After leaving the beach town of Sihanoukville, we boarded a bus, traveled through a series of back roads and dirt paths for about 4 hours, and then made it to the Cambodia Vietnam border. This wasn’t the magical cultural experience that the Thai Cambodian border crossing was. Oh no. This was scary. You could tell that there was a shift in the culture, as if the pressure in the room increased. The presence of communism was already oppressive. To cross the border, you have to engage in institutionalized bribery and pay the officials 20,000 Dong. Even though it’s only 1 dollar, it’s the principle!

We drove just a little onward to spend the night in the small and unimpressive town of Chau Doc, a mere stepping-stone on our journey to Ho Chi Minh City. Another difference between Cambodia and Vietnam became abundantly clear – the people of Vietnam are richer, and therefore fatter than those of Cambodia. English is mandatory in the schools and people are everywhere. It really shows that they are one of the most populous countries in the world (I think they’re number 3?).

A view from Vietnam. The mountains in the distance are the border with Cambodia.

The only thing of note that we did in Chau Doc, and it was really actually exciting, was to ride on the back of motorbikes through the city and out to the countryside up a local holy mountain. As we rode up, we went through all of the back alleys of the town and saw every little kid waved to us. At the top of the mountain there was a beautiful view of the sunset over the Mekong Delta, but I had other concerns. I started hanging out with the motorbike drivers and tried to pick up their mysterious card game. Here’s what I’ve learned: It’s called Chinese Poker and you play all 13 cards at once in 3 poker hands. How it’s scored? A total mystery. It was a lot of fun, even though I lost every time, but I’m determined to improve!

What is this game?!?

Since this a light post, I’ll finish off with a brief collection of all of the food I remembered to take pictures of through out Cambodia! And don’t salivate too much! I’m going to try and do this for every country.

A Tapioca Porridge for Dessert

Deep Fried Crickets for a light appetizer

A simple chicken curry with white rice, a Cambodian staple.

Chicken with cashews. That glaze is kind of tangy and delicious and I think it’s served with spring onions.

A traditional Cambodian dish called Amouk. It is rice cooked with whatever coconut, some veggies, meat (chicken, in this case) and served in a coconut.

Steamed beef garnished with ants. Yum.

Some light Cambodian dumplings filled with pork.

Some light spring rolls, vegetarian style.

Fermented Duck Egg. This was not one of my favorites. The sauce was so salty.

This dish was called “Khmer Special Ingredient with Rice.” Still no news on what the special ingredient was.

A version of chicken lok lak, a cambodian dish with some local spices and peppers. This one has a fried egg on top.

And the posts will be coming fast and furious now that I’m back in Thailand and I can post freely. Buckle up.