Sandra Scott Travels: On A River Cruise It’s one ‘Kodak Moment’ after another

Cambodian dancer

Cambodian dancer

Last week I asked: What is the most enjoyable way to get to Vietnam from Cambodia?

On a Pandaw cruise.

Pandaw sun deck
The Pandaw sun deck

There is something sublime and magical about a river trip.

I feel like I am part of a “National Geographic” special as I cruise pass one vignette after another.

The Mekong is the 12th longest river in the world and borders many countries.

John and I have taken a river cruise on the Mekong between Laos and Thailand.

This time, we boarded the RV Mekong Pandaw in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on the Tonle Sap, a branch of the Mekong.

The cruise vessel is a teak and brass replica of a colonial steamer.

Children bath time
Children bath time

The Pandaw Company can trace its origins to the famed Irrawaddy Flotilla Company making it 150 years in operation.

The 200-foot RV Mekong Pandaw can carry 48 passengers but there were only 18 on board.

Our cabin was roomy, a fairly large bathroom and, best of all we could sit on the walkway in front of our cabin enjoying one “Kodak Moment” after another.

All the shore trips, Wi-fi, meals (which were wonderful and varied), libations, and tips were included in the price.

There were already some passengers on board as the cruise had started in Siem Reap, near historic Angkor Wat.

Cambodian dancer
Cambodian dancer

The first evening we were treated to a wonderful Cambodia folkloric show.

Some of the dances were beautiful, others playful and they included the traditional bamboo dance.

From Phnom Penh we cruised to the Mekong and the Cambodian-Vietnamese boarder.

The staff took care of formalities at the border crossing.

The vessel idled in the river while small boats transported documents from one onshore official to another and then we were on our way.

There was a fruit carving demonstration and the chef showed us how to put together Vietnamese spring rolls.

The Mekong Delta is a huge area and the rice basket of Vietnam.

Lunch time in the village
Lunch time in the village

It is where the Mekong divides into many branches.

One day we visited Chau Don Town via a sampan tour boat.

It is a fishing village where the riverside houses are on stills.

There were stalls selling local handicrafts, a lady weaving, a group of males playing marbles, a lady selling lunch, and up near the road there was a fresh food roadside market and their mosque.

We also visited a fish farm.

That evening we watched (yes, there is an onboard movie theater) “The Lover,” a story based on a book by a French woman and her first love.

It was a bit risqué, to say the least.

Buying treats in Chan Village
Buying treats in Chan Village

The next day, in Sa Dec, we walked along the huge fresh market to the house featured in the movie.

John and I were interviewed by a TV crew about our views of Vietnam.

I think we looked the most foreign!

That afternoon, in Cat Be, we passed by the floating market but most of the marketing is done in the morning.

We visited a place where they were making all kinds of sweets, rice paper, rice whiskey (the more adventurous travelers had a drink of wine that had a snake soaking in it!), popped rice and other treats.

All – save the snake wine – were quite good.

snake wine
Snake wine

That evening we were treated with a Vietnamese folkloric show.

Too soon our cruise was over and on the last morning we were bused to Saigon leaving us to yearning to do more river cruising.

The scenes along the river are fascinating as people go about their daily routine.

Trivia Tease™:  What is the official name of Saigon?

Look for the answer next week.

Sandra and her husband, John, have been exploring the world for decades, always on the lookout for something new and unique to experience. We have sailed down the Nile for a week on a felucca, stayed with the Pesch Indians in La Mosquitia, visited schools in a variety of countries, and — to add balance to our life — stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Let the fun continue!