Saturday, 8 September 2012

Crossing Border Moc Bai - Bavet

Second Time | Different Thing

This is my second time of crossing border. The first one was early this year, from Thailand (Aranyaprathet) to Cambodia (Poipet). And it was by six hours train journey all the way from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet and another two hours from Poipet to Siem Reap. This time, by six hours bus journey through Vietnam (Moc Bai) and Cambodia (Bavet). 

Saya bab naik bas yang saya tak senang duduk ialah nak buang air. Kalau bas tidak mahu berhenti saya nak buang di mana?

There was nothing much for me to prepare. Visa to Cambodia is not required from Malaysian. All I need to do is get a bus trip from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, that cost USD 13. Since I was rushing on the first day, I requested the receptionist assistance to get a bus ticket to Phnom Penh. Any company would do, I said. So, we were recommended to travel with Kumho Samco. I agreed, even though originally I was searching for Mekong Delta Express. 

Bus Schedule
Normally there would be four bus trip to Phnom Penh from Ho Chi Minh City. I choose 13:00, an hour after checking out from the hotel. The bus was nice, slightly more space for our feet compared to our local buses in Malaysia. Given a mineral bottle and tissue each, we left Ho Chi Minh City around 13:15 to Phnom Penh. 

To my surprise, there were more tourists on the bus compared to local people e.g. Russian, French, Philippines, Japanese, Americans etc. The bus conductor requested for our passport so I gave it to him. Upon seeing that I came from Malaysia, he did not ask further for visa. 

I brought a novel, written by my ex-roomate while in campus entitled Pecah by Nizam Bakeri (yeah, I can read on a moving vehicle). But I was too tired that I felt asleep within the first one hour of travelling. 

Approaching the Border
Two hours later, we approached the border in Moc Bai. I do not know why, crossing border always cause chills in my stomach. I know I mean no harm, have nothing dangerous in my bag or appear to be terrorist or whatsoever, but I always felt uncomfortable going through the unfriendly immigration ambience. 

No one told us to get off the bus for immigration purpose at the counter. Tourists were clueless, myself included. But seeing many people getting off their vehicle, I thought I should just jumped into the bandwagon. After all, the bus conductor got off the bus with my passport! Ironically, crossing border (JB - Singapore) requires us to bring all things for immigration checking, nothing should be left in the vehicle. I only brought my camera bag to the immigration counter, while my backpack is safe and sound in the bus.  

People were queuing in front of the counter, but my name was called first. No interview whatsoever. Phew. I walked by a small duty free shop, selling mostly liquor, showed by stamped passport to the officer in front of the door and got on our bus. That was easy.  

Within few metres we got off the bus again for Cambodian immigration. I noticed that Cambodian immigration counters require us to put all five fingers for scanning. I remembered I did the same thing in Poipet. 

Sights in Bavet
We got on the bus again. Four more hours to go. 
I could not sleep. The bus kept on honking to warn pedestrians, motorcyclists and even animals from crossing the two way road. And it was a bumpy road along Bavet. 

The paddy field. House lots. Shops. Nothing new to me. Except for some hopeful Cambodian kids approaching tourists for food and money. 

The bus dropped by at a local restaurant for 20 minutes. Some of us did not get off. Even though I was hungry, but I was certain the food served at the restaurant was not halal. So I ate my biscuit instead. 

I saw some Cambodian women and kids approaching the tourists getting off the buses. Non of them received any money or food. I only have 50 USD in my pocket. And RM 10. I need to survive in Phnom Penh too. 

Crossing Mekong River
We arrived at the Neak Leoung Ferry Terminal. I saw the gate was closed, signaling that they were about to sail soon. The bus driver and the bus conductor immediately got off the bus, heading to the counter, perhaps to negotiate so that we can join in for this sailing trip. 

An old man from Philippines sitting in front of me got off as well, perhaps to the toilet. I think he was not aware that this is not a stop spot for toilet. Few minutes later, I saw the gate was opened widely and the bus driver and the bus conductor quickly got into the bus and started driving onto the ferry. 

The wife of the Phillippines man alerted the driver that her husband was left in the toilet. Luckily the old man managed to get into our bus and we sailed for 35 minutes to the other side. 

Just imagine if I was alone. And I need to pee. I would be left behind with some cash of USD 50. Phew!

While the ferry was sailing, I decided to get off the bus to get some fresh air and to take some photos. There were Cambodian people selling things I do not recognise. I walked to the back side to take a look what was behind of our bus. Nothing! If the ferry pulled its break abruptly, the bus would fall into the river!

Incident that I regret
While getting off the bus to get some fresh air, I saw a Cambodian boy, with no arms, boarding onto our bus, begging for some money or food from the passengers. I could not look into his face or his physical state because I was so terrified. He stood there still. No one gave him anything. And I was wondering how can he receive anything at the first place since he has no arms. I was terrified and I think that was plain stupid. 

The bus conductor reached for a mineral water and put into his pocket. He smiled and left our bus. Few minutes later the ferry arrived at the other side of the river, I quickly got onto the bus. From inside the bus, I saw the Cambodian boy with no arm sat on a nearby bench, trying to open the mineral water. I should have given him some of my biscuits. This is one of the incident that I regretted the most. I silently cried at my seat, but that does not comfort me at all. Even after I arrived in Phnom Penh about two hours later. 

See, we have so many things to be thankful of.

Arrival in Phnom Penh
I thought our final stop was Sorya Bus Station. But I was wrong. The bus stopped at its own terminal - a shop house lot. The moment I got off the bus, I was surrounded by determined Tuk Tuk drivers. I saved the map from Sorya Bus Station to my hotel i.e. Holiday Villa City Centre Hotel, but at that moment I was entirely clueless of where I was. I had to engaged the service of the Tuk Tuk Driver. Even if I am going to be ripped off. 

One of them was chosen. He said USD 4. Fair enough. So we headed to our hotel. 

I was advised that it is not safe to wander around Phnom Penh at night. So I stayed at the hotel and slept early. The six hours journey was really tiring. 

Till then, 

Hairi Tahir

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2 Nukilan:

city said...

thanks for sharing.

Hairi Tahir said...

thanks for reading =)

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