After my hectic 7-day trip in Vietnam, which I spent most part of it outside of the country’s cosmopolitan areas, to no escape I had to pass through one of Vietnam’s busiest cities – Ho Chi Minh (formerly Saigon) to prepare for the much-awaited Mekong River cruise. The Mekong River is one of the world’s famous and most reminiscent waterways. The river runs from China through five other countries: Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, and is considered as their lifeblood.
I departed from the bustling Ho Chi Minh City and off to the tranquil Siem Reap via the Mekong River. During this part of my journey, I will share with you my 8-day cruise adventure. I am also very proud to feature APT (Australian Pacific Touring) who graciously offered full sponsorship of my 8-day luxury cruise. For more information of their product offerings, please visit http://www.aptouring.com.au.
I made arrangement with APT to meet me at my hotel, Tan Hai Long 3 to drop me off at the pick-up point, which is the Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers. From the Sheraton to My Tho Port was another 70 km drive via highway 1. It took us approximately an hour and 30-minute to reach to the port. The drive along highway 1 was scenic, as you will see the verdant rice fields in both roadsides. Motorbikes at this point of the highway were not allowed. The most interesting part of the drive was the private graveyards in their own garden or rice fields. These are common scenes and practices in Vietnam.
We finally arrived at the port at 1.30 pm. After registration, passengers were allocated to a group. There were three groups altogether and each group was assigned with a color: orange, green and blue. Each day, however, you will be given an opportunity to move to another group. I joined the blue group with Phiem as the designated tour guide. We all boarded on the luxury vessel, RV La Marguerite oozed with comfort, elegance, and style. The interiors and décor of the vessel’s cabin is one of its best features. Cabin rooms were spacious and equipped with flat screen TV and DVD player (which is ideal to watch your own video or from the library selection). The bed was comfortable and the bathroom was very clean and tidy. The closet/wardrobe was of good size and safety deposit box was also available.
On board, you will have the best-selected decorous and gracious crew, and the opportunity to savour the finest Vietnamese and Cambodian cuisines.
Lunch was served buffet style at 1415 hrs. There was a dedicated corner within the restaurant section where an actual cooking and preparation of local traditional cuisines was happening. White and brown bread was available on board. And to no surprise, there is also a section for vegetarian cuisines, which made me very happy. There was a wide selection of salads, hot meals, dessert, fruits, cakes, local dessert, cheese and crackers. Beverages were included, composed of regional wines, beers, spirits – vodka, gin, whisky and rum. Australian and international wines and cocktails were also available at a very affordable price.
At exactly 1600 hr the cruise left at the My Pho Port. And around 1800 hr Minh, the Cruise Manager provided us the detailed information, including exciting notes as to what to expect from the trip.
The day just went by fast that after taking a quick nap, I noticed that dinner was already about to be served. At 1915 hr, everyone started gathering at the Mekong Restaurant (main dining hall of the vessel). Welcome dinner was served a la carte style, which consisted of an entree, soup and the main course (3 selections and a vegetarian dish). Dessert and a choice of coffee/tea were served at the end.
After the dinner, an announcement was made of a show happening at 2115 hr at the Saigon Lounge. It was a fantastic and entertaining show. Tour Guides did a combined performance with the local artist. Local artist who were beautifully dressed in their local customes performed some folk music using a selection of local musical instruments. It is surprising to know that some of these local artists work in the farms during the day and perform during nighttime. One of the interesting instruments they played is a known traditional instrument called đàn bầu (an electric single string guitar played with a pick) during nighttime. The entertainment was an awesome thing to end on the first day of this adventure.
I look forward to witnessing more of the natural beauty and rich history beyond the banks of this mystical river. Day 2 of this trip will feature my most daring taste of the Vietnamese snake wine, known as the ‘Vietnamese Viagra.’ Stay tuned.
© 2012 by Michelle Riel, retains sole copyright to her contributions to all the contents of this site.