map of vietnam and cambodia

5-Feb sun

Leaving Brisbane 23:35, so not much of the trip today

narrow houses in Hanoi

6-feb mon - Hanoi

Free breakfast and wifi in singapore airport
Arr Ha Noi
Many motor scooters
Homes are 3&4 storey affairs on tiny land blocks (40 sq m, really 1 room wide) because communist govt lets you lease a piece of land which is very tiny. I think bigger in the country, bt farm blocks allocated were still too small to usefully farm. You can own a house, and there are multi-generations in the house. Saigon tour guide had his 100yr old grandmother, his parents, wife and kids in his house.

Obama's restaurant

7 feb tue - Food tour with miss Moon

Food tour with miss Moon
Rice crepes made on street - pot of boiling water with silk net stretched over, rice mixture spread over thinly, covered, move over to second pot where same happening and peel off perfect fine rice crepe, where other lady rolls the spring roll mix into the fresh crepe. Repeat
Weasel coffee where beans have been through digestive tract of weasel (gold)
Cafe that has been run by 4 generations over 80 years
Can buy special padded bum enhancers, particularly for your wedding day. You wouldn't want to be a flat screen TV (no bust or bum)
People carry goods on sticks over shoulder with trays hung from stick
Huge loads carried on motor bikes and scooters, incl gas cylinders
Cross road by just walking slowly across and not stopping. Traffic moves around you, though usually moving slowly.
Local beer is brewed on the day, is cheap and is only 2%
A restaurant serving dog was pointed out.
Many families live above their shop.
Egg coffee was egg yolk (chicken) whisked with apricot brandy then coffee is poured through it and the egg froth floats on the top

Water bottles in yhe sofitel legend were dressed in cloaks like a vampire

mausoleum of Ho Chi

8-feb wed - mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh

Visit mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh where he lies in state. Huge security. You file past in a line of 2 wide. Huge square in front, soviet style, lots of guards.
His stilt house
Potted plant gate on rollers

Confuscian temple
Cyclo tour
Girls riding side saddle on motor bikes

D walking tour.
The opera where rehearsing story of vietnamese life in a village, that seemed to be themed around huge bamboo poles
Then military museum
Viet seems to mean people who wield axe, or a bird or both.
One park had motorized cars driven by toddlers
Old Hanoi city was walled, or at least the citadel but must hVe been 1km square at least

K did water puppet house tour

Hotel rediscovered an air raid shelter under hotel, with a couple of entrances an multiple rooms. Recording of Joan Baez made there during a raid in there
Dinner in local restaurant that flambed in cointreau


Ha Long bay

9-feb thu - to ha long bay

Rice paddies
Cemeteries amongst the rice paddies
Duck farms
Houses build in the rice paddies and flooded right up to the boundary
Big coal powered electricity generator, also gas, and perhaps soon nuclear
Welcome monument for tourists, but locals why spend on that useless thing when our kids have to get to school by flying fox across the river (by themselves)
At ha long, there are many unfinished apartment buildings, probably since gfc

2000 islands in halong bay
500? Passenger ships, though smaller operators struggling since downturn
Unemployment in vietnam is 15-20% at moment
Home loans are at 7%, savings accounts 5%

Lady rowed up to boat selling water, soft drinks, chocolates, wine, beer, almond biscuits, pringles, carved things (tortise?)

Afternoon at dark and light caves, but too low light to enter. M&R kayaked
We on hand rowed boats.

Large ships, coal, oil, gravel (from dredging) used in cement making

Halong bay in early

Feb 10 fri - halong bay

Walk through limestone caves, 3 chambers
Bridge and engine room tour (2x500hp motors plus 2x250hp generators, all yanmar)
Kerry does village tour

rice paddy by highway

Feb 11 sat - fly to ho chi minh city


Long Tan memorial

Feb 12 sun - Nui Dat & Long Tan memorial

5 on a motor bike
Through new section 2 on other side of river where huge apartment blocks and the new rich live
To Nui Dat base remains. SAS control centre hill was quarried. Nothing much remains except the airstrip, which is now a road
Long Tan memorial is in a rubber plantation, though trees were old and bigger in war than they are now which is pre-milking age 7yrs-20yrs
APT clean the memorial after every visit

All traffic lights have countdown timers for every color

reunification palace

Feb 13 - mon - Saigon city tour

City tour by bus (m&r did by motorbike)
Reunification palace
Building was stormed by tank at end of war. 2 tanks are at front gate
1960s building for running govt, so big impressive meeting rooms and presidential offices and dining rooms.
Large bunker underground for running a war, big on communications - radio, telex. There was a tty asr33, but no sign of a computer
Building is a beautiful minimalist design, with very clever with windows to catch the breeze.

