Crossing from Vietnam to Cambodia was fairly painless. There were no corrupt border guards, spontaneous strip-searches, or invasive baggage inspections. The guard checking the x-ray screen for our luggage was actually having a nap. He was slumped back in his chair, mouth softly forming the embarrassing ‘O’ of the public sleeper. Everyone still dutifully put their bags on the conveyor belt. It seemed like the right thing to do.
On the way back to Vietnam, instead of quietly fretting about the border crossing, I took a closer look at the food on offer at the enforced rest stop. There was a literal bounty of pineapple on the ground. At least five different pineapple stalls were squashed next to each other, all cut and packaged in exactly the same way, all priced at 50 cents a pineapple. Each vendor, all female, shouted, “Pineapple, madam? You want pineapple?” It was like the scene from the little mermaid where the former merpeople reach up to Ariel’s flippers from Ursula’s garden, desperate to be chosen.
I blindly wandered to the nearest table of pineapples and purchased a bagged pineapple. Delicious. Took away all thoughts of the hygiene-challenged squat toilet I had just experienced. Well, almost.
The next rest stop was devoid of pineapples, but was the first to boast a bucket of tomato-stuffed turtles. Even some of the locals on our bus paused to gawk at them.
I spotted a praying mantis in the wild (on a potted plant outside the rest stop), so I took about eight blurry pictures of it to kill time.
The rest of the bus journey passed without incident, unless you count the mind-numbing traffic on the way back into Ho Chi Minh City. It turned out to be the same mind-numbing traffic we encountered on the way out later that afternoon.
But it was all worth it. Next stop: Mui Ne.