First of all, I apologize for the lack of visual evidence when it comes to this endeavor. My mind was otherwise occupied between these particular hours of 2 – 5am.
After a relaxing day on Koh Rong Samloem, we ferried back to the mainland and grabbed a bite at our go-to Sihanoukville spot, Monkey Republic Hostel (I know I know, sooo cultural, but they had such good vegetarian dishes!) Finally, around 8pm our bus pulled up, and we were pleasantly surprised to find that sides of the bus were lined with bunk beds so our overnight haul to Ho Chi Minh City wouldn’t be too bad after all!
I will say, I was very glad to be traveling with someone I know well because the bunks were two to a bed and I can assume I would have been unimaginably awkward if I had had to snuggle with a random stranger all night.
For six hours everything was fine and dandy. We watched movies, we slept, all was well. Then, around 2am, we pulled into Phnom Penh where we thought we were making a quick pit stop before carrying on across to Vietnam.
No such luck.
They hurried us all off of the bus and were told not to worry, the bus to HCM City would be arriving shortly. A van did in fact arrive about 10 minutes later, and the seven of us that clambered in were very quickly disappointed when we were driven around the corner and deposited in front of a mangy building in the middle of the city with a man who spoke absolutely no English. I mean, that’s so fine. Its your country…but…what’s happening?
He swatted us up the stairs into a big, dark, open room and signaled for us to sleep on said tile floor. It must have looked like an audition for “The Walking Dead” as we all fumbled around the room in a groggy haze trying to make sense of the situation, but eventually everyone conceded into huddled balls positioned around the edge of the room. Ok, I’ll say it, not the best sleep of my life.
Around 5:30am, by some grace of some kind of higher being, a French guy in our little group decided to go downstairs for something only to discover that our bus was there and about to leave all of us. We scrambled all of our things together, rushed down the stairs, and boarded our bus to Vietnam, glad to find that we had not in fact been sold into slavery despite our concerns throughout the night.
Compared to the Thai/Cambodian crossing, the border control getting into Vietnam was easy as pie, and despite the fact that we arrived seven hours later than advertised, we made it one exhausted piece to Ho Chi Minh City.