After leaving my parents in Chiang Mai (I had done Myanamar with them), I took the night bus down to Bangkok and got in early in at 06:30. I had met a couple who had already been to Bangkok and were going to go to the same hotel near Khao San Road as they had the last time. I went with, but ended up staying at the hotel next door, as it was a bit cheaper - every cent counts when you are travelling for five months. I bought myself a bus ticket to Siem Reap and then went about discovering the area. The next day I left early in the morning (every is always early: 05:00 - 7:30). The trip was fine until we got to the border. The first thing was the scam whereby the bus company gets you to buy the visa at a restaurant before the border, for an additional cost - you could get the visa at border itself. Most of us, me included, fell for it. The other side of the border the road was a nightmare and I had made the mistake of sitting on the back seat. I was thrown around and wondered what the start of my back would be by the end. Arriving in Seam Reap, along with two other people, I opted not to stay in the guest house where we had been dropped. This is another trick, since they get commission if you check into the guest house. Instead we took a tuk-tuk down closer to town and found anothe gues house, called the 'Smile Guest House'. We met another group of three who has been dropped by another bus and had also decided on another hotel. We went and ate at the 'Dead Fish Restaurant', where first discovered the strange practice of paying in Dollars and Real in the same transaction. The next three days was spent discovering the ancient ruins of Angkor. It was fantastic and I could almost have spent more time discovering the place. Maybe next time when I have a bigger budget and more time? After that it was down to Phnom Penh by boat. The water was high enough to permit us to use one boat for the whole journey. The boat was a long speed boat, with people sitting inside and others sitting on the roof. I felt a little claustophobic sitting at the back, since it was very tight and there was no door at the back. On arrival we were surrounded by moto drivers and tuk-tuk drivers trying to overcharge us to get anywhere. I stayed a few days in Phnom Penh, discovering the city, visiting the Genocide museum (located in the grounds of what was S-21). I was staying with some friends of the family, but left them a day before I left, since I was also trying to do stuff with some people I had met along the way. The other issue was that it was not really near the facilities I needed to plan the next part of my trip. I moved in the back packer area near the lake and organised my bus to Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon). One thing I didn't appreciate in Phnom Penh were the moto drivers that would agree to a price and destination, and then get lost and trying to charge you extra. While in Phnom Penh I also organised my visa to Laos and got the visa dates for Vietnam changed - I had misplanned, so I still had another 10 days until I could go to Vietnam, hence the need to bring forward my entry date. I could have used the time to discover Cambodia in more detail, but I felt that there was still so much to do in my trip as it was. The bus trip to Ho Chi Minh city (HCMC) was comfortable and made a big difference to the one coming in. No scams this time :) On arrival in HCMC we were dropped off at 'Happy Tours', the company handling the Vietnam leg of the bus journey. After having been in Cambodia where every moto driver wanted to get your money, it was nice not to be hassled when we arrived. I left my bags at the agent and went to find a hotel near by. My time in HCMC was spent visiting the river delta and visiting the tunnels at Cu Chi, which were used by the Vietnamese during the Vietnam war with the Americains. After that I booked my bus up to Hue, with Sinh Cafe (www.sinhcafevn.com). Sinh Cafe offers what are known as 'open tours', whereby you pay for the whole journey, but it is broken down into stages where you can stay for as long as you want. My first stop was Dalat where I spent a day with a tour discovering the surrounding area. Next was Nha Trang, where I am currently located. So far a budget of $20 a day is fine, though it can get more expensive when include the price of transport and some of the visits.
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