Saturday, January 20, 2018
-Vietnamese seem to have a French-influenced love for bread
-The bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap had WiFi
-Water pressure in showers was almost too much
-So lucky to have made it healthily through all the exotic food, drinks and occasional insects
-Grateful the intense pollution at the end of the trip in the north was not as bad in other areas of the tour
-The fabulous lunch in Hanoi was at Duong Restaurant and Cooking School. Dinner was at Pizza 4P.
There was a morning shore excursion after Tai Chi on the sun deck, but many people opted to sleep in or simply relax on the ship. The previous night's entertainment of wine tasting and spring roll rolling kept spirits high well into the the night.
Disembarkation of Paradise Elegance took place at 10:30am. In route back to Hanoi, the tourists were treated to lunch at a gulf course.
We are happy to have opted for the pre and post trips offered in addition to the AmaWaterways Mekong River cruise: Saigon, Hanoi and the amazing Ha Long Bay.
Friday, January 19, 2018
The majestic views of Ha Long Bay, located in the Gulf of Tonkin, were not only stunning, they electrified the group as if energized by mystical vortexes. Dramatic limestone cliffs, islands and inlets were mesmerizing. Ha Long Bay is truly among the most beautiful places on Earth.
Thursday, January 18, 2018
Bill and I found an amazing Vietnamese restaurant for lunch. (*Update: Duong Restaurant and Cooking School.*) I had a rose martini, which was out of this world. Traditional Vietnamese pancakes and Pho were delicious. Black sticky rice with coconut cream was for dessert. Delicious.
We enjoyed another rickshaw ride through Hanoi touring the old quarter section of the city. We then walked around the city getting commentary from our tour guide. The afternoon ended with a water puppet show. Darling and magical.
Bill pick the dinner restaurant. It was close to our hotel and fabulous. A bottle wine, amazing Vietnamese style pizza (*Update: Pizza 4P*) and great people watching made for the perfect end to a busy day. We were just about the only Westerners in the restaurant. I ♥️ Hanoi!
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
We opted to stay at the hotel for spa therapy and pool time rather than the two hour bus tour Tuesday afternoon. The hotel is too nice for just sleeping. And the flowers!
Monday, January 15, 2018
The crew on the river vessel AmaDara warmly bid farewell as we boarded buses for a five-hour trip to Siem Reap.
A roadside pitstop was teeming with beautiful produce, dried fruits and sautéed bugs. Young boys were walking around with live tarantulas to entertain the tourists. It was a bustling market scene.
With Kleenex in hand, I reached the "happy room," which is an endearing reference for the toilet in Cambodia. An enterprising woman was selling toilet paper at the door. Brilliant! I could have used her services earlier in the week when I discovered, rather unpleasantly, that public toilets do not have toilet paper, hand dryers or paper towels. You get just the necessities, a trough-like bowl on the floor with a manual flush.
There were nearly 100 people on the AmaDara and I'd venture to say that a least half had been fighting a cold, flu or intestinal bug during the week on the river. I've been lucky, but not without occasional queasiness. Ginger tea has become my new miracle drug, offering instant medicinal relief when I feel punky. Incessant hand-washing and sanitizers have become routine throughout the day.
Cambodia is the approximate size of Oklahoma. Motorbikes are plentiful, often doubling as the family's utility vehicle. It is not unusual to see a family of four, with a young one sleeping in mom's arms, on a scooter. There are no beggars; no pesky people, just smiling curiosity-seekers like us. In fact, I often feel like a celebrity with people waving, smiling and children shouting, "Hello!" Perhaps, as we explore the popular tourist sites around Siem Reap we will notice a change in cultural behaviors.
Sunday, January 14, 2018
Saturday, January 13, 2018
Another market, another test of the stomach...the smell of sautéed, crispy cock roaches and crickets, duck embryos steaming, flies on meat, sun dried fish for sale. Nom nom.
A very large floating river community reminded me of a quaint New England village. But what about the waste, I wondered?
Back on the AmaDara, we heard amplified religious chanting and music all along the river. It was another lazy afternoon cruising, sightseeing and learning stuff.
Friday, January 12, 2018
With a northwest heading, the cruising AmaDara provided much need recouping time for Bill. The sun deck was the perfect spot to take in the scenery all afternoon.
Will and Solo are managing without us in FL despite a work-related foot injury for Will and another coughing episode for poor old Solo.