A Travellerspoint blog

Out of the Fat and into the Fire -

from Temperatures to Transportation Intrepid Indochina Family Adventure

10-04-2012

This morning we were on deck at 8 am for our cyclo tour of Saigon. It was really nice to get a sense of the city without trying to dodge traffic. With the flick of his hand, Hoang beckoned our chariots and six men pedaled to the front door of our hotel. It was only seconds before I felt terribly bad about being fat. It was 36 degrees, humid and these poor tiny Vietnamese men wearing jeans had to pedal us giant western beasts around the city. It was not a guiltless experience.

Fortunately it wasn't a long ride because they dropped us at the Vietnam war museum or the "American war" as it is called here. This was a horrific experience. I had no idea of the magnitude of the damage from a war that was so recent. The Agent Orange exhibit was devastating and we were all moved to tears. There are still children being born in Vietnam with severe defects as a result of the chemical warfare used in that war. Despite the fact that the United States broke international laws, there has been no compensation to the people affected. There are some American groups that have contributed to the museum here in Saigon. Hoang says the Vietnamese still cry for help as the handicap population is so high, but they accept it as history and harbour no hard feelings (his dad was in the war). I believe that since I see these people as warm and welcoming. It is remarkable the way this country has recovered and I am very impressed with the number of social programs for these people. Lorna recalls seeing hundreds of disabled people begging on the streets 18 years ago and we have seen next to none.

Our chariots waited outside and we continue to dodge traffic in these bikes. We literally crossed right into the middle of the traffic and rode along with the motorbikes and cars. A little freaky but you just have to sit back and trust your driver. You can see the traffic density in the pictures. We were safely delivered back to our hotel and had time to shower and eat before heading to the airport. I am truly sad to be leaving this beautiful country. I would love to have a couple of months here. Hoang is building a new home and has invited us to come stay some time. I may just do that.

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I cannot say our flight to Cambodia was uneventful. Sharon, just remember I fly a lot and this is my first experience with severe turbulence. Just prior to take off we had heavy rain and I could see thunderstorms moving in so I knew we were in for a bumpy ride but this was my worst flying experience. It was a very scary departure. But, we are safe and sound in Phnom Penh and all is well. Even from the drive into the city we can feel we are in a different world. Lorna and Sharon say it is more like Thailand. Once again we are pleasantly surprised with a lovely hotel only this time, unlike Saigon, our room is huge. One of the first things I notice is that people greet us by joining their hands in front of their chest (like Namaste) and bow. The doorman, the bellman, the waiter. I feel like royalty. It is as though all is right in the world. I just might like it here.

We were late getting to the hotel so decided to just go for a nice Cambodian meal and save the sightseeing for tomorrow. Hoang took us to a beautiful restaurant on the lake. The view was gorgeous, we were entertained by petite and pliable Cambodian girls, and the food was great. You will see Isaac's Water Buffalo with fried egg and my Khmer Curried Chicken. It was a lovely welcome to Cambodia. As the heat seems even more intense here, or rather the humidity, we decided to come back to our air conditioned rooms and get a good sleep. We have a full day planned for tomorrow which was a scheduled free day. Hoang has arranged a Cambodian guide and van to take us to all the sites including the Killing Fields. More sobbing I expect. As always, he will join us as well. What a great guide we have. He is so good with the children. He takes special time for each of them everyday and is a big kid himself. We have truly been blessed on this holiday.

Until tomorrow.
Shelley and Isaac

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Posted by curlygirl 14:40 Archived in Vietnam Tagged cambodia vietnam family chi ho minh jetstar siagon

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