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Asia Cruising

From Vietnam to Cambodia, Cruising Down the Mekong River

From Vietnam to Cambodia, Cruising Down the Mekong River

The Mekong River – the world twelfth largest river, the lifeblood and the boundary line of much of Southeast Asia. Cutting through valleys, ancient silk towns, major metropolises, monasteries and hundreds of miles of farm lands and fishing towns… exploring the Mekong River is a cultural traveler’s delight. Today, I’m sharing the highlights of my fifteen-day long exploration of Cambodia and Vietnam while cruising down the Mekong River.

Vietnam

In between visiting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city, cruising down the Mekong River gave me the opportunity to see a quainter, more rural and authentic side to its people and its culture… for which I’m forever grateful. I truly believe getting off of the well-worn path of must-see cities and metropolises gives travelers a more well-rounded, fuller perspective of a place.

Cái Bè

Perhaps there’s nothing more classic on a Mekong River cruise than experiencing a floating market. Cái Bè’s market was buzzing with excitement, from the sellers and farmers bargaining amongst themselves, to the overflowing amounts of fresh vegetables, candies and more. However, just off the busy market streets you’ll find the calmer waterways lead to the heart of the village, where locals showed us their honey tea making customs and let us sample their delicacies. So special!

Sa Déc

After boarding a small boat set to explore the backwaters of the Mekong Delta, after passing many factories and floating markets, we landed on Sa Déc’s shores. Sa Déc is home to famous authors and brick factories, but what I loved most about exploring this small city was the interactions I had with the locals who were selling their handmade goods and homegrown fruits and vegetables. Having the time to speak with locals and support the local economy was so incredible.

Tan Chau

Our time in Vietnam’s silk weaving factory town, Tan Chau, will forever stay with me. In between exploring the silk-weaving looms, wooden beams and swelteringly hot conditions, we were able to again connect with the locals yet again. Their smiling faces and warm reception to us meant the world to me. It’s the small yet meaningful interactions with locals that always resounds the most with my heart.

Cambodia

Although Cambodia’s famous Angkor Wat draws many, many tourists every day… I could not suggest seeing the country’s quieter side more. Every morning our excursions through Cambodia’s villages revealed a new, intimate experience I just know more travelers would love to witness on their own. For anyone looking to experience their own Indochina Tour, there are so many options and packages out there for every type of traveler.

Chong Kho

Upon crossing into Cambodia’s borders, we were welcomed into the small village of Chong Kho – best known for its silk-weaving and rich fabrics. I found myself exploring the small streets alleys filled with local children, joyfully playing in their swing sets and climbing trees.

French NGO

I truly love photographing people. Their expressions, their joy, the spark in their eyes when I make them giggle or attempt to say something in their language. I spent so much time with the children you see below, these snapshots are just glimpses into the memories I have of them laughing, jumping and walking side by side with me.

From Vietnam to Cambodia, Cruising Down the Mekong River
From Vietnam to Cambodia, Cruising Down the Mekong River
From Vietnam to Cambodia, Cruising Down the Mekong River
From Vietnam to Cambodia, Cruising Down the Mekong River

Kampong Cham

Kampong Cham is a centrally located hub of fishing and agriculture in Cambodia, filled with dense archaeological sights and over 200 ancient temples. You read that right! 200 ancient temples… some of which go back further than the Khmer Empire.

From Vietnam to Cambodia, Cruising Down the Mekong River
From Vietnam to Cambodia, Cruising Down the Mekong River

Magnificent Mekong with Viking Cruises

The grand Mekong River was a sight to behold. And having it as my morning view? Priceless. Viking’s itinerary through the Vietnamese and Cambodian river valley boasts some of the most gorgeous panoramas. But what really made me fall in love was their commitment to showcasing the authentic silk towns, fishing villages and aged beauty of the Vietnamese and Cambodia culture. Each morning I knew that my day would be filled with discovery unlike I’d ever imagine.

Viking’s lodgings and menu always leave me rested and well fed – exactly what I need before taking part on daily excursions! Traditional Vietnamese and Cambodian meals were offered daily… and as an adventurous eater, I loved the experience of tasting the indigenous flavors and authentic dishes as much as I possibly good. 

