We turned our backs on Cambodia for the first time on October 20. Following our journey along the Mekong river and along the Cambodian coastline we reached the southernmost border crossing along the Cambodian-Vietnamese border some time in the morning. Quite a change awaited us, because the different countries in South-East Asia seem to be more different than we would have expected. Our loop through the Mekong Delta should take roughly one week, while we explored towns, channels and markets.
Cambodians love concrete monuments: Durian roundabout in Kampot
After our first impressions of the remote areas of Cambodia and Phnom Penh, we headed out towards the sea. Once again successfully but not most efficiently, we avoided the commissions of guesthouses and travel agencies and bought the bus ticket directly from a bus company. After a 6 hour bus ride we got off the bus in a completely different world. This world was sporting beaches and palm trees and had a feel of peace, calm and relaxation. And of course a much more touristy feel to it all.
Following two wonderful days on Don Det and Don Khone islands time had come to say goodbye. To say goodbye to the wonderful landscape, to the country of Laos and also to say goodbye to a few people we had met along the way. While most tourists headed for Siem Reap and Angkor Wat in western Cambodia, we opted to slowly make our way along the Mekong river down to Phom Penh. Along the way we stopped in Kratie and Kampong Cham which proved to be two excellent choices.
After two days in the capital it was time to head south. First, the adventure of spending a night on a sleeper bus expected us, followed by very interesting experiences with local transport and local markets around the berautiful Bolaven plateau, where waterfalls are abundant.
After roughly 4 hours on the bus we arrived at the Northern Bus Station of Vientiane, the capital of Laos. While we first did not recognize any difference between the capital and any other place, the city bus at the bus station gave a first indication that a few things might be different after all. We spent roughly two days to discover how much Vientiane is different from the rest of the country.