A Travellerspoint blog

February 2020

Siem Reap and Cruising the Mekong

Sa Dec

sunny 89 °F

After spending the night at anchor in the middle of the river, we boarded our boats and headed into the city of Sa Dec for our morning excursion.During the Republic of Vietnam, it was the site of Sa Đéc Base in 1966 and 1967, an American PBR (Patrol Boat, River) base during the Vietnam War. Later on, it became a Swift Boat base, as well. Before the nineteenth century, it was the capital of Dong Khau Dao, and it was known as one of the largest cities in the Mekong Delta.

Our first stop was Thuy Le or "Lovers House". This was made famous by the semi-autobiographical novel by Marguerite Duras, which was made into the movie L'Amant or The Lovers". We then headed into the market before heading back to the ship for our transit to the afternoon excursion,

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Posted by rpickett 21:17 Archived in Vietnam Tagged dec Comments (0)

Siem Reap and Cruising the Mekong

Tan Chau

sunny 90 °F

Today we experienced the first town in Vietnam - totally different from Cambodia, only a few kilometers away. Our town was Tan Chau, a small delta town untouched by tourism. It is famous for Tân Châu silk with the famous product Lãnh Mỹ A, whose black color comes from the Diospyros mollis's fruit. Châu was formed in 1757. We tendered in from the ship, and boarded rickshaws for the 15 minute ride to the silk factory.

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We then reboarded our rickshaws and took another 15 minute ride to a rattan mat factory. The mats are the mattress of choice for Delta villages.

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It was then back into the boat for the 20 minute ride to the small farming village of Evergreen Island. During the rainy season this island is usually underwater and everyone has a boat to get to the markets. While on the island a local family invited us into their house...one of the greatest honors you can pay a family in the Delta culture. After walking through the village, it was back on the boat and back to the ship. This afternoon is cruising to our next town for tomorrow's morning excursion.

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Posted by rpickett 01:19 Archived in Vietnam Tagged tan chau Comments (0)

Siem Reap and Cruising the Mekong

Phnom Penh to the Vietnam border

sunny 87 °F

Today was a much needed break day. We left Phnom Penh at about 0900 and cruised down the Mekong arriving at the Vietnam boarder at about 1700. During the trip, there was a Vietnamese Tea demonstration and a cooking demonstration by our Executive Chef. Once we arrived, we debarked the Cambodian pilot and the Vietnamese health officials came on board to measure everyone's temperature to insure no one with a virus would enter the country. It was a comfortable, relaxing day! Surprisingly there was 4G cell phone coverage the entire trip!

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Posted by rpickett 00:51 Archived in Cambodia Tagged vietnam to cruising Comments (0)

Siem Reap and Cruising the Mekong

Phnom Penh

sunny 95 °F

After the sobering reminder of man's inhumanity to man, we did our afternoon excursion to the Cambodian Royal Palace. The King was in residence, but did not invite us to tea. The palace is home to the Silver Pagoda - one of the most amazing Pagoda's in the world. No photography was allowed inside.

The Palace is a complex of buildings which serves as the royal residence of the king of Cambodia. Its full name in the Khmer language is Preah Barum Reachea Veang Chaktomuk Serei Mongkol. The Kings of Cambodia have occupied it since it was built in the 1860s, with a period of absence when the country came into turmoil during and after the reign of the Khmer Rouge. The palace was constructed between 1866 and 1870, after King Norodom relocated the royal capital from Oudong to Phnom Penh. It was built atop an old citadel called Banteay Kev. It faces approximately East and is situated at the Western bank of the cross division of the Tonle Sap River and the Mekong River called Chaktomuk (an allusion to Brahma).

The Silver Pagoda (vihara) houses many national treasures including many gold and jeweled Buddha statues. The most significant are a small green crystal Buddha (the "Emerald Buddha" of Cambodia), and a life-sized gold Maitreya Buddha commissioned by King Sisowath, weighing 90 kg and dressed in royal regalia and set with 9584 diamonds, the largest of which weighing 25 carats, created in the palace workshops during 1906 and 1907. During King Norodom Sihanouk's pre-Khmer Rouge reign, the Silver Pagoda was inlaid with more than 5,000 silver tiles and some of its outer facade was remodeled with Italian marble.

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Posted by rpickett 00:21 Archived in Cambodia Tagged phnom penh Comments (0)

Siem Reap and Cruising the Mekong

Phnom Penh

sunny 90 °F

This morning was spent coming to grips with the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot by visiting the Killiing Fields and the S21 Detention Center.

The Killing Fields are a number of sites in Cambodia where collectively more than a million people were killed and buried by the Khmer Rouge regime (the Communist Party of Kampuchea) during its rule of the country from 1975 to 1979, immediately after the end of the Cambodian Civil War (1970–1975). The mass killings are widely regarded as part of a broad state-sponsored genocide (the Cambodian genocide).

Analysis of 20,000 mass grave sites by the DC-Cam Mapping Program and Yale University indicates at least 1,386,734 victims of execution. Estimates of the total deaths resulting from Khmer Rouge policies, including death from disease and starvation, range from 1.7 to 2.5 million out of a 1975 population of roughly 8 million. In 1979, Vietnam invaded Democratic Kampuchea and toppled the Khmer Rouge regime; viewed as ending the genocide. The Khmer Rouge regime arrested and eventually executed almost everyone suspected of connections with the former government or with foreign governments, as well as professionals and intellectuals. Ethnic Vietnamese, ethnic Thai, ethnic Chinese, ethnic Cham, Cambodian Christians, and the Buddhist monkhood were the demographic targets of persecution. As a result, Pol Pot has been described as "a genocidal tyrant."

Our guide's grandfather, a two star general, and two great uncles were executed. His father, a school teacher, avoided execution by stating that he was a hair cutter despite many attempts by the regime to have him admit otherwise. He survived by being forced to cut 10 mens' hair identically.

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We then traveled to the S21 Detention Center. While there we were able to meet one of the two remaining survivors of that Detention Center'

The site is a former secondary school which was used as Security Prison 21 (S-21) by the Khmer Rouge regime from its rise to power in 1975 to its fall in 1979. From 1976 to 1979, an estimated 20,000 people were imprisoned at Tuol Sleng (the real number is unknown). Tuol Sleng means "Hill of the Poisonous Trees" or "Strychnine Hill". Tuol Sleng was just one of at least 150 torture and execution centers established by the Khmer Rouge, though other sources put the figure at 196 prison centers. On July 26, 2010, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia convicted the chief of Tuol Sleng Prison, Kang Kek Iew, (alias Duch) for crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

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Posted by rpickett 23:48 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

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