In May, Len and I spent two weeks enjoying the heat and humidity in Vietnam and Cambodia.
Vietnam is an interesting and diverse destination with bustling cities, natural beauty and delicious food.
We started in Hanoi, in the north, and enjoyed an overnight cruise amongst the limestone formations in Halong Bay before making our way south staying at Hoi An, a well-preserved Ancient Town, cut through with canals. The former port city’s melting-pot history is reflected in its architecture, a mix of eras and styles from wooden Chinese shophouses and temples to colorful French colonial buildings, ornate Vietnamese houses and the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge with its pagoda.
From there it was on to Ho Chi Min City (also known as Saigon) the economic hub of the country and famous for the pivotal role it played in the Vietnam War (or referred to as the American War by the locals). It’s also known for its French colonial landmarks and hectic traffic.
Almost every busy intersection is an entertaining place. We chose a cafe with a good view and watched the endless stream of motorbikes coming from all sides of the road. The traffic flows, rather like a wheeling flock of birds – and we were surprised that we didn’t see an accident.
The Mekong Delta was a day trip and is a vast maze of rivers, swamps and islands, home to floating markets, pagodas and villages surrounded by rice paddies. Boats are the main means of transportation.
Next destination was Siam Reap in Cambodia. This area is a developing tourism hub due to its proximity to the magnificent Angkor Temples. We travelled to Phnom Penh on a 6-hour bus ride which was a great opportunity to see the villages and countryside, where every bit of available land is farmed for food production. The more intrepid in our group tried the local delicacies of deep fried tarantulas, crickets, cockroaches and grasshoppers.
Cambodians are very friendly and welcoming, despite their recent tragic history, with 95% of the population practicing Buddhism.
We were certainly a world away from the office but were relieved to get back to the cooler weather!