Leaving Brisbane 23:35, so not much of the trip today
6-feb mon - Hanoi
Free breakfast and wifi in singapore airport
Arr Ha Noi
Many motor scooters
Homes are 3&4 storey affairs on tiny land blocks (40 sq
m, really 1 room wide) because communist govt lets you lease
a piece of land which is very tiny. I think bigger in the
country, bt farm blocks allocated were still too small to
usefully farm. You can own a house, and there are
multi-generations in the house. Saigon tour guide had his
100yr old grandmother, his parents, wife and kids in his
7 feb tue - Food tour with miss Moon
Food tour with miss Moon
Rice crepes made on street - pot of boiling water with silk
net stretched over, rice mixture spread over thinly,
covered, move over to second pot where same happening and
peel off perfect fine rice crepe, where other lady rolls the
spring roll mix into the fresh crepe. Repeat
Weasel coffee where beans have been through digestive tract
of weasel (gold)
Cafe that has been run by 4 generations over 80 years
Can buy special padded bum enhancers, particularly for your
wedding day. You wouldn't want to be a flat screen TV (no
bust or bum)
People carry goods on sticks over shoulder with trays hung
Huge loads carried on motor bikes and scooters, incl gas
Cross road by just walking slowly across and not stopping.
Traffic moves around you, though usually moving slowly.
Local beer is brewed on the day, is cheap and is only 2%
A restaurant serving dog was pointed out.
Many families live above their shop.
Egg coffee was egg yolk (chicken) whisked with apricot
brandy then coffee is poured through it and the egg froth
floats on the top
Water bottles in yhe sofitel legend were dressed in cloaks
like a vampire
8-feb wed - mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh
Visit mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh where he lies in state. Huge
security. You file past in a line of 2 wide. Huge square in
front, soviet style, lots of guards.
His stilt house
Potted plant gate on rollers
Girls riding side saddle on motor bikes
D walking tour.
The opera where rehearsing story of vietnamese life in a
village, that seemed to be themed around huge bamboo poles
Then military museum
Viet seems to mean people who wield axe, or a bird or both.
One park had motorized cars driven by toddlers
Old Hanoi city was walled, or at least the citadel but must
hVe been 1km square at least
K did water puppet house tour
Hotel rediscovered an air raid shelter under hotel, with a
couple of entrances an multiple rooms. Recording of Joan
Baez made there during a raid in there
Dinner in local restaurant that flambed in cointreau
9-feb thu - to ha long bay
Cemeteries amongst the rice paddies
Houses build in the rice paddies and flooded right up to the
Big coal powered electricity generator, also gas, and
perhaps soon nuclear
Welcome monument for tourists, but locals why spend on that
useless thing when our kids have to get to school by flying
fox across the river (by themselves)
At ha long, there are many unfinished apartment buildings,
probably since gfc
2000 islands in halong bay
500? Passenger ships, though smaller operators struggling
Unemployment in vietnam is 15-20% at moment
Home loans are at 7%, savings accounts 5%
Lady rowed up to boat selling water, soft drinks,
chocolates, wine, beer, almond biscuits, pringles, carved
Afternoon at dark and light caves, but too low light to
enter. M&R kayaked
We on hand rowed boats.
Large ships, coal, oil, gravel (from dredging) used in
Feb 10 fri - halong bay
Walk through limestone caves, 3 chambers
Bridge and engine room tour (2x500hp motors plus 2x250hp
generators, all yanmar)
Kerry does village tour
Feb 11 sat - fly to ho chi minh city
Feb 12 sun - Nui Dat & Long Tan memorial
5 on a motor bike
Through new section 2 on other side of river where huge
apartment blocks and the new rich live
To Nui Dat base remains. SAS control centre hill was
quarried. Nothing much remains except the airstrip, which is
now a road
Long Tan memorial is in a rubber plantation, though trees
were old and bigger in war than they are now which is
pre-milking age 7yrs-20yrs
APT clean the memorial after every visit
All traffic lights have countdown timers for every color
Feb 13 - mon - Saigon city tour
City tour by bus (m&r did by motorbike)
Building was stormed by tank at end of war. 2 tanks are at
1960s building for running govt, so big impressive meeting
rooms and presidential offices and dining rooms.
