KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
Up at the crack of dawn to watch the sun rise over the Mekong River. It did not disappoint. There were countless women doing their morning exercises - many doing Tai Chi - but the majority were just walking quickly along the boulevard swinging their arms. We wanted to join them but we had to be down stairs at 6:15 to catch our bus to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).
The trip to the border was very comfortable aboard a large, modern air-conditioned bus. The charge was an extremely reasonable USD 12.00. The scenery was delightful, the road modern and when we boarded the bus, the attendant collected all our passports to complete the paperwork for the border crossing. There were three other foreigners on the bus, the remaining passengers were mostly Vietnamese travellers - businessmen and families. I was pleased to see that the bus fare was within reach of the local people.
When we arrived at the border, we were asked to disembark and we had a short wait inside the Cambodian passport control office. We walked through the building and climbed into the bus once again. Then we drove a short distance to the Vietnamese entry checkpoint, were asked to get off the bus again and then back on, one by one, as the officials checked our passports photos. With this brief process, we were in a new country. It had to be the most efficient border crossing I have ever encountered in all my travels in the developing world. David made the comment that having the attendant fill out all the paperwork was worth the cost of the entire bus fare.
On we travelled to Saigon, and found that the office for the tour bus we were using was within two blocks of our hotel on Pham Ngu Lao Street. The day could not have been easier. There was room at the Red Sun Hotel - the same place that we stayed at when we visited three years ago. The staff at the reception desk were new, but the owner was the same and remembered us well. We are an easy couple to remember being a mixed-race couple and older travellers too. We settled into our rooms only to find that David was now running a temperature and was fast coming down with the same thing that befell Jeong Ae and me a couple of days earlier. Rats! Well, at least we were in a clean, comfortable hotel and a major city once again should we have to seek medical attention. We had recovered quite quickly so we were confident that David would too. Somehow, through all of this, Anil stayed healthy. He was the only one who had stayed away from the ice at the beach, which led us to think that the ice was the culprit.
The next day while David recuperated at the Red Sun, Jeong Ae and I explored the shops in the neighbourhood - she found some new clothes and I visited a hair salon to have my hair coloured. We tried an Indian restaurant in the evening but the food was only mediocre. We found out too late that the cook was Cambodian, not Indian. He just didn't have the necessary experience with Indian cooking to get it just right. Made me look forward to the good food that awaits us when we visit India in mid-November.