Cruising with Sue Alexander
In April we travelled with Ama Waterways on their River Boat AmaDara cruising the Mekong River for 7 nights from Siem Reap to Saigon.
Although we had already booked, we watched “Cruising with Jane Macdonald” when she travelled onboard – to give us an idea of what to expect, but the experience far exceeded that described by the National Treasure. Spotlessly clean with dark wood air-conditioned interiors and ornate furnishings eluding to a serene atmosphere and luxuriously appointed cabins. There is a small but welcoming pool and plentiful seating areas outside for watching the life along the River. The food onboard was delicious and very varied from local delicacies to western offerings, you could always have a burger and chips if needed!! Guests were quite mixed with Americans, Canadians and Australians as well as a few Brits.
We started our holiday with a few days in Hanoi, one of the first things you learn is how to cross the road.” Don’t run, don’t stop, don’t panic JUST KEEP WALKING”. The traffic comes from all directions and is frantic, it doesn’t stop – just swerves around you! Its great fun.
This beautiful French influenced city is exciting and alive and the best way to experience the sights is by Cyclo ride, weaving your way through traffic or up on the pavement – you may want to keep your eyes closed!
We travelled to the iconic Halong Bay for an overnight cruise. the stunning Karsts are breathtaking however the Bay was slightly disappointing as there were a lot of boats and a lot of plastic in the water.
Our next stop was Siem Reap for the UNESCO World Heritage Temples of Angkor Wat. Getting up before dawn to see the sunrise was magical and a ‘must see’.
The Town is very accessible, has lots of wonderful places to eat out, a great way to explore is by rickshaw for a couple of dollars.
We boarded the Ship on the Tonle Sap River and sailed for 7 days through the Mekong Delta. We experienced life on the water at first hand, visiting floating villages with schools, shops and petrol stations.
Ashore we were taken to local craft factories, silk sweat shops and schools. Each day we visited towns and elaborate temples, historic houses and bustling markets selling everything from textiles, to fruit to live chickens and skinned filleted rat, also known as long tailed chicken!!
We experienced vendors selling their delicious snacks of deep-fried locusts, crickets, cockroaches and tarantulas, we firmly believe they will eat anything!!
The stop in Phnom Penh was sobering as we were taken to “The Killing Fields” to learn about the genocide that took place in living memory. Such atrocities are unimaginable and anyone who has visited will understand that significance of the Tree. I can’t write here what it symbolises other than to say I cried.
We disembarked in Ho Chi Minh City and spent a few days exploring this modern and vast metropolis in South Vietnam.
We were looked after exceptionally well by AmaWaterways, our abiding memory will be of happy smiling people, however this type of holiday is not for everyone. The weather is either hot or hotter, the days can be long and very emotional, but it is an experience I will never forget.