Cruising along the might Mekong River is always an unforgettable experience because of the culture and natural wonder that it offers.
I heard a faint whisper just before I boarded the La Marguerite Cruise it was the voice of a little boy. I had promised him that I would buy his scarf, but my dollars are just enough to get back. I looked at him solemnly, and said a silent goodbye as the boat drifted slowly down the Tonle Sap River. As the boat drifted farther, I can only see the boy’s shadow receding in the horizon.
The disappointing incident took place after we visited a silk weaving village in Chong Koh. The old looms, had taken their place back into the light of day after remaining hidden for years during Pol Pot’s dark regime. The small village had an old world charm wherein little girls roamed the streets selling a traditional scarf called karma. The little girls led us into various parts of the village, using the little English they knew.
Upon spotting an Italian tourist giving away sweets, the little girls bolted in various directions. Then came the little boy, with his innocent eyes and curious questions. He asked about England and its different ways, did Englanders have blue eyes?
I learned an important lesson from this curious little boy, bring a lot of dollars so that you’ll have more than enough to give to the community, support children, and buy the handicrafts to help the village. After several decades of chaos, tourism is one bright spot for this suddenly emerging country.
Mekong cruises start its journey from Siem Reap. After the long journey through the 100 mile Tonle Sap Lake by motor boat, we set sail for another 560 miles along the mighty Mekong River to Vietnam in seven days.
Before boarding the La Marguerite, we spent hours getting lost and immersing ourselves in the ancient culture and ruins of the Khmer empire. The knowledgeable tour guide from Mekong Tours displayed his knowledge about his own culture and the history of Angkor during its heyday. We visited the venerable temple of Angkor Wat, the huge city of Angkor Thom, and the romantic jungle ruins of Ta Prohm during the tour provided by Mekong Delta Tours
Spas and massage shops are in plentiful supply in Vientiane, offering something for every budget. But for something more memorable, take the three kilometre trip out of the centre to Wat Sok Pa Luang, and down a path to the side of the temple you will find a rickety old jungle house offering Lao massage and traditional herbal spa; a hand-painted sign points the way.
Laos travel Spas and massage shops are in plentiful supply in Vientiane, offering something for every budget. But for something more memorable, take the three kilometre trip out of the centre to Wat Sok Pa Luang, and down a path to the side of the temple you will find a rickety old jungle house offering Lao massage and traditional herbal spa; a hand-painted sign points the way.
On the 13th day of the first lunar month, visitors come to Lim Hill in Bac Ninh province to watch performances of “quan ho”, traditional songs performed by both men and women from boats and from the Lim Pagoda,Bac Ninh, Vietnam. The songs cover numerous topics, such as greetings, exchanging love sentiments, and even trivial objects like village gates.
Landscapes of adventure
Laos is a land of rugged mountains, hidden valleys, waterfalls and cascading rivers. The forested mountains are sanctuaries of hill tribes and Indochina’s rarest flora and fauna. North of the capital Vientiane, Mt. Phou Bia is the dew drenched sentinel of the eastern border with Vietnam while the Mekong River marks the western boundary with Thailand. With China and Myanmar to the north and Cambodia to the south, Laos is the single landlocked country of the region.
The Perfume Pagoda is Vietnam’s most famous Buddhist pilgrimage site, welcoming hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who arrive at the sacred cave to pray for a happy and prosperous year ahead. This stream of pilgrims reaches its peak at the Perfume Pagoda Festival – devotees travel through a picturesque gauntlet to the sacred caves, first boarding boats that pass a landscape of rice paddies and limestone mountains, then going by foot past historical shrines and up hundreds of stone steps. Continue Reading →
Hoi An Old Town is located 30km south of Danang City, and 60 kms northeast of Tam Ky. Hoi An used to be an international trade center by sea on the eastwest area in the 16th and 17th centuries. It was the busiest trading port in Dang Trong region of Vietnam under the reign of Nguyen as merchants from Japan, China, Portugal, Spain, and Holland etc, often landed for exchanging, purchasing commodities. In the historical progress of establishment and development, Hoi An was known by foreign merchants as Faifo, Haisfo, Hoai pho. Based on archeological relics and architecture documents, Hoi An was not only a place of converge and exchanging of many cultures such as: Champa, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Japanese and Chinese, especially impacted most by Vietnamese and Chinese civilizations. Continue Reading →
Tet is the most important and popular holiday and festival in Vietnam which is around late January or early February, depends on each year. It is also an occasion for family reunions and forgetting about the troubles of the past year and hoping for a better upcoming year. This custom has become sacred and secular and, therefore, no matter where they are or whatever the circumstances, family members find ways to come back to meet their loved ones.
Vietnamese consider Tet is the national holiday that lasts for three days. However, in practice it can be longer and divided into three periods, before New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Eve, and the New Year. All of these phases consist of activities and customs are celebrated in Vietnam. Continue Reading →
The Airport Corporation of Vietnam has announced a plan to close Phu Bai International Airport (Thua Thien Hue Province) in March next year for runway maintenance. The reparation time may take up to 8 months; therefore, tourists who wish to travel to Hue city by air might have to use Da Nang International Airport instead, which is 90 km away.
With our first stay in Ho Chi Minh City coming to an end, a few group members took a walk to the Ben Thanh Market before our bus trip to Long Xuyen. The market reminded me of Canal Street for those familiar with New York City. As we walked through the various clothing booths, knock-off watch stands and shoe sellers, the workers yelled to the ladies of the group, calling them madam, hoping to sell them their goods.
Susan and Neil purchased some foreign fruits to snack-on during our five-hour bus trip to Long Xuyen. Evan, Brandon, Natalie and I branched-off from the group and made our way to the “wet market” section of the Ben Thahn. The wet-mart featured all the proteins Ben Thanh provided. As you can imagine, there were plenty of things that are not offered in your standard American supermarket. There were copious amounts of live fish, live crabs and both dried shrimp as well as live ones the size of baby lobsters.
From the island-studded seas of the north to the meandering waterways of the south, Vietnam is a country defined by the diversity of its land and the resilience and generosity of its people.
Halong Bay: Best for coast
Once upon a time, a friendly dragon lived in the heavens above Halong Bay. With invaders from the seas threatening Vietnam, the gods asked the dragon to create a natural barrier to protect its people. The dragon kindly obliged, performing a spectacular crash landing along the coast – digging up chunks of rock with its flailing tail and spitting out pearls – before grinding to a halt.