Cruising Cambodia from rural villages to the gruesome Killing Fields

Fourth in a series from the ruins and rivers of Southeast Asia Floating on the Tonle Sap toward Phnom Penh, stopping at ancient sites and visiting riverside villages, passengers on Avalon Angkor begin to get a real picture of life in rural Cambodia. “We only got real peace in 1998,” said Wanty, our primary Cambodian guide. “We started from scratch, so it will take us a long time to build a country.” Our riverboat tied up to …

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Cruising on Avalon Angkor, a modern riverboat built for the Mekong

Third in a series from the ruins and rivers of Southeast Asia. After three days of exploring Cambodia’s temples and ruins, and passing by such roadside delicacies as sparrows and rats, grilled crickets, spiders and roaches, all of which were in plentiful supply, we were ready for the cool comforts and stocked kitchen of a fancy riverboat, Avalon Angkor. We met our home for a week at Prek Dam, Cambodia, where the vessel was tied to a …

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Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, spiritual ruins and temples that amaze

Second in a series from the ruins and rivers of Southeast Asia A trip to Cambodia’s Angkor ruins surely is a bucket list event. Angkor was home more than 1,000 years ago to a great Hindu empire that left behind some 19 square miles of stone temples and tombs, now in various states of ruin and restoration. The temples at Angkor, built between the 9th and 13th centuries by the Khmer people as interpretations of Indian religious …

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Journey to Cambodia and Vietnam, Woman, would you weep for me?

View Vietnam and Cambodia in a larger map As luck would have it, I didn’t get to Da Nang, Vietnam, in 1968. I arrived 45 years later. In neither case did I have a say about the matter. In 1968, Vietnam was the last place I wanted to land. After four years of college at Miami University, I went to work in the summer of 1967 at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland as a newspaper reporter.  Nine …

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A family tour of a Paris neighborhood with a local guide

PARIS — Green, red or purple? Not crayons, French Macarons, the best cookie you could ever taste. We’re in Gerard Merlot, a shop famous for macarons in the St Germain district of Paris, with Genevieve Robert, who we’ve met through a terrific company called Tours by Locals. You correspond ahead of your trip with a local guide who can tailor a tour to your liking—food, design, architecture, kids… I like that the guides are all locals and …

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In Rouen, France — where Joan of Arc died and Monet painted a famous cathedral

Rouen, on the Seine River in Normandy — She was a teenaged girl who was seeing things.  Centuries later, she is the national symbol of France. Joan of Arc was born in 1412 to a family of farm laborers. When she was a young teen, she started to hear voices telling her to help the dauphin regain the throne.  From the start of the Hundred Year’s War in 1337, the English and French fought over that throne …

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Two days touring the D-Day sites in Normandy

Normandy coastline, France — Elizabeth Kelly is standing in front of the gravestone of the grandfather she never met. She’s far from home—as was he as a young Lieutenant from Chicago fighting in World War II.  His name was Forrest Kelly and he’d left behind a wife and two young children. We are at the famous Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial overlooking Omaha Beach, where the massive allied assault on the Normandy on June 6, 1944 aimed …

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A cruise with a difference — along the Seine River in Normandy

ON THE SEINE RIVER BETWEEN PARIS AND NORMANDY — We’re gliding along a field dotted with daisies; at lunch I watched a family of swans. I’m on a different kind of cruise—a River Cruise on the Seine in France on Avalon Waterways Creativity—just 140 passengers on this 361-foot long barge and with just 70 staterooms and two suites.  (The newest Avalon ships will be all-suites.) “You get to know people here… and it’s nice that you unpack …

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Cruising on the Seine River – a stop at Monet’s Garden in Giverny

ON THE SEINE RIVER BETWEEN PARIS AND NORMANDY — I’m walking in Monet’s glorious gardens at Giverny on sunny day thinking about a little girl skipping over the famous green Japanese Bridges a big smile on her face. That was my daughter Melanie, 7 at the time, who was enamored of the book Linnea in Monet’s Garden, so from the time we announced we were going to France in 1998, she announced we must visit Monet’s Garden.  …

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Cambodia, Vietnam River cruises reach Angkor ruins, villages

New riverboats are cruising in Cambodia and Vietnam. These vacation voyages are an eye-opener, not only to the famed stone Angkor ruins, but also to the lives of rural villagers who are emerging from decades of warfare and deprivation. River cruises, which have proven hugely popular in Europe, are expanding to more exotic locales, drawing vacationers primarily from North America, Europe and Australia. Yet, riverboat journeys in Southeast Asia are neither an ordinary nor leisurely cruise, at …

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