Aqua Mekong Plies the Mekong River: Cambodia to Vietnam

This video takes us on a week long journey down the Mekong River, from Cambodia to Vietnam, aboard the Aqua Mekong. The Aqua Mekong is a 205′ vessel, operated by Aqua Expeditions. It holds a maximum of 40 passengers, and does so in teak-clad luxury. This video is longer than my usual videos, because I felt, to produce a shorter video would have been to do an injustice to an amazing week. Through the use of the …

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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 6 Capitols Present

ABOARD AMADARA-Phnom Penh is Cambodia’s capitol now but from 1618 to 1865 that honor belonged to Oudong, about 22 miles to the north. Its hundreds buildings, temples and royal stupas (repositories for cremation ashes) were destroyed by bombings in the early ‘70s and it is now a small town with the country’s largest Buddhist center. The center encompasses a large temple, housing for monks and nuns, dining hall, a school and pleasant gardens. Our morning began there …

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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: Day 1- Inchon International Airport, South Korea/Siem Reap, Cambodia

First you drive and fly and walk and sit and then you cruise. The main concourse of Inchon International Airport is paradise for shoppers and gawkers. Not so much for hurriers, though, as crowds amble aimlessly, looking into shop windows or their electronic devices. No one walks in a straight line or at a steady pace. Impossible to try anything but gawking as the “Parade of the Royal Family,” cymbals clashing, pipes tweeting out a regal rhythm …

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Preparing for a cruise aboard AmaDara along the Mekong River

August 17 Ama Dara revs engines for its inaugural cruise on the Mekong River and our featured writer Judy Wells will be on board to chronicle Ama Waterways’ newest and grandest vessel. From the day she leaves home in Jacksonville, FL to explore the paths of UNESCO World Heritage Site Angkor Wat temple complex to the last day in bustling Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), she will report on accommodations and cuisine, shore excursions and what guests …

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Leaving Vietnam with memories of 2013 and 1968

Last in a series from the ruins and rivers of Southeast Asia My first trip to Vietnam ended in mid-March 2013. I flew out of Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City a few weeks shy of 45 years since I was drafted into the US Army during the Vietnam War. As a soldier, I never made it out of the United States, spending nearly two years based in and around Washington, DC. But I will never forget 1968. That …

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Cruising to Saigon, where people still are careful

Sixth in a series from the ruins and rivers of Southeast Asia For our last day on the Mekong River, the Avalon Angkor was docked in downtown Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), which was abuzz with people at work, at play and, in between, riding their motorbikes. Lots of locals still call it Saigon, this city of 10 million people and nearly as many motorbikes, which, said a guide, are primarily from China, because the bikes are …

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