We went in convoy to the border with Cambodia where our Vietnam agent had already pre-cleared our passports for exit.
A short stop to say goodbye to our brilliant agents, and a cursory checkbox tick for the cars from the authorities and we were out of Vietnam in a jiffy.
Just one last group photo before leaving, and we will see the crew again in North Vietnam when we finish.
On the Cambodian side, immigration was equally slick. Our immigration forms had already been organised and all we had to do was sign our visa and away we went.
First impressions of Cambodia. Lack of motor cycles. The whole of Cambodia has a population of 16 million, and there are 16 million people in Ho Chi Minh City alone and everyone has a motor cycle, so the contrast with less traffic here was stark. The roads are straight and fast and very well maintained.
The countryside is green and largely unpopulated, at least where we are. At times it felt like driving through Hampshire, except for the sign “Elephants crossing”. We saw monkeys too, so an immediate contrast to Vietnam. Buddhism, Temples and monks on motorcycles were evident on the way.
Our first attraction though was the crab market at Kep. Crab and shellfish are kept fresh in baskets in the sea until a customer wants to purchase. Crabs are chosen and cooked straight away and eaten hot and fresh. The market was heaving with stalls and visitors, all attracted to this panoply of delightful food.
Next up was a trip up to Bokor Hill Station, a 30km climb of hairpin bends to the top with lovely views and historical sites. The Hill Station was established by the French in 1925 and subsequently abandoned twice, during WWII and the Khmer Rouge period. The area including Bokor “mountain” was established as a national park in 1993, with its 1500 sq kilometers spanning four Cambodian provinces. Only a few buildings remain.
An exhilarating end to the day was enjoyed on fast sweeping roads with little traffic until we reached our hotel for the night at Tatai, where check in couldn’t have been more welcoming.
A very hot day was relieved for many by a plunge into a very refreshing pool and a cold Cambodian beer.