Day #2 of the Crazy Tour!

Trip Start Feb 17, 2013
Trip End Mar 21, 2013

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Friday, March 1, 2013

We started the morning early, 6:00 a.m. wake up, a nice breakfast and a 6:45 taxi to join the rest of our group that had booked steerage at another hotel that was just barely a still-floating hotel. Let the confusion begin!  We were down to about 40 people, in two tours, so the confusion was only slightly less.  But, we had the problem of being assigned to the wrong group because of our wrong boat tickets.

Last night we made a quick call to the tour "hot line."  Now, whoever thinks that that will result in something good happening?  But, wait!  I got some talking head in Vietnam, just like we do in the United States when we call a hot line.  The exciting part was . . . we are already in Vietnam!  And, unlike in the US, this lady actually had a clue.  Now we're rolling.  Better yet, she admitted there was a mistake -- on their part!  And, here's the good part, she said she would fix it.  I'm going to recommend that she be promoted to an Indian telephone help center so she can talk to even more Americans.

Sure enough, this morning when we met our new guide (who would have guessed), he was already up to speed on our problem and with a quick ticket exchange we were in our correct confused group.

Our first stop this morning was the not-to-be-missed carp fish farm.  Takes very little land to grow carp we found out -- think about that.  Actually, it was rather interesting since we saw many big metal sheds floating on the river today and wouldn't have had a clue what they are used for. Fortunately, they didn't offer any samples.  Then it was off, again by boat, to a Cham village. They are a Muslim minority that came from the central part of the country.  Remember the lesson in Hoi An and our trip to the My Son ruins?  So, we learned how another group of very poor people live. Then it was off to Cambodia.

The boat was smaller than I anticipated, about 40'.  Dayna and I chose the Promenade deck where we could hang out with a couple of Aussies and a nice guy from Denmark.  The view was better. After some quick mechanical work on the engine in the middle of the Mekong River, we were speeding up the river.

First stop is Vietnam customs.  Here we had a bag drag and our stuff scanned by a guy who couldn't have found a nuclear device even if he had been awake. Forty-five minutes later and we were on our way up the river a couple of miles to Cambodian customs.  Here they didn't care one bit what we brought into the country as long as it is wrapped in US dollars.  Thirty more minutes and we were on the river speeding to Phnom Penh.  It was a beautiful, relaxing trip with no more breakdowns or stops.  Arriving at the Phnom Penh docks, our tuk-tuk driver, Lan, met us as agreed and sped us off to our hotel.  I met Lan on Trip Advisor and he had had good reviews.

I promised Dayna that, in Cambodia, because it is about midway in our trip, we would stay at some four star hotels.  Really, all of the places we have stayed have been nice, but these I would make a point to go beyond the three star hotels.  The Pavilion, is a **** boutique hotel.  It was a French Colonial mansion that has been turned into a beautiful little place with a pool and garden eating area.  Very close to the river and palace area, 10'-20' ceilings everywhere.  Must have been quite elegant when the French were here exploiting the region in the 1800's.  ** Note from Dayna:  We found out later the hotel was built in 1932 and was the home to the current king's grandmother.  It is still owned by the royal family, which would explain the security outside the gate.

NOTE to our Trip Advisor readers:  Bring a towel to carry with you during the day. I was sweating worse than a whore in church.  After 10 days in Vietnam & Cambodia, we are yet to see a mosquito.  They must have flown south for the winter, it is the dry season here.  But, spray anyway and bring lots of sunscreen.  I kid you not, you can get a sunburn inside a building in this part of the world.  It is hot here!  The sun will fry you in just a few minutes.  It is advisable to bring a small wash cloth as they are unheard of in this end of the world.  If you are wondering what happens to all of those little tiny soap pieces that you dispose of in the West -- they are cut in half and repackaged for hotels here.  Try to shower holding your soap bar with tweezers!  Just a warning.  But I digress....

This evening was really something special.  Through a new friend on Trip Advisor, Ian, we were able to have dinner with three wonderful Cambodian ladies.  Ms. Khom and Ms. Sokun were supposed to go out to dinner with us but our guide for tomorrow, another lady, Ms. Davy, who Ian recommended, also joined us for dinner.  They took us to a beautiful place on the river for dinner, a place well beyond their financial capabilities, so this was a great evening for all of us.  Ms. Khom is a middle 30's lady who is in her last year of university.  Ms. Sokun was caught up in the Pol Pot tragedy when she was only 7 years old and managed to escape the death camps when she was 13.  She lost her whole family, everyone, to the camps.  We will tell you about Ms. Davy tomorrow. Her story is almost unbelievable.  What a fun evening talking with then, although "fun" might not be the right word.  About as fun as spending an evening yakking away with some Nazi death camp survivors.  But, the Nazis couldn't hold a candle to Pol Pot and his gang of criminals.  More on that tomorrow.

End of another great day with more to come.... 
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Marsha on

Am so loving reading your entries! Keep up the good work. It's really nice here in slc, in the 50's.

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