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Published: September 3rd 2010
The final 24 hours were busy-cooking meals for Tom,sorting out house things-furniture moving and finally packing at 4AM and finishing at 0545 as Annie's mother arrived to take us to the airport.We were sound asleep as we took off and time for a few beers at the airport resort in Darwin and before we knew it we were in Ho Chi Minh City,arriving at 9.30 PM. It was straight to the backpackers district Pham Ngu Lao and Madam Cuc's Hotel 127. This place is really friendly and supplies breakfast and dinner with hot water,pvt bathroom ,wifi and satellite television-a bit expensive at $20 but I guess it is HCMC . We saw the usual sights,Reunification Palace complete with last US helicopter on roof,war Museum with lots of interesting history and grizzly photos etc. The motorscooter traffic is amazing and crossing the road,a dangerous task.
The food as expected is fantastic ,particularly the Pho or noodles with broth and chicken(in our case) or other meat. The Saigon beer is also excellent and after so many months without alcohol it went down well.
As usual ,we tend to wander off the tourist trail and we flew from HCMC to the island of Phu
Qouc in the Gulf of Thailand. This island is mainly a tourist destination for the Vietnamese and we rented a nice villa for a couple of days only a few meters from the ocean . The swimming and food here are very pleasant as was the Hiep Thanh resort.From here it was across the island, a slow boat to Ha Tien followed by a small bus to the Cambodian border and on to the Waterview Guesthouse in Phnom Penh. This was our first experience with a same name hotel where multiple hotels trade on the reputation of the genuine item. I suppose if you can have "knock off " watches and T shirts,why not hotels. In PP we enjoyed the markets and bars and general waterside relaxation. On to Siem Riep and to Angkor Wat where we stayed a couple of days. This complex ,spread over many sq Kms is all what we expected. We hired a tuk tuk for the day and visited many temples including the must sees "Bayan and Ankor". We did a Khymer cooking course (or should we say Morning) which was the best thing we have done so far. We cooked 3 courses each including
spring rolls,Khymer curried chicken, banana sago etc then sat down and ate what we cooked. Back to PP and just enough time to vote and phone a friend living here and on to another complex trip back to HCMC via The Mekong Delta. We boarded a boat a little way out of PP and spent the rest of the afternoon on a Mekong Tributary in a giant rain storm thinking we were on patrol circa 1968-no Vietcong. After border formalities on a pontoon on the side of the river we arrived at Chau Doc where we stayed on a floating hotel and were rocked to sleep after an excellent meal of squid,prawns and crab (and saigon of course). A visit to a Cham village(delta tribe) and then more boating and finally to HCMC where we boarded a sleeping bus to Nha trang.
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