From Koh Rong we got a ferry back to Sihanoukville where we stayed one night before our trek to Vietnam! We bought our minibus tickets from a warm and friendly Vietnamese lady who seemed the most trustworthy of all the travel booking shops along the main street.
What she explained to us: We’d get a mini bus from Sihanoukville at 8am where it would take 7 hours to get us to the Cambodian/Vietnam border, Ha Tien, and then from the border to Ho Chi Minh we would swap from the mini bus to a sleeper bus and that it would take another 3 hours, so 10 hours altogether arriving at about 6pm. We both said to her we didn’t really need a sleeper bus for the 3 hours since it would still be day time but she said it is very comfortable so don’t worry. For the record we have been doing more research than this. And for what happened next, I’m glad we do and from now on we will continue to do that!
What really happened: At 7:30am (half an hour before) we waited at the spot the lady had said to wait. 8:10am the minibus arrived and we started our journey. Another couple who were also going to Ho Chi Minh said they had taken this journey before and that we wouldn’t be arriving there until at least 10pm! We felt jipped! The whole journey ended up taking 15 hours and after a taxi from the bus station to Ho Chi Minh City it was 11:30pm. Thankfully, the hostel we went to that was recommended by Sam (thanks Sam J) had 2 spots in a 10 mixed dorm! After a long and hot journey we were exhausted and couldn’t wait to sleep.
We ended up spending a week in Ho Chi Minh and while that would be lots of time to explore, we mainly recouped from tummy bugs in a hostel room. However, we did find some great spots for Pho and had a massage from the Blind people’s association from Vietnam. Despite it being a good cause, for both of us it was the worst massages we’ve ever had!
Due to the time on our visa ticking away we took a flight to Hue (midway up Vietnam). The cheapest flight we could get was at 8:30pm and we had to check out at 12pm so we left our bags at the hostel, went and got some lunch, used the wifi and decided to take the bus to the airport (which was $1 by the way for a seat for me, Kel and both of our backpacks)! I think we spent about 5 hours at the airport.
Hue has been a refreshing change from Ho Chi Minh! We managed to score a massive family room that had fast wifi, two tv’s, huge beds and was on the topfloor – all for the same price as a double room! It was because we had arrived so late in Hue as our flight was delayed and it was the last room they had available so the manager gave us an awesome deal! It has been an amazing hotel – everyone is very friendly and so helpful which is how the rest of the Hue-ians have been!!
On the second day of being in Hue we felt stronger and were sick of being in hotel rooms so we decided to get up early, hire a motorbike and conquer the Hai Van Pass, as seen on topgear, all the way to Hoi An for a day trip. Many people either stay a night there or continue on from Hoi An as it is a long drive – it’s about 140 km one way! We ended up driving 9 out of the 10 hour journey!! It. Was. Amazing!!!!! Windy, scary one lane roads where cars, buses, trucks and motorbikes all share – the scariest being the buses overtaking trucks around blind bends with no space if a vehicle was coming the other way!!! If I put my arm straight out, some of the trucks and buses would be an elbow’s length away. A bit too close for comfort but the truck drivers were all so smiley and happy – they could probably sense our nervousness! To be honest, I was holding on to Kel for dear life most of the way haha. The ride was definitely breathtaking in more ways than one!
As dangerous as it was, the views were spectacular! We were halfway up mountains with the oceans below with more mountains and beaches further ahead. No wonder topgear filmed here, it was unlike anything we’ve ever seen!
Despite the beautiful views and the exhilarating ride, my bottom has never been SO sore. I would equate it to 9 hours of horse riding haha. My bottom was aching and with every bump from the road I was counting the kilometres back to Hue.
After being the passenger while Kel drove, today we BOTH decided to hire scooters and I’m so glad we got one each! It was SOOO much fun!! There are so many scooters and motorbikes on the road the thought of it was scary but it’s actually so fun. We spent all day riding and are now waiting for a bus from here to Dong Hoi to explore some of the world’s largest caves. The bus apparently takes 4 hours but who knows haha.