Today we needed to get from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng so we booked the supposed 5hr trip in with an airconditioned minivan. After being picked up by a tuk tuk, ferried around town jamming in other people and their luggage, we finally arrived at the bus station. We were then stuffed into the minivan where Luke and I were only able to get the unfixed, pull-down extra seats.
We caught a long boat along the river and across Tonle Sap Lake to Battambang. We had to sit on the roof, since we were one of the last on and there were no seats left for us! The journey took about 7 to 8 hours and was really picturesque. We past floating villages where all the kids went mad when they saw us, they were waving and screaming at us. We went past fishermen, floating markets, farmers doing something with their grass, not sure what and even a Buddhist Monastery on stilts in the middle of the lake!
We caught the bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap which took us past many small villages and fields of Rice Paddies with Water Buffalo bathing in them. The people looked poor but everywhere was clean and the countryside was beautiful. What we weren't expecting was Cambodia to be so flat, it seemed as if we didn’t climb a slope let alone a hill on the whole journey.
The Mekong River stretches 2,610 miles from China (on the border with Tibet) through Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and down into Vietnam where it forms the Mekong Delta, with its many subsidiaries. We decided to catch a boat from Ho Chi Minh City to the Mekong Delta.
Ho Chi Minh City formerly known as Saigon sits on the Saigon River. It is a mixture of old colonial French Buildings and new skyscrapers with modern shops. It has a buzz about it and as you walk the tree lined streets you can't help but like the city, it has a nice feel about it and the people are really friendly.
We caught, I am pleased to say, a day bus to Dalat which is in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. The scenery on the way was beautiful. We drove through mountain passes and many villages. Just as we got to the out skirts of Dalat we were surprised to see a mass of plastic greenhouses as far as the eye good see. It looked quite ugly and certainly not what we were expecting.
We caught the overnight bus to Nha Trang, only 12 hours! We arrived at 6 am and had to walk about a mile to our hotel, but it was along the coast road and reasonably cool so it wasn't too bad. We couldn’t believe how many people were up and exercising on the beach at that time of day, all locals of course.
We had booked a two day trip to Halong Bay from Hanoi which is seemingly a "not to be missed" attraction in Vietnam. Unfortunately out trip got cancelled due to a cyclone which was due to hit the following day. Our hotel advised us that all tours had been cancelled and that they didn't expect us to be able to go for at least another 3 days. We didn’t want to spend any more time in Hanoi so caught the overnight bus to Hue.