the fast boat from Chau Doc to Phnom Penh
Thursday 12th November
The boat to Phnom Penh left from our hotel's floating restaurant,
which was very convenient, as I could scoff my coffee before boarding
around 8am. Other passengers were trooping through with their luggage
— including what looked like an entire German tour group.
We were soon out of Chau Doc and heading upstream. The river opened
out onto a huge expanse of open water, but we mostly followed the left
(true right) bank, with flat paddy fields — as well as sand piles,
cranes, barges, and so forth.
The boat wasn't too crowded and it was easy to move around. Inside the
cabin was shaded, and some people sat there and read. The windows
didn't open, but it was possible to take photos from inside through the
A door at the front gave access to the bow, where it was possible to perch
on a bench. And the final option was to clamber out the side doors,
along the edge of boat - with a rail to hang onto but nothing between
you and the river if you lost your grip on that! - and then pull oneself
onto the roof of the cabin.
It was mostly overcast, so not too hot from the sun, and there was a nice
breee from the boat's movement.
At about 9.20am we reached the border.
We handed over our passports with the visa fee of $23 and waited in a
little restaurant for the customs and health clearance;
then we got back on boat and were given our passports back.
The boat moved on into Cambodia for immigration, where we sat around
under pagodas, eventually got our passports back with visas in them,
took them to the window to be stamped many times, and had them checked again on reboarding. Richard gave
me his remaining dong here -- he wasn't returning to Vietnam.
We were given the cheese and bacon bun, the two bananas, and the bottle
of water that were included in the boat fare. I threw my banana skins
into the river, which had almost no garbage in it at all — was
all that water moving everything downstream too fast?
The boat company was Hang Chau. The tickets were $21, though I could
have got them for $18 from Long at the Hoa Sen bookshop.
For a while the boat was in the middle of river and there wasn't much
to be seen, so I read a bit and used the guidebook-on-laptop to
check hotels in Phnom Penh.
It was mostly overcast and pleasant with the boat moving. There were
temples along the river every so often, but fewer buildings and no signs
of any industry. There were people washing their cows, working in the
fields or on boats, and so forth, and some of them waved at us from
In places there were pipes hanging out above river, I think where boats
are used as portable irrigation pumps, and at one point we passed a
big hospital "Ship of Life" moored at the side of the river. But I was
surprised how few other boats we passed — the river is surely the
easy way to move anything heavy around.
more buildings as we approached Phnom Penh: even a little high-rise,
some shiny new apartment blocks with Khmer "temple" tops.
Next: Phnom Penh: National Museum + Wat Phnom
Previous: Tra Su bird sanctuary
Up: Vietnam + Cambodia