A trip of a live time is how I can best describe our trip via Audley Travel to Cambodia and Vietnam via The Mekong River. We stayed three nights in the glorious Victoria Angkor Resort and Spa, Siem Reap, with daily guided tours of the Temples and markets. Pub Street was the place to be in the evenings where meals in local restaurants where tasty, inexpensive and exciting. One in particular was a table top barbeque; we cooked the meat and veg ourselves from crocodile to kangaroo, certainly something very different from what we experience in restaurants in the UK. Our guide was both knowledgeable and interesting, as we were escorted in a private air-conditioned car to several Temples, one of which was a dawn brake through the jungle, with all the noises of wild life awakening as the sun arose over the Temple.
We traveled by coach through the countryside of Cambodia seeing the people working in the patty fields and little villages to the Mekong River where we boarded the Pandaw RV boat. We were greeted with a cool towel and soft drink, our shoes were taken to be cleaned and given slippers for our stay in our home for the next ten days aboard the beautifully maintained river boat with its well equipped, stylish and comfortable cabins. Breakfast started each day at 7.30 am and our first escorted trip around 10.00 am when we were taken to local villages and temples, some of which were on the river, here they had fish farms under their homes, which they moved from time to time to get away from their own sewage. Most of the homes on land where on stilts due to the rise and fall of the Mekong, most people, although poor were happy to greet us and show us around their villages, we also enjoyed an evening dancing and sharing pencils and sweets with local children, who are all very eager to learn in the hope to make better lives for themselves away from poverty. Pandaw prides itself in helping the economy of local village and help in whatever way they can i.e. building new schools, provided the money to support a teacher or whatever the chief of the village deemed priority for his people. A day trip and over night stay in Phnom Penh where we visited the Palace and museum and given the chance to visit the Killing fields, although I found it, like many others, very emotional and did not wish to go to the second site, but it was worth the trauma going if only to witness the enormity of cruelty and death. We went out of an evening on the town in Phnom Penh, visiting local bars, it was a strange experience many he she’s and girls offering their time, which a little seedy, but again an experience worth pursuing. We traveled via the Mekong into Vietnam changing captain and tour guide and again experiencing the local communities and their way of life, the Mekong River was more industrious and busy on this part of the river. Two nights in Saignon in the beautiful Palace Sol Hotel and Spa, we upgraded to executive and well worth the extra our room was fantastic with excellent service. We had a guided tour of the city visiting the large indoor market, various Temples and War Museums, very interesting, here is where trying to cross the road you take your life in yours hands; literally you step off the pavement and walk straight across the road in front of hundreds of mopeds and motorcycles, the advice is not to stop as the cyclist will avoid you but you will cause a accident if you stop confusing the drivers lol. There is a lot of poverty in Cambodia and Vietnam, where people and their families live and sleep on the street, sometimes beside their small businesses like barbers, food stalls etc. For many their pride and joy is their motor cycle, which means they can take their children to school and their father to work, they park it up on the pavement at night put up their mosquito net, roll out a blanket and sleep beside it every night, it doesn’t half make you thankful for having a roof over your head. This review just does not do Cambodia, Vietnam and the Mekong River Pandaw RV justice, go experience it for yourself you will not regret your visit and will come home a richer person. In my opinion this type of holiday is more suitable for older people single, couples or groups as it is more about the scenery and culture rather than nightlife and sunbathing.