Date of Trip: January 2010
ROG AND LARI’S 2010 S.E. Asia Trip to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Bangkok & Tokyo
Jan. 25 to Feb. 19, 2010
I had wanted to go to Vietnam for a couple of years, and finally planned this trip. We invited 4 friends to join us on this adventure. Viet Vision Travel Agency based in Hanoi made all the arrangements for us. Our three-week trip was only $1500 per person, not including airfare to get there.
We enjoyed the food in all the countries… we had breakfasts provided by our hotels, and most lunches provided by the tours. We enjoyed trying different restaurants around our hotels. Most dinners cost $2 or $3 per person.
I got massages almost every other day… either a foot massage or body massage, sometimes both! Most massages were $5 to $10 per hour.
The weather there is very hot and humid, especially in Saigon and Cambodia. Roger loves cold weather, so he suffered the most.
We started our tour in Hanoi. Our hotel was in the old quarter of Hanoi, and the street scenes fascinated us… people wearing the coolie hat, women selling goods by carrying them on a bamboo pole on their shoulder, many noisy motor bikes, horns tooting, crazy traffic, street food on the sidewalks and so much more to fill all your senses. In Hanoi we visited Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum, where he lies in state fully preserved. We visited his home, and the Presidential Palace, the Temple of Literature, the Museum of Ethnology, enjoyed a Water Puppet Show and took a cyclo (modern day rickshaw) tour of Old Hanoi.
From Hanoi we took an overnight train to Sapa, where we saw the terraced rice paddies and met the Hmong people. After trekking through the Black Hmong and Flower Hmong villages, and attending market day, we returned to Hanoi on the overnight train. We were driven to Halong City to board a “junk” for an overnight cruise on beautiful Halong Bay. The scenery and expeditions to some islands were outstanding, and the seafood on the junk was fabulous. We all got a foot massage in Halong City after the cruise.
After Halong Bay we flew to Hue where we visited Danang, China Beach, My Son and Hoi An. We had a wonderful guide nicknamed “Flower”, who told great stories about her country. We all got custom-made clothing at one of the many tailor shops in Hoi An, a lovely town small enough to walk around.
We flew to Saigon, now named Ho Chi Minh City, a huge metropolis crowded with millions of motorbikes and cars. It takes guts to cross the street through the crazy traffic. From our hotel, we could walk to the night market, to massage shops, to beauty salons that offer more than beauty treatments by the sexy girls sitting out front. We had a day trip to the Mekong Delta and a trip to Cu Chi tunnels, where they educated us on the warfare methods used by the Vietcong. We also visited the War Remnant Museum, which shows the atrocities of the American War.
In Siem Reap, Cambodia, we had a beautiful hotel with a swimming pool, and our favorite guide, Mr. Long, who lost an eye and a finger during the Khmer Rouge blood bath of Pol Pot. He told wonderful stories about his culture and history, that helped us appreciate Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. Here we toured in the early morning and late afternoon, because of the intense heat. It was nice to have lunch, enjoy a cool swim and relax in our aircon rooms before touring again in the afternoon.
Luang Prabang, Laos was a very serene place compared to the madness of the metropolis of Saigon. We woke up early to see many monks in saffron robes walking barefooted through the streets accepting offerings of food from the people. We took a boat ride on the Mekong up to Pak Ou caves filled with thousands of gold Buddhas.
We ended our tour in Bangkok where we enjoyed shopping, getting massages, and eating the delicious food. Our favorite restaurant is Condoms and Cabbages, that donates their profits to help the needy. Roger and I toured the magnificent Grand Palace.
We all flew to Narita, where the 4 of them continued on home, and Roger and I stayed in Tokyo for a few days to visit with friends.