Good morning Vietnam

Or rather good afternoon.

The boat from Phnom Penh to Chau Doc (Vietnam) was pretty painless. Comfortable ride, easy border paperwork, the only thing is that it took 5 hours instead of the 4 it said in the guide (either the guide was wrong, or it didn't include the 2 half hour breaks at the border, as we were told 5 hours is the norm).

Lucas and Aisha were chuffed to go on a motorbike from the dock to the hotel. Kids stand in the front, the driver goes in the middle, and another adult behind. A bicycle pulling a cart took our luggage. There don't seem to be any tuk-tuks here. Maybe they have them in more touristy areas.

We are just having a night's stopover here before carrying on, but it looks like quite a nice town. You can see immediately the standard of living in Vietnam is much higher than Cambodia's. I had always assumed Cambodia was closer to Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia, but it is more like Mianmar and Laos. In fact it is just one position above Laos on the HDI (Human Development Index, a sort of revised GDP that takes into account factors like inequality).

Dollars are much less used here. Instead we have the insane dong. If we thought the riel was unmanageable (4000 to the dollar) the dong is going to test our arithmetic to the even further - 21000 to the dollar. After coming out the ATM we were millionaires.

Dinner was at a seafood restaurant filled mostly with locals. Nearly the same price as a foreigner restaurant in Cambodia but I think seafood is more expensive. I'm sure if we'd had soups and noodles or rice it would have been a third of the price. We have been looking at our money a bit more closely in Cambodia after blowing the budget slightly in Thailand (a combination of more flights, last-minute planning and going overboard on the food). After a bit of fiscal responsibility it looks like we have balanced the books again.

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