After spending 2 weeks in Vietnam it was time for us to head to Cambodia, we were sad to be leaving Vietnam (although pleased to be departing HCMC) but also excited to see what Cambodia had on offer.
The journey from HCMC to Phnom Penh was long, exciting, exhausting and also a highlight!
Matt & I came up with the brilliant idea of getting from HCMC to Phnom Penh via the Mekong River, that was until we started to research and realized it was going to cost a lot more than our budget would allow.
While I was researching however I kept coming across people recommending ‘Jason’ I had no clue who this Jason was but I was determined to find out!
After a little more research I came across 2 email addresses and a Facebook page, sent him a message to all 3 which basically said “we want to get from HCMC to Phnom Penh…can you help” and within 24 hours he had responded with a detailed outline of how we would do this and a few different options to choose from.
Matt & I read his proposal, if I am honest it made us a little nervous, I am not entirely sure why but it in the end we decided what the heck lets to do it!
Unfortunately Jason wasn’t available the day we were ready to leave HCMC but his cousin, Mr Vu Handsome was, and so it was settled, Mr Vu would be our guide and help us get from A to B.
We were picked up around 7am from our hotel by one of Jason’s drivers who drove us a couple of hours to Cai Be where Mr Vu was waiting for us.
Mr Vu then got our tickets and we boarded a private boat (we left our luggage with the driver) and we explored the Cai Be floating markets and even boarded a fruit boat where the girls ate their weight in fresh mangos and we all got to try some fruits we had never heard of! One even tasted like candy, no joke!
We then pulled up to the entrance of the mainland market where Mr Vu led Eden around by hand (by this stage it was clear Eden had developed a little crush on Mr Vu!) while the rest of us followed. It was awesome, we got to see lots of live animals; frogs, eels, chickens & rats as well as some unusual things; cows eyes & tails to name a few!
Eden loved touching them all; even though the photos show a different story!
We took a tiny ferry across the river to a little island where we walked the streets of a local village before heading to a temple.
Afterwards our private boat picked us up and took us to our sampan boat to cruise the small canals. It was very relaxing and we virtually had the canals to ourselves; only at the very end did we see another sampan boat.
Our private boat met us again and took us back to the boat station where our driver was waiting to take us to Mr Vu’s parents house in Hoa Khanh village.
Upon arrival Mr Vu’s parents, one sister and nephew greeted us so warmly and presented us with fresh fruit from their own fruit trees!
The girls immediately made themselves at home, a little embarrassing but no one seemed to mind! In fact Mr Vu’s parents found some toys for them to play with but not only that they played with the girls too while the sister snuck them treats!
We then “helped” make lunch, really they made it for us although we did get to wrap the dumplings/wontons (which were so delicious!) and we saw how Mr Vu’s Mom prepared & cooked the fresh fish.
Once everything was cooked it was time to eat. I can not tell you how much food there was; we had the wontons, an omelette, soup, sweet & sour pork, chicken dish and of course the fish, as well as salad items & crackers!
The soup was definitely a favorite but it was all REALLY good.
After lunch we relaxed some more, the kids played & watched T.V. with their ‘Vietnamese Grandparents’ which is what I now refer to them as! It was a really nice day and I think the girls would have been happy to spend the next week there but it was time for us to say goodbye to Vietnam and make our way to Cambodia!
Our driver dropped us & Mr Vu off at the bus station where we waited and waited and waited for our sleeper bus. Unfortunately it was a couple hours late arriving but Mr Vu stayed with us the entire time to ensure we boarded the right bus heading to Chau Doc (he even bought the girls candy!)
We did have the option to pay extra and have Jason’s driver takes us to Chau Doc but since we were doing things on a budget we opted for the sleeper bus which Jason reserved for us.
When the sleeper bus finally arrived we said our goodbyes to Mr Vu, Eden gave him a huge hug and was a little sad that we only got to hang out with him for the day.
The sleeper bus was uneventful; Eden slept, Matt tried to sleep but Clio made that a little difficult for him and I just watched.
We arrived to Chau Doc at 9pm that night and got the free shuttle to our hotel which Jason had again reserved for us, got something quick to eat and called it a night; we were all exhausted.
The next morning we had to be up and ready by 7am as we were being collected from our hotel and taken to the boat station to catch the high speed boat to Phnom Penh; again our boat reservations & all the arrangements were taken care of by Jason.
I can not recommend Jason & Mr Vu enough, their service is second to none, regardless of how many emails I sent, Jason always responded promptly and made me feel at ease. Mr Vu is knowledgable of the Mekong area (and Vietnam too) so friendly as is his family and the home cooked meal was amazing.
If you are planning a trip to Ho Chi Minh City or Mekong Delta area I highly recommend getting in touch with Jason, he has numerous tours on offer in both these places and I am positive you will have as memorable experience as we did.