Notre. Dame cathedral made with materials imported from france, and never bombed.
Many brides being photographed, but apparently this is 2-3 months before the wedding.
Also the post office, with wooden phone booths inside like in 1960s films. International clocks overhead

Bus to Mekong
Life jacket drill

snake wine

Feb 14 - tue - local factories and markets

Local boat to Cai Be
Passed overloaded dredges with water over the deck, deckhands walking on deck under water. Later that still seemed to be in the channel stopped with water seeping into the gravel, perhaps sinking?
Cathedral built 1920s?
Factory making popped rice and coating with durian, ginger, peanut, coconut. Sweets made of boiled coconut milk. Sweets were cut by hand then wrapped by hand. Women earning $1-2/hr for pretty tedious work
Snake oil whisky, wish I'd known it was real snake before I drank it and subsequently saw the snakes
Saw rice paper and rice chips being made, and dried in the sun
Passed under the Australia bridge ($66m from Australia and $34m from Vietnam). Crosses the main passage of river, and to me, is bigger than the gateway bridges. $100m seems cheap to me.

Afternoon, Sa Dec, through local market.
Lots of fruit and veg
Raw meat unrefrigerated
Seafood, much still alive. Buddist fisherman can't kill the fish
Frogs and rats

drying chilli

Feb 15 wed - factories and village

Tan Chau
Last morning in Vietnam was a rickshaw ride to a silk weaving factory, followed by a rattan mat weaving factory, then across to one of the islands in the river. This used to flood every year, but hydro schemes upstream have stopped that. While the flooding seems to be a pest, they were mostly set up for it, building their houses on concrete or wooden stilts 3m off the ground, but now their fields are no longer refreshed by centimeters of fertile mud each year. And they are now short of water, though I'd have thought they could pump it from the adjacent river.

About to leave Vietnam for Cambodia. Been floating on the border for 3hrs now. 20170215

Phnom Penh

Feb 16 thu - Phnom Penh

Moored in passenger terminal in city, Docked in city this morning in a branch off the mekong.
City tour, including being stopped by the parliament while the prime minister and king were driven through the vacated road.
A lot of very large expensive 4wd, but not many of the tiny hyundai i10s. Some larger sedans, mostly toyota camry.
Went through a couple of markets.
All seems wealthy, but told it is poorer country than vietnam. Something isn't quite right.

Morning tuk tuk ride around inner city. They aren't the custom devices like india or thailand, but more like a (solid) enclosed rickshaw drawn by a normal motor bike. More similar to the bicycle drawn ones the other day in Vietnam.
However did see a sedan like a camry converted into a open attop tuk tuk.
Since 1980s they have just laid new power cables, not managed existing ones, so lots of power lines.
Motor bike/scooter of choice is honda
Passed monument on hill after who city was named, who was the king who moved the capital from Angkor Wat to here in the 1300s?
Passed embassies that are quite fortified. Past stadiums and a huge theatre, that were all empty this morning.
Past housing developments and great wall brand development that will be 3rd highest building in world.
Passed memorial to cambodia getting independence, then to the king who negotiated independence. Cambodia in 1800s asked the french to take over rule rather than be consumed into thailand and vietnam.
Ended up at central market where we bought sim cards. $8 each for a month.
8 arms from central dome with the nsew cross being under a large arched ceiling and in between arms covered, but less impressive. Sections devoted to different things. Centre was jewelry and watches, one for craft wood and silver, womens clothes, mens, household goods, fruit and veg, and tailoring.

Evening walk through evening night markets (with a bit off known brands), then closing old markets, through a park with organised workout class and multiple games of foot shuttlecock with teams of half a dozen each. Back to boat through a nightclub street.

