Once again, in the name of curiosity but not for the sake of money, me and my sister decided to try a boat to cross from Vietnam to Cambodia. Isn’t it interesting, to cross a border on the river? U probably have been in the custom on the airport for many times, some of u probably have it on the harbor, but….. have u been trying the on on the river? I have read in some travel forum, they describe the Vietnam’s custom as a floating pontoon in the river, while the one Cambodia has is a small outdoor office on the river bank. Sounds interesting!!
So, instead of taking a bus from HCMC to PP, which cost quite well, around 12-15 USD per leg, I would take a boat from Chau Dock to PP. I found the blue cruise, but cost quite expensive, 55 USD per person!! From LonelyPlanet ThornTree, I got another information, that there are boat named Hang Chau, at it is only 21-24 USD! I e-mailed them (firstname.lastname@example.org), and they promise to keep 6 seats for us, and the price is 24 USD per seat. Isn’t that good? No…. It is not good, but GREAT!! Hee hee hee! Some people were talking about cheaper boat to Phom Penh, Cambodia. It was around 16 USD. But it sounds not good, like they will squeeze u into a minivan after VN-Cambodia border. So, I stick on Hang Chau, I was impressed by their e-mail, and not to mention some good reference I got from ThornTree.
The Hang Chau boat sent the ticket to our hotel! So, once I got there, the hotel man handed me over an envelope. I was a bit surprised, I was thinking that I will go to the boat office right after I arrived at Chau Doc. At the end I went to the boat office, cos we turned up 5 person, not 6 person just like written in the e-mail. The Hang Chau office, and the jetty were in the same place. It is in a big floating restaurant. I made sure that there would be a free pick up from the hotel, this is quite essential, concerning our luggage.
The next morning, we got our breakfast, and ready to leave. We have to be at the jetty on 7am. The arranged pick up was cyclo!! Hahah! This is a nice experience! The Chau Doc cyclo is quite different compare to the other place in VN. The cyclo I have seen so far looks like pedicap (becak) in Indonesia, but smaller a lot. This one in Chau Doc is a bike with attached cart behind. So cute! Hahaha!
We pay the seat plus the visa, right before we jumped into the boat. Yeaahhh…. For Indo passport holder, we have to pay for the visa. It cost 20USD for 30 days. According to the traveler listed on the TripAdvisor and ThornTree, the Visa will always overcharged, around 3-5 USD per visa, depend on how un-lucky is the traveler. The Hang Chau charge us 23USD per person, well….. that’s not bad. The boat was quite small, air-cond….really nice! We got a piece of bread and a bottle of water.
It was pleasant trip….. Calm water….. good boat…. cows and trees passing bay…..
We got off the boat in the VN custom. We all got our passport collected by the boat man, together with the head-shot we prepared before we leave Indonesia. He also gave us some paper to fill, before we arrive at the VN custom. Things worked really well. We waited on the air-cond waiting room, while the boat man do his business with our passport. Make some cliché picture, co we were on the floating custom! Some moment later, he called us back to the boat. So smooth…..
A few minutes later, we got of from the boat. This time we climb up to the land. It was a garden circled by some simple buildings and gazebo. We seated under the trees, waiting for the boat man, (once again) to do his business. It was really hot and humid day, it must be nice to work at this kind of office. No air co, but surround by trees and open garden. A moment later, the boat man handed over us our passport, and ask us to queue on front of the windows. Sound really easy…..
I was queuing behind 2 Caucasian traveler , no one queue behind me. Those Caucasian left, and there was my turn. It was just an ordinary day in the custom…… But, the man behind the window seemed to be hard enough on me. Some minutes passing by, everyone got their passport stamped already…. Suddenly, the man talked to me in his unpleasant tone (oh yeah, his face was un-pleasant too, but he might not choose it though) and broken English, “Where is the VN stamp?!!” I opened a page and point a stamp, it was VN custom stamped it in Hanoi. “NO NO NO!” he make some impatient gesture. Jesus!! What kind of probs I got here??? He handed over my passport to the man behind him, looks like the boss there. A few second later, in between the broken English, gestures and mild chaos, I realized that all they want was the stamp OUT of Vietnam!! The boat man was come racing inside the office, after some words, he got out meeting me. “Do you have the other passport?” he asked me. What the hell is this!! “No! I don’t! That’s the only I have!” Suddenly, he realized the problem, he told me to waited there (Where else I would go??) and he raced out of the custom office.
How to describe the situation? Shockingly funny? Indeed, it is funny! I never ever felt angry to the boat man, he is just un-lucky that day. He got a bunch of passport, have it stamped, but apparently missed one passport, and it was mine! Hahahhaa!! I laughed as he ran away out of the office, I don’t know how he would back to VN border. It wasn’t far, less than 5 minutes by boat, but I’m not sure he would go on foot!! So, me and my sisters back to bench under the trees, waiting there. The Caucasian traveler who stand before me on the queue jokingly asked me if I have commit criminal or what.
“You’ve made me looks like a terrorist” that’s what I told to the boat man, jokingly, as he handed me over my passport. Once again, I stand on front of the window, and this time I got stamped within second, and jumped back to the boat.
Welcome to Cambodia! The HangChau un-wrapped the Cambodia flag on its pole. I think Hang Chau boat is belong to Cambodia Company. We speed up straight to Phom Penh. What a nice and smooth trip!!