AmaDara inaugural cruise: Life aboard AmaDara

A typical day begins with breakfast from 7 to 9 a.m., although early birds can have their coffee and nibbles from 6 a.m. in the Saigon lounge. Breakfast fare always includes Pho Ba and eggs your way at the Action Station; a buffet of cold meats and cheese, pancakes, bacon, sausage, baked beans, broiled tomatoes, potatoes, boiled eggs, various juices and a variety of sweet pastries and fresh baked breads. Morning excursions typically begin at 8:30 and …

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AmaDara inaugural cruise: About AmaDara

A new ship is like a young girl, a work in progress as she is groomed, improved and tweaked into gracious maturity. Ama Waterways’ latest river vessel, Ama Dara, is a lovely, young lady with great bones that will benefit from the further refinement her owners intend to make. Googling AmaDara will get you to all of the measurements and details, if that is what you want. Sort of like recreating a baseball game from stats in …

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AmaDara inaugural cruise: Days 13 and 14

ABOARD AMADARA-One last day in Saigon begins at the Ben Thanh Market for a last batch of shopping and haggling. Wondering how it is all going to fit in my suitcase, I join two travel pals for lunch at the highly touted Cuc Gach Quan. Alas, perhaps AmaDara has spoiled us for the cuisine did not meet our expectations. Back at the Sofitel, still pondering purchases vs. space, we decide to treat ourselves to a foot massage. …

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AmaDara inaugural cruise: Day 12

ABOARD AMADARA-Landing in Saigon I wake up to find AmaDara against the bulkhead at the industrial port of My Tho. River vessels stop here because to reach the port of Saigon they must take to the open ocean, much too dangerous in a flat-bottomed ship. Bill paid, passport in hand, luggage out, breakfast eaten, cabin key cards back to reception, all of the details of disembarkation handled, it is time to leave AmaDara for an optional two-night …

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AmaDara Inaugural Cruise: Day 11

ABOARD AMADARA-Our last full day of excursions begins with a boat ride to Sa Dec, where a walk along the bustling riverfront market place left no doubt that this is a hub of commerce. Many a village marketer buys produce here. No takers in ghe group, however, when a Vietnamese delicacy, rats, were pointed out. This is a busy city of 103,000. Always a big city by Mekong Delta standards, during the American War, as the Vietnam …

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AmaDara inaugural cruise: Days 9 and 10

We cruised all day, reaching Vietnam waters, the formalities of checking visas (all taken care of for us by the staff) and finally mooring midstream at Tan Chau just in time for ice cream on the sundeck and a spectacular sunset. The Mekong is mighty in southern Vietnam, wide and fast flowing. If Jerome Kern had seen it before the Mississippi, the caramel waters of the Mekong surely would have become Big Muddy. Other things tip you …

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AmaDara inaugural cruise: Days 7 and 8

Capital Capitol Phnom Penh How many different kinds of watches – fake designer or otherwise – can there be? The answer lies in Phnom Penh’s Central Market where booth after booth after booth displays mountains of different kinds of wrist-worn timepieces beneath and above the glass counters. Want a genuine fake Hermes bag? Gucci? Valentino? Keep walking through this high-domed, circular edifice to merchandise and head to the many spokes of covered and semi-covered stalls. Everything from …

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AmaDara inaugural cruise: Day 5

ABOARD AMADARA- Villages Afloat and on Land There are 173 floating villages in Cambodia with some 1.2 million people living in them. From AmaDara we boarded a very comfortable touk tor boat to visit one, Kampong Chhnang, on Tonle Sap Lake. As we motored along the liquid main street a fascinating floating lifestyle passed by. Grocery stores, sundry stores, clothes shops, karaoke bars, even discos afloat. Machine shops, bamboo stock for rebuilding the houses (each lasts four …

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AmaDara inaugural cruise-Day 4 Kampong

ABOARD AMADARA-What do you do on a 300 kilometer bus ride through the Cambodian countryside between Siem Real and Prek Dam? Learn a bit about the country and its customs from Nip, our genial guide for this leg of our voyage. For example, don’t be insulted when a Cambodian asks how old you are then if you tell him you are anything over 60, he remarks how very old you are. It’s a compliment; very few Cambodians …

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AmaDara inaugural cruise: Day 3 Siem Reap, Cambodia

ABOARD AMADARA- Angkor Wat is imposing in the dark, in the dawn and in the full light of day. I know because we saw it and so did a thousand or so other travelers. Five a.m. comes awfully early but as early as we were, many more had arrived before us. The line to get in was long and the confused muddle of vehicles just as tangled as we had encountered mid-morning at Angkor Thom. Traveling in …

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