Farewell Vietnam

On our last day in Vietnam and on-board the Gecko Eyes boat, we visited the floating market at Can Tho and had a tour of a local noodle making factory.

I have run out of time to do this justice - hopefully a couple of photos will suffice!

Cruising the Mekong

In order to get to our boat before lunch, we had another early start today. The Victoria hotel in Chau Doc is really lovely - and we enjoyed every moment here. The service was superb - apart from when the waitress gave my Pho to an Asian lady at breakfast. It is annoying that everyone assumes that Westerners want Western food. We don't and I never have!!! Anyway, I had to scoff the Pho as we were running a few minutes late for our pick up...

Our driver and guide took us on a long road trip to Cai Be - which is where we were due to meet our boat. Along the way, we took a car ferry across one of the strands of the Mekong and I questionned our guide about a little green bundle of stuff that ladies were selling on the ferry. He tells me it is Nem - fermented pork - and we would stop to try some shortly. At our morning loo stop, there was indeed a Nem factory where the owner has gotten relatively rich selling these small pork parcels for about $2.00 for 10 parcels (that was the tourist…

Onwards to the Mekong

Breakfast did nothing to improve our impression of the hotel. It was practically inedible. Enough said.
We only had a few hours this morning to allow for sightseeing, and had pre-selected the royal palace and the genocide museum as things we'd like to see while we are here. The royal palace was first, and we chose the guided option. Although the buildings and the grounds are immaculate, the exhibits in various parts of the palace were not. There were several places where various pieces were on display and it looked like the inside of the display cabinet hadn’t seen a duster in years. Our guide talked about the current king, a bachelor and devout buddhist, and of course gave us a brief run down of the history of the palace. Luckily, when the Khmer Rouge were in power, the palace was left untouched. So, all of the historical artefacts dating back to the palace inception in 1886 have all survived. However, due to an apparent lack of funding, restoration activities are only partiall…

Around Siem Reap and on to Phnom Penh

As I mentioned yesterday, there isn’t a lot to see in Siem Reap aside from the temples. We had a well deserved sleep in today and wandered out for some breakfast. Avoiding western food, we again tried local fare. A rice dish (Hai Nam rice) with chicken pieces and some broth might sound like a dinner meal, but here it is common to have these sorts of dishes for breakfast. It was absolutely delicious – but I’m not sure I could eat like this for breakfast long term.
After scratching around for places to visit this morning before our flight to Phnom Penh, we set off for a local buddhist temple (Wat Preah Prohm Rath). The gardens in this place were immaculate – and there were plenty of sculptures and buildings to look at – all just a hop, skip and a jump from pub street. Across the river, we stopped for iced coffee and frappes (Sandra – you would have loved these ones – the best we have had on the trip so far). Next door was a local market, featuring crafts made by handicapped local peop…

Temple Day

It was worth the early start this morning to get a good position for the sunrise over Angkor Wat. Our guide turned up on time, fast-tracked us through the ticket queue and had us well positioned for the sunrise. The whole process was a bit interesting – in that you had to go to a completely separate ticket place (quite a few miles down the road), queue up, get photographed, hand over cash, and then get driven to the site itself.
The sunrise this morning was OK - but nothing spectacular. We managed several good shots where the camera was a bit generous to the average sunrise. A bite with the locals was next in order – as by this stage we had been up for a couple of hours and we were famished. Whilst we ate, other large tour groups went off to eat breakfast and see other sites – so we enjoyed a relatively free walk around the main part of Angkor Wat.
Our guide Kim was quite masterful at manoeuvring us around crowds, taking us to the best photo spots and providing his inside knowledge o…

Hoi An

For our last day in Hoi An, we thought we’d head to the beach. Anh Bang is about 6km away from Hoi An and is very picturesque. For the second day in a row, the planned hotel shuttle didn’t materialise and we got a free taxi to our destination. The sea was crystal clear and reasonably cooling and had really good buoyancy. I’d have to rate this one of the best sea swims I’ve had in ages. As we were so early, things were only just getting going at the beach and there weren’t that many people around. It was very pleasant and we could have stayed here much longer – but we had a few more activities to squeeze in.
We had a couple of tickets left on our Hoi An tourist card, so elected to go over the 18th century Japanese bridge. We didn’t get a ticket collected, so that meant two more things to squeeze in to get the most out of our tourist ticket. We picked an assembly hall (mainly so that we visited one of each type of attraction in Hoi An) to start with. It was a bit of a waste of time to …

Two extremes

We arrived in Hoi An late last night – after a cancelled flight, and further flight delays. Frustrating, but completely beyond our control.
Today was stinking hot. The hottest it has been so far. Combined with blue skies for the first time in ages – it was simply a matter of trying to stay out of the sun as much as possible whilst catching as many sights as possible. Despite the heat, we started with an egg coffee – these things are getting quite addictive… wonder if I could convince Wellington baristas to give it a try???
Hoi An is very clean, there is almost no sign of rubbish, the streets are pristine, and there is concrete in places that there would be dirt and holes in the ground in other cities and towns. It is almost too clean – and seems a bit devoid of personality. Nevertheless it is a very pretty place. There has been a lot of effort in restoring old buildings – and obvious UNESCO funding.
There are a series of 22 tourist attractions that you have to buy a ticket for – but…