Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.
|Friday, November 25, 2022 07:48:35|
Vietnam, Cambodia, Bali 2022: 2 - The Mekong River
Thursday, November 17, 2022
The hotel breakfast this morning was a treat. I really enjoy the Asian breakfast buffets where dozens of different Asian and Western dishes are on offer. We both had a huge breakfast of largely oriental selections. Our instructions were to check out of the hotel and proceed a couple of blocks to the Hyatt Park Hotel for a pretrip briefing. Marilynn checked her cell phone when we got there to find a message we were to be picked up at the Sheraton. We waited until and our transportation came back to the Hyatt to pick us up.
On the way to the boat Eric, who was in charge of the trip, said that there were only 8 of us on this trip, and that with 29 crew it would be like having a private yacht. Our shipmates were a Spanish couple who lived in Germany, a Canadian couple from Manitoba, and a mother and daughter from New Zealand.
The ship Mekong Princess was beautiful, lavishly furnished in the manner of deluxe ships in the days of the British Empire. Our suite was amazing, with a large well furnish living area, a king sized four poster bed, and a private open air balcony right on the front of the ship, with two comfortable sun lounges. The ship is two levels high - we are in the front of the second level. There are three large windows with a glass door in the centre - two in the side of the ship and one onto our balcony in front.
The first night each couple was seated at a different table, but we unanimously agreed to have them change the arrangement to one table for 8. The 8 of us got along very well, adding to the pleasure of the trip. After a four course dinner we headed for bed.
Friday, November 18, 2022
Marilynn's phone went off at 3 AM and as I couldn't get back to sleep I returned emails. We have wifi in the suite. After a 6 AM breakfast we were picked up by two small boats, 4 of us to a boat, for a paddle through some very narrow waterways, about 2 meters wide. It also involved a long walk through farm country, past the homes of the farmers. The walk just about did me in, but after half way there was no going back, this was the only trail in the area. Back at the ship a massage before lunch got me going again.
It was an easy afternoon, followed by a walk around a small town where we docked. A Chinese dragon dance had been laid on for us at a temple, then Marilynn & I walked around the night street market.
Saturday, November 19, 2022
This morning we were rowed ashore to walk through rice fields and visited a rice noodle factory where we were able to participate in the process of turning rice into rice noodles. After lunch aboard we went ashore again for a tour of a flower growing island. Our transport was in a four person cart pulled by a motorcycle.
We have been having a massage every day, and it has been helping a great deal in my mobility. My legs are becoming stronger and the infection in my right leg seems to be receding.
Sunday, November 20, 2022
In the morning we were rowed ashore to climb onto motorcycle pulled carts to tour of the mango island. We were also shown how sampans were made, including how they bend the wood to the curvature needed by heating it over the flames of an open fire. The villages and houses were more prosperous looking here.
We chose not to go sampan riding in the afternoon, taking the time to catch up on emails, business in Costa Rica and being lazy.
Monday, November 21, 2022
Today we crossed into Cambodia. What a difference on the river!! All the way from Saigon the river was full of various freight boats, large cargo ships, and low in the water boats carrying cargoes of sand or gravel, containers, and about everything else. As soon as we neared the Cambodian border the river was almost deserted.
A couple of people from the immigration department were on board with our passports. They did a cursory glance at each of us to ensure the picture was of the right person and that's all there was to it. When I saw the skyline of Phnom Penh I was amazed. When we were here in 1998 there was little skyline, but w tall buildings dominated, and the river traffic increased.
A tour of the city was arranged using cyclos. These are vehicles with a bicycle seat for the person peddling, and in front two wheels with a seat between them. The foot rest on the ground went up to give the passenger a comfortable reclining position when in motion. It was quite an experience as we zig zagged in and out of the crazy traffic.
The king and the prime minister have palaces in the city covering a large area. The king's palace is called Wat Phnom, and we also walked through the national museum. The city is amazingly clean, with no litter on the sides of the roads. There are a number of tall bank buildings which contrasted with the beautiful colonial era buildings built when it was a French colony.