Large bunker underground for running a war, big on
communications - radio, telex. There was a tty asr33, but no
sign of a computer
Building is a beautiful minimalist design, with very clever
with windows to catch the breeze.
Notre. Dame cathedral made with materials imported from
france, and never bombed.
Many brides being photographed, but apparently this is 2-3
months before the wedding.
Also the post office, with wooden phone booths inside like
in 1960s films. International clocks overhead
Bus to Mekong
Life jacket drill
Feb 14 - tue - local factories and markets
Local boat to Cai Be
Passed overloaded dredges with water over the deck,
deckhands walking on deck under water. Later that still
seemed to be in the channel stopped with water seeping into
the gravel, perhaps sinking?
Cathedral built 1920s?
Factory making popped rice and coating with durian, ginger,
peanut, coconut. Sweets made of boiled coconut milk. Sweets
were cut by hand then wrapped by hand. Women earning $1-2/hr
for pretty tedious work
Snake oil whisky, wish I'd known it was real snake before I
drank it and subsequently saw the snakes
Saw rice paper and rice chips being made, and dried in the
Passed under the Australia bridge ($66m from Australia and
$34m from Vietnam). Crosses the main passage of river, and
to me, is bigger than the gateway bridges. $100m seems cheap
Afternoon, Sa Dec, through local market.
Lots of fruit and veg
Raw meat unrefrigerated
Seafood, much still alive. Buddist fisherman can't kill the
Frogs and rats
Feb 15 wed - factories and village
Last morning in Vietnam was a rickshaw ride to a silk
weaving factory, followed by a rattan mat weaving factory,
then across to one of the islands in the river. This used to
flood every year, but hydro schemes upstream have stopped
that. While the flooding seems to be a pest, they were
mostly set up for it, building their houses on concrete or
wooden stilts 3m off the ground, but now their fields are no
longer refreshed by centimeters of fertile mud each year.
And they are now short of water, though I'd have thought
they could pump it from the adjacent river.
About to leave Vietnam for Cambodia. Been floating on the
border for 3hrs now.
Feb 16 thu - Phnom Penh
Moored in passenger terminal in city, Docked in city this
morning in a branch off the mekong.
City tour, including being stopped by the parliament while
the prime minister and king were driven through the vacated
A lot of very large expensive 4wd, but not many of the tiny
hyundai i10s. Some larger sedans, mostly toyota camry.
Went through a couple of markets.
All seems wealthy, but told it is poorer country than
vietnam. Something isn't quite right.
Morning tuk tuk ride around inner city. They aren't the
custom devices like india or thailand, but more like a
(solid) enclosed rickshaw drawn by a normal motor bike. More
similar to the bicycle drawn ones the other day in Vietnam.
However did see a sedan like a camry converted into a open
attop tuk tuk.
Since 1980s they have just laid new power cables, not
managed existing ones, so lots of power lines.
Motor bike/scooter of choice is honda
Passed monument on hill after who city was named, who was
the king who moved the capital from Angkor Wat to here in
Passed embassies that are quite fortified. Past stadiums and
a huge theatre, that were all empty this morning.
Past housing developments and great wall brand development
that will be 3rd highest building in world.
Passed memorial to cambodia getting independence, then to
the king who negotiated independence. Cambodia in 1800s
asked the french to take over rule rather than be consumed
into thailand and vietnam.
Ended up at central market where we bought sim cards. $8
each for a month.
8 arms from central dome with the nsew cross being under a
large arched ceiling and in between arms covered, but less
impressive. Sections devoted to different things. Centre was
jewelry and watches, one for craft wood and silver, womens
clothes, mens, household goods, fruit and veg, and
Evening walk through evening night markets (with a bit off
known brands), then closing old markets, through a park with
organised workout class and multiple games of foot
shuttlecock with teams of half a dozen each. Back to boat
through a nightclub street.
