Cambodia – Choung Ek

February 21, 2018

Today ay 1200 we loose our Cambodian guide SoKun who has been so helpful and such a nice man. We tipped him well.

This morning we departed the Mekong Navigator at 0830 for the “Killing Fields” Choung Ek memorial Stupta. Its hard to imaging the brutality that unfolder here when wandering through the peaceful, shady former longaorchard. The killing fields of Choung Ek was the scene of one of the most disturbing act of violence in contemporary history. The memorial stupa brings it home, displaying more than 8,000 skullaand their ragged clothes. In 1988 the memorial stupa was erected, and the museum in the corner of the grounds offers detailed background information on the Khmer rouge leaders, as well as victims. Of the 120 communal graves at Choung Ek, 49 49 have been left intact

Next stop Tuol Sleng Genocide museum or S-21. Originally a school built by the French Tuol Sleng was turned into the Khmer Rouge’s largest detention and torture headquarters. More than 17,000 men, women and children mmoved through S-21 on there way to the Choung Ek killing fields. The prison has been converted into a museum with thousands of photographs of the Khmer Rough victums, as well as diaries amd poems. It sadening to learn that out of the thousdand that lived here only 7 survived.

We departed Phnom Penh dock at 1430 and are headed down the Mekong River to Vietnam.

Were enjoying some down time as we cruise the river, we have been very busy and the weather hot!

Cambodia – boarding of the Mekong Navigator

This is the day we have been waiting for we depart the hotel the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort at 1100 for a 4.5 hour drive to the Mekong River in Kampong Chaam. Once we are safely on board the boat will depart for Wat Hanchey.

1815 Safety Briefing

1900-2100 Royal Kkmer dinner served in the La Marche Restaurant

After Dinner R&R

Halong Bay

Were headed out to Halong Bay, we have checked out of hotel and will return in two days. This is our expexted itinary and will update as the journey progresses and add photos.

We had breakfast at the hotel it was the most comprehensive array of food we have ever seen in a hotel. The food ranges from classic American to French and Vietnamees items beyond my basic comprehension of the cusine.

After a 4-hour buss ride we arrived at Halong Bay and boarded the Paradise Elegance with 31 en-suite cabins, luxury yes, junk no, the boat had a spacious sundeck, spa, main restaurant and piano bar.

Along the route we observed rice paddys, farming and Vietnamees life in general.

The style is traditional and grand, using luxurious materials such as dark wood and leather. The boat is the largest in the Paradise Cruises fleet, with plenty of space to roam around on board. There is lots of outside deck space equipped with comfy chairs and sun-loungers, meaning you can relax whilst still making the most of the stunning scenery.
With large windows and balconies, the cabins aim to create a sense of space, and the suites boast a similar size measurement to an average hotel room. All the cabins have air-conditioning, and there is also no compromise on the in-room amenities, including toiletries, a hair-dryer, bathrobes, slippers and a safe. The cabins also come with complimentary mineral water.

During the cruise we explored highlights of Halong Bay with an English-speaking guide, and sailed amongst some of the 2,000 limestone karsts that make this one of the most famous and dramatic vistas in the world.

We visited Luon Cave – known as monkey cave ia secluded grotto with a full family of Macau monkeys in residents.

Back to the boat for a 15-minute break while they moved closer to Sung Sot cave the largest cave in Halong Bay. Mike decided to stay on rhe boat while Pat took the launch to the cave due to the 200 plus steps in the wet cave. It was a bit early in the trip for a mis-step. Pat is incharge of taking the photos.

While sitting on the balcony enjoying some quiet tine a flotilla of young enterprising Vietnamees girls cane by selling eveything fron wine, beer, snacks to star fish shells; the more things change in developing countries, the more tgey stay the same.

Tonight we anchored at Coconut Tree island.

Dinner on board at 1900 and music in the piano bar.

Tomorrow we visit Ti top island the most beautiful island in Halong Bay. We depart Halong Bay at 1030 for the ride back to Hanoi.

Update – Another overcast day weather wise so we decided to skip the 200 step climb on Ti Top island. The ceiling is very low and the visability is poor, once again proving that you can plan a trip but not the weather.
Even with the overcast weather Halong bay is beautiful with its 1,969 (the year of Ho Chi Minh’s death) karsts.

On the way back to Hanoi we stoped at Legend Pearl. They had excellent demonstration of the process of embedding a small piece of shell, usually from a fresh water musssel honed to a sphere shape.

JFK to Korea and on to Vietnam

If you are reading this post it means we have arrived at JFK Airport in NY via private transport, it probably about 2100 on February 9, 2018. Our flight departs on 2/10 at 0050 (12:50 AM for non-military folks) We arrive in Seoul S. Korea at 0515 (2/11/2018) we depart for Hanoi at 0810 and arrive 1110 hours at Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport. We are then picked up and taken the the hotel.

Let the adventure begin!

It’s now 0545 in Korea. We have arrived at Seoul/Incheon and are sitting with the masses because the Sky Club does not open until 0700 and we board at 0740, bummer. We had two good meals on the plane and excellent service. Cudos to Pat for wanting to fly business class, our seat actually turned into beds.