Camilla Gomes – The First Time in Vietnam and Cambodia

This was the first time I became a visitor in Vietnam and Cambodia. Cruising along the Mekong river by boat fulfilled my purpose of exploring that part of Asia.

Our first jumping-off point was the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh city. I believe Vietnam of today can not be discovered perfectly if you know nothing about its history. When you take step back to its past, you’ll realize and give more respect to the rough time it passed to become one of the most enchanting destinations in Asia. Besides, we spent time paying a visit to the Basilica and the main post office.

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We continued our journey by experiencing the taste of the street at night. It was an exciting adventure with Vespas. Among thousands of Vespa moving on streets, our Vespa drivers took us around Saigon on their fast-speed motorbikes, let us the real life of city when the sun went down and enjoy the delicious local food at local restaurants.

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Although Saigon was a wonderful tourist hub, I was more expected to join the RV Mekong Pandaw boat to take out the pins of the cover and contemplate the true beauty along the Mekong river area between Vietnam and Cambodia. Before heading to Cambodia, the ship took a cruise from Saigon to Mekong Delta for us to approach the life on the water of the local by visiting floating markets and villages.

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A Pandaw River Cruise Expidition is the best option to have an adventure in this mighty river. It is often considered as the luxury mark in the Southeast Asia. With this right choice, approaching the remote locations seems nothing to us. We can reach them with full of comfortable services such as accommodation, facilities and food. A variety of delicious food and fresh fruit are available for you to choose. You can have breakfast with local or western dishes. Lunch and dinner are severed with 3 main courses. 

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The Pandaw ship was a handmade product in brass and teak of craftsman. The design, materials along with colonial style decoration make the ship have it own beauty which suit with the amazing scenes along the river. Pandaw ships themselves gave us different experience from the big ship cruising on the sea. They are smaller but more comfortable with the informal and friendly atmosphere and there’s no rule for wearing clothes when you have dinner. 

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In comparison with other boats, Pandaw ships give tourist more chances to navigate the Mekong river in deeper level since these ships have ultra-shallow draft. Thanks to this big advantage, the faraway areas are possible to reach and the lives of river people are more genuine to you.

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Leaving Saigon, we cruised in 7 nights to travel to Angkor in Cambodia. During 7-day cruising on river from Vietnam to Cambodia, we gained some wonderful experience such as witnessing several picturesque landscape along the banks, getting close to the daily life in riverside villages, for example, floating villages on the way to Siem Reap, visiting stunning monasteries, gaining knowledge of weaving silk process and going around Phnom Penh by cyclo. 

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The excursions ashore play an important role on the Pandaw expedition. Thus when the ship stops, you can find relaxation by riding bikes which can be found on the board around this area.

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The Pandaw made me impressed partly due to its service. There’s something making me feel amazing, for example, your shoes will be cleaned and brought back to you by crew in a few minutes after you came back the ship from an excursion.Moreover, you will feel welcome thanks to these careful and friendly crew who give you warm smile, prepare the cold towel, a cold drink for you and a greeting “welcome home”. 

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The comfortable cabins with glass sliding door give you private space to relax, see the beautiful view of landscape as well as the life of the local. 

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Moreover, the space on the ship is very large for passengers to have a walk. It also meets the demand for entertaining and relaxing with cinema room, gym, spa and especially the sun deck where we can have cocktail and get the breath-taking view of sunset and starry nights. 
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We also did not miss the chance to discovering the capital city of Cambodia – Phnom Penh, where we a have an exciting day and night trip with its particular history and culture.

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This day stroke us a lot with the learning of the horrendous time when Cambodia under the rule of Khmer Rouge. It happened not too far from now, just 40 year ago but it was really touching and heartbreaking to hear the stories from people who passed through it, for example, from our tour guide.

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If that terrible time is difficult to accept, the country’s spirit, the warmth of people and especially the ancient Angkor temples make the country itself far outshine than ever. Angkor Wat does not let me down with its impressive structure, well preserved details and its mysterious history.

>> Read more: Jungle Atlantis - Who Built Angkor...and Why  

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However, what makes me surprised most is Ta Prohm – the most ruined temple in Ankor complex. It was amazing to see the combination of nature and man-made art. The Fig Tress grew upon the ancient temple, their big roots clung on the stones and the walls and their leaves created the shadow for this sanctuary. Moreover, flocks of parrots hovered over the trees give me the feeling as if I was an adventurer exploring a temple lost in the jungle. The big green trees and the ruin of temple really showed the stronger power of the nature. 

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Taking a cruise is absolutely right choice since we can experience the different taste of culture and life in both Vietnam and Cambodia as well as relax ourselves during the voyage without changing accommodation.

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