Nina’s Travel Rule #2: Definitely Put the Book Down

Vietnam to Cambodia, so close, yet so far…

So a friend and I were recovering from a week of her insisting we get up at 6am to “see things”.  “See things” my ass, I have been travelling for 5 weeks and no longer, frankly, give a shit if I see one more temple / museum / interesting venue where tourists can waste money via enterprising locals (@blowingupcowswithbazookas) today (I love you, Aurora)!  I mean, I really did enjoy eating a snake pulled straight out of the Mekong (delicious, in curry), developing a bladder infection that required approximately 64,827 pills to cure (grand total: US$8), and sleeping in Bangkok airport with a dozen other people who were too lazy / cheap to go elsewhere (although really that’s not why.  I required the World Cup and was perfectly willing to give up a hotel to catch the US-England match).

Having now “seen” enough “things”, we’ve come to Phu Quoc Island, one of the prettiest spots in Vietnam.  Major applause for Paris Beach, a tiny place run by a charming French-Vietnamese woman, Ha, who imports things like real camembert and French wine, cooks fish thet staff have caught on the bbq for dinner, and somehow acquired my friend some prescription-only, probably-totally-illegal, after-sun-burn cream that she almost got kissed for.  Almost missed this gem, as we arrived by boat and asked the nearest scooter taxi to take us to the very highest rated establishment mentioned in The Bible of “Independent” Travel: the almightly Lonely Planet.  I mean, they’re great and all, and sometimes even necessary, but I’m super glad the crap-hole they’d recommended was full, since we got to stay in this billion times better place next door for like, half the price.  Did I mention Ha is putting in a pool?  You should go now…

But, alas, time to go… So we catch the ferry from Phu Quoc to Ha Tien, which appears to be real close to the border, and from where we kinda assume we can cross into Cambodia. Let me tell you, having been sold bus tickets to Phnom Penh for like 600,000 Dong (yes.  the Vietnamesee currency is the Dong. I know I’m being culturally insensitive, but I may never get over this.  I mean, every time I went to the ATM I found a million Dong in my pocket!  My friend had more dong than me…  I’ve left Vietnam, where’s all the Dong??  Nope, this will never end.) by a lady the day before does in no way mean that there will be a bus to Phnom Penh.  There was a bus, yes there was, but that is a whole nother story.

The ferry is special.  Its hull lies well below sea level, which we can see clearly through the upper portholes.  It has no ventilation or doors, and we have been shut in like rats.  Its TV is playing Anaconda, dubbed in Vietnamese, which is like, totally what you wanna watch at 9am after having been up all night watching football (damn the World Cup AGAIN) while crammed in a boat in the snake-infested waters of South-East Asia with 9,385 of your closest friends.  I’m sitting in the middle of the front row bench, my friend to the right, and a local lady with her kid on her lap to the left.  The boat leaves, and I promptly pass out, as I have slept 2 hours and am a tad knackered.  Happy happy sleep, yay, then SHOVE.  “What the crap?” I grunt at my friend, who glares at me and whines something unintelligible.  This repeats like, twice, at which point I snarl incoherently and take myself and my nap to the plastic bench next to the captain.  He doesn’t seem to mind, and I sleep like a dead rock.

Exiting the boat, I’m getting some truly evil looks from my now psychotic seeming friend, whose only comment is “I can’t fucking believe you did that, we will talk about it later!”  Nap?  You can’t believe I napped?  You’re the woman who’s been dragging me through a snake-infested swampland in a tugboat all morning! On shore, the story comes out.

Formerly Psycho Seeming Friend: “Omg, that woman spent AN HOUR vomiting into a tiny plastic bag all over your FACE”.

Me: ” Huh???”

FPSM: “And, you know, I wanted to sleep too, but the SMELL.  and the NOISE.

ME: “Wait, where the fuck was the bag??”

FPSM: “Over your FACE.  Then sloshing around on your FLIP FLOP”.

ME: “Oh Jesus.”

We decided she probably had SARS.  It’s ok though.  We got to walk across the Cambodian border after escaping a boat that we later found described in the all-knowing Lonely Planet with the words “do not take this ferry if you value your life”.  Now how many people can say that?

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