Sometimes things do not go as planned while traveling. This was already evident on my first day in Vietnam. In Phnom Penh, I applied for a 3 month visa and intended to spend a few weeks in the southern part of the country.
Immediately after the border crossing in Tinh Bien I realized that here in Vietnam the area is much more densely populated than in Cambodia. 5 years ago I had traveled to the north of the country before.
This differs particularly geographically from the Mekong Delta in South Vietnam. The area is almost flat and there are hardly any gradients (apart from the bridges).
The river delta was created by sedimentation instead of a sea bay and still grows today by about 80 meters per year. It covers an area of approximately 39,000 km².
Whenever possible, I try to camp wildly somewhere. In Thailand and Cambodia this was not a problem at all and if there is no space available you can still ask for permission at a school, hospital or temple.
As I still had no room for my tent around 5:00 pm on the first day (here in Southeast Asia at 6:00 pm), I stopped at a school.
The people there helped me and even opened a separate toilet for me. Just as I fell dead tired in bed, two police officers appeared. They did not speak English and had to call their superiors to the square first.
He then told me that tourists in Vietnam have to stay in a hotel. However, I was too tired to move to a hotel. After I asked him if he could make an exception, he got angry.
In a communist country, one does not question the authority of a policeman and follows his instructions. But I react extremely allergic to such idiots. Of course, I vehemently refused.
Half an hour later, the next supervisor showed up and decided to move me to a hotel at the expense of the police. So I finally had to put my things back together.
All the while, the song
My entire passport was photographed at the hotel and I had to sign a form written in Vietnamese. And I felt like a protagonist in the novel <1984> by George Orwell. Welcome to communist Vietnam!
At night, I racked my brains over how to proceed. The next morning, the owner should have called the police to accompany me to the ferry across the Mekong River and ensure that I continue on the agreed route.
However, I had zero buck this uniformed full post with cavity between the ears to look again in the face. So I got up at 4:30 and quickly packed everything together.
The owner of the hotel still tried to stop me and to inform the police by telephone. But by this time I was already back on the road and disappeared in the dark.
Joy and sorrow are close together. Around noon I reached the city of Can Tho and stayed there at the Enjoy Mekong Hostel.
The city is not only the largest in the delta, but also its economic, scientific and cultural center. The tourists come here mainly to visit the Floating Markets.
The hostel was a real haven for me after the first unpleasant day in this country. The owner enjoyed my trip and introduced me to the local cycling club.
I liked the place so much that I finally spent 10 days there. Then I got into the saddle again with the destination Saigon (also called Ho Chi Minh City). I mastered the route in 2 days.
Saigon is the largest city and the economic center of Vietnam. In the administrative area of the city live about 9 million inhabitants. I did not like the city from the start. Especially the many scooters made the cycling not really pleasant.
In addition, virtually everything is currently fully booked at accommodation. After a few unsuccessful attempts to get a room, I decided to leave this country and cycle back to Cambodia.
Almost every patch of land was inhabited right up to the border and most of the time I had to search late into the night to set up my tent somewhere. I almost felt like a criminal and I had no desire to meet again with the local police.
I was almost relieved when I was able to return to Cambodia. From my planned 3 months in Vietnam was in the end just a 2 week stay.
I was particularly impressed by the visit of the people who suffered from this political repression. Despite the daily discrimination, they radiate an enormously positive life energy.
I could not even begin to imagine living in such a country and unfortunately, after my experience, I would advise bicyclists not to visit the south of Vietnam.
Back in Phnom Penh I had to wait another 5 days for a new Thailand Visa. In East Africa you can apply for a 3 month visa for 100 .- $, which allows you to visit all East African countries during this period (similar to the Schengen Visa in Europe). Why can not ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) issue such a visa?
At exactly the same time Sonja and Aki arrived in the capital. They flew to Nepal from Nepal, where we met last, and happened to be in Cambodia.
Of course we had a lot to tell us. The rest of the time I used to repair my things and refresh my stock of books. After waiting for 5 days, I finally received my Thailand visa.
The next day I left Phnom Penh immediately. Meanwhile, I spent almost 1 month in this city. Almost too much for my taste.
You can never really get used to the heat here in Southeast Asia. More about the fact that one constantly sticks the clothes on the skin. I decided on Highway No. 5 via Pursat, Battambang and Sisophon to Poipet to the border to cycle.
The food supply here in Cambodia is already a bit getting used to. Somehow I am sometimes really happy to be a vegetarian, when I drive past the individual barbecue areas along the street. Do you prefer a bird or a rat?
I longed for a 7eleven shop and wanted to get back to Bangkok as fast as possible. The heat increased my water consumption to almost 8 liters per day. Luckily, there are plenty of shops along the highway, so I did not have to worry about dehydration.
Finding a campsite was not a big problem here in Cambodia. There is another dilemma: Cambodian weddings. Shrill and loud music is turned on until late at night.
Weddings are apparently very big in the trend. Because almost every village I saw at least 2-3 weddings at the same time. In my opinion, this has nothing to do with romance, but rather borders on terrorism.
Immediately after crossing the border in Poipet I stormed the first 7eleven I saw. Finally chocolate again! Every true Swiss knows how to feel after several months of chocolate removal.
I am always impressed by the fact that people here load everything onto their vehicles. Unbelievable what loads are transported. The limit is only in your own imagination.
In Bangkok I was able to stay in the Spinning Bears Hostel again and got to know Heike from Germany cyclingcharlotte.com.
She has been traveling with her bike (Charlotte) for 3.5 years and has now decided to end her trip in Bangkok. Soon she flew back home.
I really enjoyed talking to a cyclist who has been traveling for so long. Some of Heike's travelogues pretty much made me ponder my own route.
I do not know exactly where the journey should go. At first I enjoy the comfort of a big city and follow my intuition ...