A Travellerspoint blog

Meandering Up The Mekong

Our first foray into Vietnamese eating....


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After lots of chopping and changing our route we decided the best way to enter Vietnam would be by boat. We wanted to explore the Mekong Delta and our guesthouse offered a range of trips so in the end we booked a two night/three day group tour.

Day one consisted of a four hour boat ride across the border and by early afternoon we rocked up at the shabby looking riverside town of Chau Doc. The tour guide on our boat asked us if we would be willing to talk English to some students and we thought it would be rude not too so after a wander round town (and our first tasty bowl of Pho Ga - chicken noodle soup), a tuk tuk driver picked us up to take us to the night school.

India and I were split into two classrooms and then spent over an hour talking English slightly awkwardly to some young Vietnamese students. I hope they found it useful although I think most of our chat was lost in translation : /
I had a hard time trying to explain the Mercury music prize and at one point I looked into India's class to see her drawing jellyfish on the white board?

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Back at the hotel we met some fellow East Londoners and the tuk tuk drivers took us to their favourite bar in town - a huge pool hall/ bar. We all has some beers with the drivers and then they drunkenly got back on their wheels to race us all back home.

Day two of the cruise, we were woken at 6:30am and taken to see some fish and a floating village. We then drove to the riverside city of Can Tho for the night. We wandered the city and looked at very small-sized clothing in the market.

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We found an amazing street-cafe and cooked our own dinner on a charcoal barbecue. We ordered fresh prawns in chilli and beef in soya bean both of which were served up with a side of okra. The whole thing cost under five quid! Some very nice Vietnamese businessmen on the table next to us asked us to join them and then started offering us all of their food and pouring us endless shots of vodka - which we felt rude not to accept.

Day three we visited a rice noodle market, local orchard and floating market. We stopped for lunch and although the menu included rat, snake and frog options India went for one of the local favourite dishes - a sweet and sour soup with pineapple. We're not too sure if the ants were supposed to be part of the dish?

Posted by aspindi 04:47 Comments (2)

Phnom Pehn

a few days in Cambodia's biggest city

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Gosh darn it! Its been so long since we were in Phnom Pehn I cant remember what we did. Or maybe it was just uninspiring. After all - we didn't leave London in order to go to another city.

Phnom Penh is a big city, but it is definately still Cambodia, red dust everywhere, messy, terrible traffic, sweet but persistent tuk tuk drivers, odd street food and annoying child book-sellers. So we looked around, but lacked the energy (and budget) to go to the Royal Palace, instead we sheltered from a downpour looking at it, witnessed an elephant walking down the road, and then found somewhere to eat.

One thing all visitors must do in Phnom Penh is pay a visit to Tuol Sleng - S21, the Kymer Rouge's war prison created from a high school in the capital city, and combine it with a visit - 15km out of town to the killing fields, one of the many many places the Kymer Rouge took their prisoners to be executed and buried in mass graves. So that is what we did. To save money and be social we shared a tuk tuk with three people we met at our guesthouse (Okay Guesthouse....... it was ok) Frank from Holland, Anida from Germany and Amanda from England. Our plan backfired a little when our combined weight broke the tuk tuk's wheel and we spent an hour on the side of the road waiting for it to be fixed. Still it was an interesting interlude from the somewhat solumn activities of the day!

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Posted by aspindi 03:17 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Retreating to Kep

Our stay at the Vine Retreat

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We decided to treat ourselves to a night of luxury, so we headed to Kep, famous for its crab, and checked into the Vine Retreat, an eco-lodge and organic farm. On arrival our host, the manager Dan, who we had met at Bodhi Villa's famous friday night, drove us all to Kep, a small fishing town famous for one thing.... CRAB! And so we sat down to a delicious late lunch of Kep Crab cooked in green Kampot pepper, overlooking nothing but the ocean. In the evening we relaxed on the balcony of the lodge, reading books, listening to music and sat down to a beautiful home-cooked meal incorporating the farm's home grown tomatoes and morning glory.

We stayed only one night (was a little pricey... we are supposed to be backpacking, not flashpacking after all) and the next day after a tour around the grounds, we hopped in a share taxi all the way to Phnom Pehn.

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Posted by aspindi 20:43 Archived in Cambodia Tagged kep Comments (0)

UPDATE UPDATE!

We are now ONLINE!

I have been getting a little behind on my blog updates and, to my 4 avid readers I sincerely apologise!
Worry no longer though, for as of today me and Jo have a fabulous new mini-laptop. So, updates and photos will soon be up and running, so too will be skyping sessions. Yey! Lets hear it for technology!

Posted by aspindi 04:50 Comments (1)

Relaxing in Kampot

Pepper pepper pepper pepper crab pepper pepper!

all seasons in one day

Our trip gets better the minute we leave Sihanoukville, starting with our minibus trip to Kampot.
Us and another couple were treated to a comfy ride, driven by two very sweet & nice young Kymer men, who on getting close to Kampot asked us if we wanted to see a waterfall as they themselves had never been..... ''ok!'' we replied. So we had a little walk to a waterfall, and saw lots of gibbons sitting around bugging the locals.
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Following the lonely planet's advice we decided to stay at the Bodhi Villa, just outside of town, and from the moment we walked through the door we felt at home. Our days at Bodhi were spent sitting on the deck overlooking the Kampot river, reading books and ordering delicious food and drink from the menu. We hung around with other folks who, like us, arrived and didn't want to leave.
On our first night we walked into Kampot town to look around, about 1km away and had a lovely peppery meal at a place called Ricki Ticki Tavi overlooking the river.
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The next day we signed up for a tourist trip to Bokor Hill Station, a misty cold abandoned outpost, built by the French on the top of Bokor hill. It started out well, a minibus to the base of the mountain, we were then decanted into the back of a pickup truck to proceed uphill. Due to the road quality, or some kind of legal ownership issue (the hill having been recently privatised) part of the deal was a hour and a halk walk up through the forest, led by a gun-toting forest ranger in flip flops and a sweet old tour guide. It was a hot humid walk, but we made it, stopping regularly to listen to the tour guide's story of how he spent his childhood hiding from the Kymer Rouge in the forest, and, after his parents and siblings were killed, living alone for two years following gibbons to find food.

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To cut a long story short - we got to the hill station which was - as decribed in the tourist brochures - a creepy chilling place (pretty cool).

AND THEN IT RAINED! and I mean RAINED!

What proceeded was a miserable three hours of uncomforable wet walking, and pick-up truck riding in the pourrrring rain. And LEECHES!!! (ok, so only one leech actually got me and it was through my sock, but still - I ran around screaming in the forest for a while)

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Safe to say, when we got back to Bodhi Villa, we decided not to leave for at least a day. Plus, it was Friday night, Bodhi Villa's live-music evening and with the owner, Hugh, celebrating the birth of his second child, it was a bit of a party!

Posted by aspindi 01:35 Archived in Cambodia Tagged kampot crab kep bodhi_villa pepper Comments (3)

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