A Travellerspoint blog


Siem Reap and Cruising the Mekong

Complete Photo Album

Click this link for the complete photo album of the trip. Cambodia Vietnam Photo Album

It was amazing. The people of Cambodia are exceptionally friendly and open to visitors to the west, and Southern Vietnam is a blend of communism and capitalism. One of the best trips I have been on.

Posted by rpickett 13:48 Archived in Vietnam Tagged photo album Comments (0)

Siem Reap and Cruising the Mekong

Ho Chi Min City (Saigon)

sunny 90 °F

I was off the ship by 0830 for the two hour drive to Saigon. I was supposed to fly home today, through Hong Kong, but changed to flights to tomorrow via Tokyo. With the extra day, I booked a hotel next to the airport and a four hour private tour of Saigon, which was well worth it. With you own car and driver, you can cover alot of ground quickly.

The first stop was Independence Palace. Independence Palace, also known as Reunification Palace, built on the site of the former Norodom Palace, is a landmark in Saigon. It was designed by architect Ngô Viết Thụ and was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was the site of the end of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975, when a North Vietnamese army tank crashed through its gates. The palace is only a tourist attraction now, but has been carefully maintained and preserved.


We then did a swing by of the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Post Office, The Rex Hotel, and a lacquer box factory. Officially Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception, it was established by French colonists who initially named it L'eglise de Saïgon, the cathedral was constructed between 1863 and 1880. The name Notre Dame Cathedral has been used since 1959. It has two bell towers, reaching a height of 58 meters (190 feet).
The Post Office building was constructed when Vietnam was part of French Indochina in the late 19th century. It counts with Gothic, Renaissance and French influences. It was constructed between 1886 and 1891 and is now a tourist attraction. The Rex Hotel was made famous during the Vietnam War when it was hosting the American military command's daily conference, derisively named Five O'Clock Follies by cynical journalists who found the optimism of the American officers misguided. Its rooftop bar was a well-known hangout spot for military officials and war correspondents.


The last stop was the somber, but well done War Remnants Museum. It does a good job at documenting the war in Vietnam, albeit with a current government perspective. For those of us who lived through that era, it brought back many emotions. Operated by the Vietnamese government, an earlier version of this museum opened on September 4, 1975, as the Exhibition House for US and Puppet Crimes. In 1990, the name was changed to Exhibition House for Crimes of War and Aggression dropping both "U.S." and "Puppet." In 1995, following the normalization of diplomatic relations with the United States and end of the US embargo a year before, the references to "war crimes" and "aggression" were dropped from the museum's title as well; it became the War Remnants Museum.


From there it was back to the hotel and an early morning wake-up for the trip home. All in all it was a fantastic trip.

Posted by rpickett 02:22 Archived in Vietnam Tagged saigon Comments (0)

Siem Reap and Cruising the Mekong

Cai Be

sunny 90 °F

This afternoon we cruised down the river during lunch and anchored next to the small village of Cai Be where we watched how they make popped rice candy, Vietnamese Snake Moonshine (we tried some without snake - tastes like 10 day old whiskey), learned how to make rice paper and then boarded the boat again the visit the historic Kiet House, circa 1838. Then back in the boat and back to the ship for the Captain's farewell cocktail party and dinner.


Posted by rpickett 20:35 Archived in Vietnam Tagged be cai Comments (0)

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,


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.


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.


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.


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

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