Day 1: My Tho
Register at 0930 at the Renaissance Riverside Hotel in Saigon and transfer at 1100 to the Delta Port of My Tho by coach, avoiding tidal delays on the Cao Gao canal. The time saved this gives us more time in the wilder areas upstream. The transfer time is approximately two hours. My Tho is the hub of the Delta, but not of great cultural interest, so once on board we set sail and have lunch. In the afternoon we moor near Cai Be and make a fascinating trip by traditional junk to explore evergreen islands and at the former Imperial residence, the An Kiet House. Surviving members of the Kiet family will welcome us with tea and we can wander in the fruit orchards around the house. On the way back we stop at Dong Hoa Hiep Island to see boat yards, brick works and traditional roofers. Overnight moor mid-stream Cai Be.
Day 2: Cai Be
We take a morning junk trip around Cai Be to see a floating market, and go ashore to visit the French Gothic Cathedral and colourful port area, with its colonial buildings, delightful flower gardens and local coconut candy and rice paper. manufacturers. Return to ship and cruise over to Vinh Long to visit a Bonsai Garden and fruit farm, followed by visit to brick – and pottery factory. Return to ship and cruise past Vinh Long City and evergreen islands. Remainder of day cruising through the Mekong Delta.
Day 3: Chau Doc / Border Crossing
From the main Mekong channel at Tan Chau we travel down the canals and backwaters by local ferry boat. At Chau Doc we transfer to small boats to visit a Cham tribal village. We also visit a cat fish farm. We take a trishaw ride round this fascinating town of fine French-colonial buildings and see its bustling market. Return to the ship by boat for lunch and cast off for the Cambodian border for the usual formalities, which in this part of the world, take time. Evening cruise up the broad Mekong channel, which is an international shipping route. Moor overnight just downstream from Phnom Penh.
Day 4: Phnom Penh
The capital of Cambodia retains its French charm. The old colonial architecture makes an attractive backdrop to busy cafes, and the renovated river “corniche” is full of life. The city has several impressive wats, including Wat Ounalom, Wat Phnom and the newly-painted Wat Lang Ka. Pride of place goes to the spectacular Silver Pagoda, one of the few places in Cambodia where artifacts embodying the brilliance and richness of Khmer culture were preserved by the Khmer Rouge. The National Museum is another highlight, with outstanding displays of Khmer crafts. An afternoon excursion is arranged to the Killing Fields and the Khmer Rouge’s grim Tuol Sleng or S21 detention centre situated in the suburbs of the city. More happily, Phnom Penh has a lively night life, and some passengers choose to dine ashore or try one of the capital’s many watering holes; a favourite being the Foreign Correspondents’ Club.
Day 5: Phnom Penh to Kampong Cham
Early morning departure from Phnom Penh and a stop at the little-known Chong Koh silk weaving village for a morning walk at leisure. We cruise past the Mekong’s timeless villages and river life with extensive fishing activities. The scenery is very lovely here, and in the distance, forested hills rise. On the river above Phnom Penh there is little shipping, just real Cambodian life. In the afternoon we stop at Peam Chi Kang village to visit the wat or monastery and school. Passengers are at leisure to explore this peaceful and friendly community. In the wat the splendid village racing boats are stored.
Day 6: Kampong Cham Area
Morning journey upriver to the hilltop pre-Angkorian temple of Wat Hanchey. Dating from the 8th century, these ancient brick structures characterise the architecture of the Chenla Empire which predated the glories of Angkor. Sail back downstream over lunch for an exploration of the Kampong Cham Area. We travel by bus to the 12th century Angkorian temple of Wat Nokor. This colourful temple is unique in Cambodia, as a modern wat is set within the ruins of an ancient temple. We continue to the twin holy mountains of Phnom Pros and Phnom Srei, or Man and Woman Hills. Legends abound about the origins of these hills, and there are many pagodas and shrines on the hilltops.
Day 7: Tonle River
We glance by the capital Phnom Penh in the early morning to change pilots, and then sail the Tonle River which connects Tonle Lake with the Mekong and Bassac Rivers that merge at Phnom Penh. This river journey is a highlight of the trip. We wind our way through jungle, and as the river narrows we feel we can almost reach out and touch the houses and people who come out to cheer our ship on. Temples abound along the river banks at Kampong Chhnang, and we see the rich tapestry of Cambodian rural life. This is a busy rural port town with bustling markets. Mooring mid-stream, we make a truly wonderful motor boat excursion into the lakeside wetlands that form the mouth of the river. Here a stunning variety of bird life may be seen and of considerable interest are the great fish traps, some half a kilometre long, which net a huge tonnage of fish after each monsoon as the fish migrate from the falling lake into the Tonle River.
Day 8: Tonle Sap
The great lake dominates Cambodia and is over 150 Km in length. Here bird life is profuse, and from the middle of the lake one cannot even see the shores. There is a great stillness and tranquility as we pass floating fishing villages. Because the water levels of the lake and river vary a great deal according to the time of year and rainfall, we will then either:
1. High water, approximately July – November. Cross the Tonle Lake at dawn and disembark at Siem Reap Port for onward coach transfer to the Angkor Century Hotel
2. Low water, approximately November – March. In the early morning depart by speedboat and disembark at Siem Reap Port for onward coach transfer to the Angkor Century Hotel
3. No water, approximately March to July. In the early morning depart by coach from Phumi Prek Chik Village on the Tonle River, stopping for sightseeing at Angkor Thom to see Prem Srei Kuk temples, arriving by midday at Angkor Century Hotel.
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