Tonle Sap

Feb 17 fri - Tonle Sap river

Left Phnom Penh up the Tonle Sap river to small copper village of Koh Chen.
Factories here make silverware, though one factory makes copper and plates it in silver (and also brassware which isn't plated). Silver plating seems to be drop the copper in a bath of sulphuric acid and some silver. Some old ladies in the village in their mid 70s. And visited a school where we talked in english to the younger school kids, 3 little girls particularly engaged with Kerry.

Oudong Buddhist pagoda

Feb 18 Sat - Oudong Buddhist pagoda

Oudong Buddhist pagoda (town/collection of buildings). Got a buddhist blessing,
Then to village of Kampong Tralach, from which we took ox carts for 2 back to the river. Locals think it odd, why would you leave an air conditioned bus?

floating village

Feb 19 sun - floating village

River view of Kampong Chhnang port town with markets. The fruit and veg market is on the low river bank. In flood season the market is moved higher.
Even though high above the ground on stilts the river level in flood goes 1m deep through the houses. Some houses are built on poles that can be extended so can get above the rising flood level.

Then to the floating village, one of 200 I think he said on the lake. I think it was 100s of thousands living in these floating villages. These are generally poor people. They don't own land, and that may be because a large proportion are illegal emigrants, and hence can't own land. They are mostly Vietnamese.

One side of the river has electricity from the town, but the other side is dependent on batteries or generators. The wealthier ones have solar panels to charge batteries, otherwise it costs a few dollars to exchange for a fresh one every couple of days. They need electricity to watch satellite TV, and to charge their phones.
The bamboo used to float the houses lasts a few years. Others are floated by upside down water pots. Water pots are also used to hold curing fish paste, so multipurpose.

The to town market,

  • Eggs with embryos
  • Wine made from sugar from palm, which is only one day old, else turns to vinegar
  • Betel leaf, with betel nut (different plant), with paste made from burnt crushed snail shells is chewed (with tabacco too?) (by women mostly as social activity, though mostly older women these days)
  • Various medicines
  • Snails for eating (after treatment with sun and chilli)
  • Water beetle
  • Grasshoppers
Bayon temple, Angkor

Feb 20 mon - Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom

  • big heads
  • Relief showing building of Angkor Wat
  • Bayon temple

Angkor Wat

Feb 21 tue - Angkor Wat,  Tomb raider temple, ODA school

Angkor Wat

  •  Dawn
  •  Was built as hindu
  •  Converted to buddhist
  •  Later many of the buddhas decapitated
  •  Build of perfect north/south/east/west alignments

Ta Prohm temple

  •  Tomb raider temple
  •  Seems hindu, but outer gates had big faces which I thought were buddha

Opportunities for development through art

  • Children did a long and complicated dance for us
  • Shown around the school/accommodation by Sunshine
  • One classroom with desks for general teaching and another room with a couple of laptops
  • Kitchen combined dining room, though maybe the performance area was dining
  • Boys accommodation behind with bunks 3 high and half a dozen across with opposite wall wardrobe/boxes for them all
  • Girls upstairs, fewer bed (2 high?)
  • Sleeping 2-3 to a bed
  •  Solar water heater, power?. Hydroponic herbs and veges in back of performance area
  •  Sunshine is on the cover of the flyer, aged 3. She is now 14. Plannin g on being an english teacher.
  •  Bought a couple of her paintings
  •  Kerry brought lego for them, and seemed to go down well with some kids.
drying seed in the country

Feb 22 wed - outer suburbs

Horse cart ride from an outer suburb to the country, except that it is the current housing development area. Eventually got to rice fields, and water buffalo. Some new houses are built with big walls with big gates, security and guard dogs

Afternoon, old market, pub st for lunch and artisan complex in afternoon.

Pub street

Feb 23 thu - Siem Reap

We went to a museum this morning to early afternoon, and came back to the hotel for lunch since the museum cafe had only drinks. The museum was of Cambodia and previous tribes from about 1000ad to 1400ad
Mary and Randall had booked a tuk tuk and a guide for the day, which sounds extravagant but was only costing them $60. Anyway, while we were at lunch, a big thunderstorm passed through bringing down some small trees and dumping a lot of rain.

hotel in Siem Reap

Feb 24 hotel


Google Map 2017 Vietnam and Cambodia

All the photos in 2017 Vietnam and Cambodia
Holiday main page
All the holidays.
© Copyright 1996-2020 Kerry Raymond and David Horton