Feb 17 fri - Tonle Sap river
Left Phnom Penh up the Tonle Sap river to small copper
village of Koh Chen.
Factories here make silverware, though one factory makes
copper and plates it in silver (and also brassware which
isn't plated). Silver plating seems to be drop the copper in
a bath of sulphuric acid and some silver. Some old ladies in
the village in their mid 70s. And visited a school where we
talked in english to the younger school kids, 3 little girls
particularly engaged with Kerry.
Feb 18 Sat - Oudong Buddhist pagoda
Oudong Buddhist pagoda (town/collection of buildings). Got a
Then to village of Kampong Tralach, from which we took ox
carts for 2 back to the river. Locals think it odd, why
would you leave an air conditioned bus?
Feb 19 sun - floating village
River view of Kampong Chhnang port town with markets. The
fruit and veg market is on the low river bank. In flood
season the market is moved higher.
Even though high above the ground on stilts the river level
in flood goes 1m deep through the houses. Some houses are
built on poles that can be extended so can get above the
rising flood level.
Then to the floating village, one of 200 I think he said on
the lake. I think it was 100s of thousands living in these
floating villages. These are generally poor people. They
don't own land, and that may be because a large proportion
are illegal emigrants, and hence can't own land. They are
One side of the river has electricity from the town, but the
other side is dependent on batteries or generators. The
wealthier ones have solar panels to charge batteries,
otherwise it costs a few dollars to exchange for a fresh one
every couple of days. They need electricity to watch
satellite TV, and to charge their phones.
The bamboo used to float the houses lasts a few years.
Others are floated by upside down water pots. Water pots are
also used to hold curing fish paste, so multipurpose.
The to town market,
Eggs with embryos
- Wine made from sugar from palm, which is only one day
old, else turns to vinegar
- Betel leaf, with betel nut (different plant), with
paste made from burnt crushed snail shells is chewed
(with tabacco too?) (by women mostly as social activity,
though mostly older women these days)
- Various medicines
- Snails for eating (after treatment with sun and
- Water beetle
Feb 20 mon - Angkor Thom
- big heads
- Relief showing building of Angkor Wat
- Bayon temple
Feb 21 tue - Angkor Wat, Tomb raider temple, ODA school
- Was built as hindu
- Converted to buddhist
- Later many of the buddhas decapitated
- Build of perfect north/south/east/west alignments
Ta Prohm temple
- Tomb raider temple
- Seems hindu, but outer gates had big faces which I thought were buddha
Opportunities for development through art
- Children did a long and complicated dance for us
- Shown around the school/accommodation by Sunshine
- One classroom with desks for general teaching and another room with a couple of laptops
- Kitchen combined dining room, though maybe the performance area was dining
- Boys accommodation behind with bunks 3 high and half a dozen across with opposite wall wardrobe/boxes for them all
- Girls upstairs, fewer bed (2 high?)
- Sleeping 2-3 to a bed
- Solar water heater, power?. Hydroponic herbs and veges in back of performance area
- Sunshine is on the cover of the flyer, aged 3. She is now 14. Plannin g on being an english teacher.
- Bought a couple of her paintings
- Kerry brought lego for them, and seemed to go down well with some kids.
Feb 22 wed - outer suburbs
Horse cart ride from an outer suburb to the country, except that it is the current housing development area. Eventually got to rice fields, and water buffalo. Some new houses are built with big walls with big gates, security and guard dogs
Afternoon, old market, pub st for lunch and artisan complex in afternoon.
Feb 23 thu - Siem Reap
We went to a museum this morning to early afternoon, and came back to the hotel for lunch since the museum cafe had only drinks. The museum was of Cambodia and previous tribes from about 1000ad to 1400ad
Mary and Randall had booked a tuk tuk and a guide for the day, which sounds extravagant but was only costing them $60. Anyway, while we were at lunch, a big thunderstorm passed through bringing down some small trees and dumping a lot of rain.
Feb 24 hotel20170224