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Archive for November 27th, 2018

We left the comforts of Saigon for a cruise on the Mekong Delta … actually, we started on the upper end of the delta and made our way up to Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  We were up early on the last day as we transferred from our hotel to the shuttle bus location.   We found ourselves on a bus for 2 hours with about 20 other folks driving down to the Cai Be district to board our cruise ship, the RV Mekong Pandaw.

We quickly transferred to our boat and the fun began!  There were approximately 32 other people on the boat with us.  We cruised for five days and four nights … if I had to do it over again, I’d probably only stay on this boat for three nights.  The people were very nice, the food was excellent, and the accommodations were great.  However, there’s only so many Village People you can visit before you become saturated.  Since we had already visited villages along the way, I was already saturated before we were on the cruise.

There was a small gym on-board (really small) and below the waterline.  We were able to make use of it a couple of days (riding the exercise bike)!  However, Deb was able to be up early every day to do Yoga on deck and I was able to practice some Tai chi/Shaolin as well.

The first day we were just settling in — it was kind of funny … everything was very regimented, so you had briefings on everything you were doing; sometimes by more than one person.  It reminded me of being in the military again.  Haha.

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The second day, we were out early for a ride on a Sampan to see, you guessed it, a village!  The boat ride through the mangroves was cool.

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We walked through some people’s yards to get to our next mode of transportation — a horse drawn cart.  There were 2 people per cart, so we made sure we were in the first cart … no horsey odors for us!

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We stopped for a bathroom break, quick snack, and opportunity to shop.  The two pictures below are a local bee keeper’s hive … oh, and Deb did a snake dance!  In one of the other villages we were shown how they grafted trees and made Bonzai pots.  We topped this all off with some Snake Wine (they put cobras in the alcohol … yes, we both tried it and are still alive and kicking).  Our guide kept saying it was for “noodle stand-up” … then he would just chuckle.

Then we made our way over to a small pier to catch a canoe back to our boat.  All in all, an interesting day.

I did try to see some birds but no real luck.  They catch and eat them in Vietnam so the birds hightail it out of there!  And speaking of birds—that’s the next day’s journey.  We were up early and took our ship’s tender to shore (check out the interesting landing spot).

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We rode in a big van through small roads to Gao Giong bird sanctuary.  We only hit one kid’s bike and kind of nudged an old man — no harm, no foul!  Here’s where I thought I was going to strike it rich with the birds!! Nope.  I did see about 5 new birds here, but it was probably the most frustrating “birding outing” I’ve had.  We joined all 30 something folks in small 2-man canoes and were paddled through some canals to see the Asian Openbill stork nesting.  It was like rowing through a tunnel with an opening in the ceiling.  The birds would zip across without a chance to snap a quick photo.  I finally gave up and just enjoyed the beautiful scenery, company, and atmosphere.  The lady rowing our boat serenaded us with some lovely singing [welcome to the department of redundancy department].

We made it back to the boat for  lunch and then had another opportunity to visit the village people.  Deb and I opted out and just enjoyed quiet time on the boat.  We exercised and enjoyed the cool afternoon breeze on the boat.

On the fourth day, we skipped the next village people tour in the morning and stayed on board the whole day.  Supposedly we were to finish our visa processing that afternoon for Cambodia but we ended having to stay longer on the boat the next day due to the visa process happening that day.  It was all good … we enjoyed the weather, made several new friends, and just chilled out.   So many things to see as we journeyed along!

We eventually got off the boat, were met by our guide and made our way to Phnom Penh!  Woo hoo!  Here’s to the end of our cruise!

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Stumbling piper

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