While cruising through these ancient villages and learning from the locals, I was extremely thankful for Insure Yonder’s travel insurance coverage. I’ve learned the hard way in years past that airline and cruise insurance can be super expensive and lack coverage… but their insightful and thorough coverage gave me such a sense of ease while on this grand adventure. Very thankful for the peace of mind it brought to me while enjoying these serene sights!


A big thank you to Viking Cruises for the opportunity to travel to Vietnam and Cambodia. And also a big, resounding thank you to Insure Yonder for providing us with travel insurance, in case of an emergency! 

Trip sponsored by Viking Cruises. As always, all opinions are my own. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.

Asia Journal

Lessons From Cambodia: Keep An Open Heart

The world, to me, is like a blank white canvas and every new color that I paint onto it is a new place that I have had the opportunity to explore. It doesn’t matter how many colors I move from the palette to the canvas because the colors can never quite fill the page. I am always discovering new crevices or corners that cannot be reached, even with the thinnest of thin paint brushes. Like a moth to a flame, I have the insatiable desire to travel the world and discover new destinations. This powerful desire is what led me to the decision to make this three day solo trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia happen.

So there I was, day one in Cambodia… a third-world country where the language is unbeknownst to me, the money currency consists of absurdly large numbers on their bills, and there is not a single familiar face in sight. Yet I knew what I was getting myself into when I made the crazy decision to embark on this trip to Cambodia alone.

Straight from the airport, I jumped right into my search for the closest tourist attraction with nothing but myself and the giant backpack on my back. My search for the nearest tourist attraction, which in this case was the Wat Phnom, was unsuccessful.

Anyone that knows me knows that I am god-awful with directions; even with a GPS that requires me to simply follow the green dot that led to the red dot, I still managed to get lost. Now I suppose, in my defense, I might add that the GPS on my phone was in Chinese since I originally bought my phone in China! However, the red and green dots were still universal colors… so I surrender all excuses.

After walking up a street, then back down the street, and up the same street again attempting to follow the infuriating green dot on my phone, a Cambodian man in his mid-thirties asked if I needed help with directions. I politely refused his help.

Since I had never been to Cambodia before, it meant that this was unchartered territory for me. Although I usually love striking up conversations with strangers, I was unusually defensive and suspicious since I was in this new country, completely alone. Might I add that this was also my first trip to a different country alone.

After politely refusing this stranger’s help, I continued on with my search for Wat Phnom, which was having me walk in circles at this point.

After a short while, another Cambodian man approached me, this one was younger and closer to my age. He saw me staring at my phone and recommended that I not go in the direction that I was heading because there was nothing to see. He recommended that I actually go in the opposite direction since that is where all the popular tourist attractions are located. I could see in this stranger’s eyes that he was genuinely trying to help.

With this realization I slowly lowered my shield and listened to his recommendation. He asked my name and I asked his and after thanking him we shook hands. The kindness from this young man and from the stranger before him made me feel ashamed for my previous paranoia. I had every reason to be cautious since I was in the foreign country, completely alone; but at the same I also knew that I should try to keep an open heart and mind and not be so quick to judge.

With a more open heart, I followed this young man’s directions and with relief I realized that the green dot on my phone was getting closer to the red dot that I was starting to believe was nonexistent. I was heading toward my destination when I was once again stopped by another Cambodian man who wore a krama (a traditional Cambodian scarf) wrapped around the top part of his head.

I knew did not have anything to be afraid of. When this Cambodian man with attempted to make conversation with me, I reciprocated by answering his questions. His questions were typical questions out of curiosity: Where are you from? How long will you be here for? Is this your first time in this country?

I found out that this man’s name was Sok. Sok told me of his great love for Cambodia. Sok also told me that he has been a tuk tuk driver for many years and told me of the places that I must see during my time in Cambodia.

As our lovely conversation came to a close, I asked Sok if he would mind taking a picture with me to commemorate this moment. This brought a huge smile to Sok’s face which brought a huge smile to mine. We took our picture and I thanked him profusely for all the helpful advice he gave me regarding my time in Cambodia and then we bid our goodbyes. After our conversation, I continued in the direction of man number two’s directions and once again headed toward the red dot on my phone.

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