Monday, October 25, 2010

To Chau Doc is a doddle

The Blue Cruiser boat, which is actually green, our mode of transport to Vietnam
Entering Vietnam with the Blue Cruiser boat was an absolute doddle. On our recent visit to the Mekong Delta, we took advantage of the daily Blue Cruiser boat run from Phnom Penh to Chau Doc, and it was a good choice. We left bang on time at 1pm from the city's boat dock, the boat's helper Mai was on hand throughout with explanations and assistance at both the border checkpoints and the 26-seater boat was comfortable, with room to move about, take photos of the trip, and four and a half hours later we arrived at the Victoria Hotel boat jetty in Chau Doc, almost as fresh as daisies. Not quite but you get my drift. Crossing borders always fills one with a little trepidation but after enjoying the views along the Mekong River all the way to Neak Loeung and beyond, we arrived at the sleepy Kaam Samnor Cambodian border crossing for our departure formalities at 3.45pm. This border crossing has been open for a decade so its all pretty quick and painless and hopping back on the boat, another fifteen minutes later we were inside the Vietnamese immigration room at Vinh Xuong. More hanging around, though soon enough we were back on the boat and into Vietnam - if you didn't know, you must get your Vietnam visa before you arrive at the border or else they'll turn you away - where the waterways are much busier, lots more river traffic, lots to see en route and after taking a long connecting canal to Chau Doc, which is 30kms from the border crossing and sits on the Bassac River, we arrived to a welcoming cold towel at 5.30pm and 3 nights of luxury at the lovely Victoria Hotel. More of that later. A couple of boat companies offer this border crossing, Victoria even have their own boat, though Blue Cruiser did us proud on our 1st time into Vietnam by the wet route.
The Cambodian passport office at Kaam Samnor
The waterborne immigration and arrival jetty at Ving Xuong, in Vietnam
The cloud formations above the Mekong River as we enter into Vietnam

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