Today we woke up at 5:30 to the sound of the townâ€™s public loudspeaker (many Vietnamese cities have news, public information and music pumped out of these speakers at dawn) and a competing rooster. We took a morning stroll to the other side of town and were greeted by many smiling kids and Chau Docâ€™s very friendly population. We were the only tourists in sight.
After a quick breakfast we went directly to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum where we received an emotion-filled education on the brutality used by the Khmer Rouge at this prison camp, located in the middle of Phnom Penh. It was a more powerful experience than our visit to the Killing Fields the day before and weâ€™ve become inspired to learn more about this terrible period in Cambodiaâ€™s history.
At noon we boarded a high speed boat from Phnom Penh to Chau Doc, Vietnam. It was a beautiful ride down the Mekong River, passing fishing villages and other craft of varying sizes. After passing through both the Cambodian check point and the Vietnamese border control, we were officially in Vietnam once again!
Our evening in Chau Doc was relaxing and we took a cyclo to a floating restaurant on the other side of town. The mosquitoes are fierce in this town and after a long day of journeying we retreated into the air-conditioned hotel room for the night.
We’re not making a lot of definite plans for this trip. There’s so much to see and do that we’re going to need to go with the flow. However, we are very interested in spending some quality time in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam, in the south of the country. In the latter half of the trip, there’s a good chance we’ll cross the border by land from Cambodia back into Vietnam at the town of Chau Doc. Other possible cities include Ha Tien, also near the border, and Rach Gia, famous for its fishing. Our friend, Thu, and her family are from Rach Gia. Most importantly, we’ve got our eye on a good 5 or 6 days on the island of Phu Quoc, just off the coast of Vietnam, again, near the border with Cambodia. That might be the perfect sun and sand destination we seek on this trip!
Last year I took a 2 day organized tour to the Mekong Delta from Ho Chi Minh City. Most of the people on the tour were Vietnamese, city folk, some of whom had never spent any time in the major city of Can Tho and the floating markets of the Delta. In fact, some of the young travelers worked in HCMC’s growing hi-tech industry. Too see just how different the Delta is for people like them and like me, I’ve posted a video journey from a boat floating down a river from last year’s trip.