pay at the same check point.

Our first stop in Vietnam was Ha Tien which is normally driven through by tourists. This was completely evident by the fact that despite the fact we stayed in the fanciest place in town, and our walks around the place, there was only one other non-Asian tourist in town. It isn't helped by the fact that this border crossing is the remotest on the Vietnam/Cambodia border (part of the appeal to travel this area). The Green Island hotel was nothing fancy but was a nice place to stay. It was nice to see the real life without the presence of tourist throngs. An interesting highlight of Ha Tien was this was the point that having below shoulder length hair became just too much and it had to go. For a grand total of $1.50NZD I managed to get a relieving haircut with layers and no nits :)

Hong Chong Cape

We moved on the next day after bargaining with some moto drivers to take us to an even more remote part of the Mekong Delta to Hong Chong Cape and where we would see the new year in at Hon Trem Resort. Our "deluxe" booking of the entire trip and worth every penny. As this place is very unknown to outsiders the resort was pretty much empty and we had the entire hill top villa section to ourselves. Our villa overlooked the cape/cove and at night we really enjoyed watching the fishing boats chugging around the area.

Rice drying and packing

It was here that we had the best street food of our trip (only maybe tied with a place in Ayutthaya, Thailand). Outside of her home was a lovely older lady who beckoned us over after the first vendor turned us away. No idea what we ate or the name, but it was absolutely scrumptious!

Alana enjoying view from local watering hole
Going to places that are off the beaten track is very rewarding as you get to see quite a bit more of what the real life in these areas are like rather than the show put on for foreigners. Enjoying rice drying along the street, pigs and roosters wandering down the beach, local "pub" with a great view over the cape, ice cream from a cooler on the back of a moto, and children not begging or bothering you. 

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