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TRIP TO VIETNAM AND CAMBODIA OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER 2012

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Our plan was to fly to Hanoi a day early to try to adjust to the seven hour clock change.  The trip got off to a bad start when Japan Air postponed our flight 24 hours.  Oh well, the best laid plans, etc.  We were only in Hanoi for a couple of days.  We visited Ho Chi Min's tomb (he was out for maintenance) as well as his office.  The most excitement we had was riding in cyclos, one passenger carriages with a driver for a tour of the colonial area.  Traffic was chaotic. We went to the infamous prison "Hanoi Hilton" where John McCain's flight suit is on display

We flew from Hanoi to Siem Reap, Cambodia, which exists as a base for exploring Angkor Wat and other temples in the area.  Angkor Wat did not disappoint but the most spectacular temeple is at Ta Prohm where giant trees appear to be eating the buildings. Note that we traveled to the temples on an elephant.

A bus ride from Siem Reap lands us in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia where we board the river boat Saigon River, our home for the next week.  We stay in Phnom Penh for a day to soak up the local culture.  Once again the mode of transport is the cyclo, but this turned out to be a real adventure as Pat's driver got lost.  We visited the main temple and the palace.  On the way back Pat's cyclo suffered a broken chain.  Her driver hailed another cyclo and told the replacement driver where to take her.  The waterfront is quite pleasant with many shops including one where you can buy a coffin.

The Mekong delta is full of canals where villages have grown up in both Cambodia and Vietnam.  Life in these places proceeds at a slow place.  There are many waterfront markets selling everything from fresh fruit to skinned rats.  There is some industry on the river banks such as tile making.  Note the brick kilns.  We met lots of kids along the way and they are charmers.

A visit to the Killing Fields is sobering.  The  Pol Pot regime executed two million people, 25% of the population.  A mmemorial has been established where bones can be seen in the mass gravesites.  Photos of some of the victims are on display.

Saigon appears to be approaching first world status, with new  shopping malls springing up, featuring all the prestige French and American brands.  The post office and Catholic church were designed by M Eiffel of tower fame, and reflect the glories of French colonial days.  Getting across the street in Saigon is a real challenge as there is a constant stream of motorbikes to address.  The idea is to start walking at a steady pace without stopping and the bikes will go around you.  We tried it a few times, but it is very nerve-wracking .  A few miles north of Saigon are the Cu Chi tunnels, used by the Viet Cong during what is locally referred to as the "American War"  We attended a Vietnamese water puppet show and found it to be very entertaining.