Tuesday, November 22, 2022
It was an easy morning with nothing planned. My massage lady left the ship, so the one who had been doing Marilynn did me. She was amazing. The massages are helping the infection in my leg and my mobility a great deal.
After a valiant but futile battle to stay on the ship to avoid the shopping tour we boarded a bus that took us to a tourist shopping area where English was spoken. Our base was a clothing store with a lounge upstairs where alcoholic beverages were available. In spite of my legs I managed the long stairway to the lounge and was soon comfortably seated with a beer in my hand to await Marilynn and the other shoppers who headed off on foot. When they returned there were complementary drinks all around before bussing back to the ship.
Wednesday, November 23, 2022
Sadly, today was our last massage. Marilynn joined a walking tour around Ankor Ban Village. I could see from the ship that it started with a very steep slope from the water to a flight of stairs, so I stayed on board ship to catch up on the computer. The others visited a school, which was apparently very interesting, and some Buddhist monks demonstrated a water blessing ceremony Both Ben from Spain and Marilynn walked out when the monks were required to pose for photos with our group, and a 94 old woman who ate beetle number was required to show her stained teeth, eat some leaves and spit. It was apparently pretty disgusting.
A final briefing was held before dinner, including docking procedures and so on.
Today was the world cup game between Spain and Costa Rica, and Ben and I had been going back on forth joking at dinner. Even though the game would not start until 11 PM Cambodia time we decided we would stay up and see whose team really was the better. Erik, the manager of everything to do with the passengers, arranged for the game to be shown on a large pull down screen in the lounge.
After dinner we had a rest. I had a Costa Rican national team shirt and Marilynn had a scarf with Costa Rica on it, so we headed for the lounge to support the home team. We were surprised to see all our fellow passengers there and some of the crew. Sadly, Costa Rica let us down badly. It was 6 goals to zero for Spain by half time and everyone gave it up except Ben, his wife Ines, Marilynn and I, At the end it was an embarrassing 7 nothing disaster with Costa Rice failing to score a single goal. The Spanish team had played brilliantly. It didn't leave me much to argue about!!
Thursday, November 24, 2022
We packed up after breakfast, gave a fond farewell to the crew who had done a great job to ensure the trip was a success and boarded a bus for the four hour drive to Siem Reap. There were bathroom and snack stops after the first and second hour, then straight through. We were driving parallel to an old road, of which parts could be seen, that was constructed in the 12th century. Bridges built from stone at that time are still in use.
Everyone was dropped at their hotel, we were the only ones staying at the very nice Shinta Mani Ankor Hotel After drinks outside near the pool, and delicious food, we retired to our room for a sleep.
Friday, November 25, 2022
We started the day with a good breakfast provided by the hotel, and a hotel driver took us to the airport where we eventually found the right place to check in. Security pissed me off to no end by confiscating a tiny pair of scissors that I purchased in Halifax in 2010. They have been with me on all my travels since then, and through many security checks around the world, with no problem. Had I known it would have been easy to conceal them as nothing else was checked thoroughly. At any rate, it put me in a seriously bad mood!! I used them frequently, as a side effect of my cancer pills is crumbling finger nails that need to be cut back or they catch on everything.
The lounge in the airport was very nice, and everyone there very helpful. There are no jetways, so I was wheeled to the stairs to the plane and kind, helpful employees carried my backpack and suitcase onto the plane and stored them in the overhead bins. They also took Marilynn's case on for her.
I had heard Singapore Airlines were very good, but nothing prepared us for the reality. On a Boeing 737-8 the business class seats were in their own cubical with flat beds and all the other trimmings that come with larger aircraft. Marilynn had the area for the whole width of her side of the aisle, and I had mine on the other side. On the 1hr 55m flight a choice of hot 3 course lunches were offered, plus a drink menu with a very large selection of premium wines and liquors, plus 16 different types of tea. We were absolutely amazed, and certainly looking forward to our connecting flight to Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.
Meantime we waited for a little under two hours in the super well set up and equipped lounge - a large selection of hot and cold foods plus drinks were available The airport certainly earns all its awards. The only thing we objected to was the carpeted floors. While very pretty, they are a bugger to pull suitcases over and the poor lady pushing my wheelchair really earned her tip.