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Road Tripping in Cambodia

Posted by on 21. November 2012

Being in Two Places in One Time – Cambodia – Vietnam Border

Board Meeting

I’ve been a fixture in board meetings since 2005 and I never liked being the center of attention when it comes to discussion of the Financials.  While it comes with my fair share of travel at times, it becomes too much of a routine.  Even the taxing financials becomes now a work of habit and just a presentation waiting to be finished.  I was hoping that this one gets moved back to Manila since the ASEAN summit would be held in Phnom Penh and the flight bookings is near to impossible.  The solution was to take a  flight to Vietnam and then travel mostly via land trips.  Even the preparations for the materials was last minute but being able to experience far worst preparations before so this should be fine.

Bavet, Cambodia

I came here to serve beers.

We arrived in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam early afternoon on November 15 and headed to the Border of Cambodia and Vietnam which is Bavet, Cambodia.  From the Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, it took us two hours to reach the border.  Our assigned driver didn’t know how to speak English so all the preconceived plan to buy Starbucks Mug in Vietnam was off my to do list.  Upon  arriving at the border, we were assisted by the plant personnel in the immigration process so it was a bit faster and then we were in Bavet, Cambodia.  Entering Bavet, you’ll immediately see several Casinos and we were stationed in a simple and affordable hotel with WiFi and breakfast.  We then had our dinner at the Ecozone project we would be seeing and part of the surprise was that the different Cambodia employees presented a song number and we then took turns with the singing part while enjoying and cold dose of Angkor beer.  For comparison purposes, Angkor beer is not as bitter as our beer in Philippines and have lesser alcohol content.  Next day, we had a tour of the facility and had to watch a presentation about the facility.  We were then off to our next stop in the Afternoon.

Among the food we ate was a Shrimp the size of a Lobster

Kampong Cham, Cambodia

Overlooking the Mekong River from our Hotel

It took us about 4 hours from Bavet to Kampong Cham passing through some rough stretch and one thing I’ve noticed there’s so much infrastructure and road improvements going on.  Cambodia is catching up when it comes to development real fast.  We arrived in Kampong Cham at early evening and we’re book in a hotel who’s view is the Mekong River. The room was very spacious though WiFi signal is quite weak.  We then proceeded to dinner at our Kampong Cham Factory.  We were then treated to some traditional dances presented by the different departments in the plant.  We were even taught the steps of their native dance and was asked to dance their native dance too.  Another Chinese tradition which was toasting of beer with each other.  This one was thought to me years back that you shouldn’t drink on your own.  If you want to drink you had to toast to someone on the table until you have toasted to all participants.  No wonder nights like this usually end in hangover the next day.  The different department also made their toast.  Thankfully, not all the 4,000 employees made an individual toast.  The next day, we had our board meeting which was more strategic than routine.  We had a plant tour to see the rest of the facility and by noon, we were on our way to Phnom Penh for a meeting with a security company.

Not everyone knows we have this landscape in our Kampong Cham Plant

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Phnom Penh

It took us another 2 hours before reaching Phnom Penh, which is the Capital City of Cambodia to meet a securities company there.  Interestingly, only one Company has been listed in the Cambodia Stock Exchange though there several in the pipeline aiming for an Initial Public Offering.  The meeting and presentation lasted just an hour and we were given a choice to either have dinner in Phnom Penh or go back to Bavet earlier.  We took the choice of going to Bavet earlier as it’s already about 6 pm and delaying our trip would have us arrived early dawn in Bavet.  So we took our trip back and the road was really traffic.  There you go even in Cambodia, there’s always traffic.  Unfortunately, there’s still no Starbucks in Cambodia so I’ll have to wait out even longer for that elusive Starbucks Cambodia Mug.  Surprisingly, there’s already a Coffee Bean in Cambodia so Starbucks may not be that far behind.

Back to Bavet

Sunset at the Border

It took us more than 3 hours going back to Bavet which included a short stretch where we had to be lifted by a barge.  Being lifted by a barge while in a car was a first.   We arrived past 9 pm and we had dinner at the Ecozone. We were then back to our hotel and by 6 am we were off to Vietnam to catch our 10 am flight in the Philippines.  The good part about leaving at 6 am was we were able to catch the sun rise at the border and it is always nice to see the sun on the rise. In the 2 hours trip from Cambodia to the Airport, we met swarms of motorcycles, which is one of their more common means of transformation.  No flight delays and with that ends 4 straight days on the road. Now I know how a Rock Star feels on a road trip.

At the Cambodia Immigration – Glad to be on my way home

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