Words by Janet Dalley
Phil and I recently returned with our group of adventurous travellers from Vietnam and Cambodia. This was the first tour since 2019 and the first overseas travel for some of us since then so the mood was excitement tempered with a little trepidation!
On arrival in Hanoi we were met by our local guide Jack, who proved to be excellent at his job educating us on life in Ho Chi Minh and the official hierarchy of the country. He was happy to go over and above expectations, generous with his time and sharing his very interesting life story and that of his parents, whose lives were changed forever by the war. The Vietnamese people’s way of life, their beliefs, values and ancestor veneration as part of everyday life is very different to our own, and our visits to the many temples local and ancient showed they are a thriving centre of every community.
Hoi An was a delight with the beautiful Japanese built covered bridge and the famous lantern festival combined with the restored architecture, homemade silk, expert tailors, delicious noodles and seafood. What an experience it was wandering through the colourful stalls and tasting exotic fruits for the first time such as the famous durian and jackfruit!
The cuisine of Vietnam and Cambodia was a constant highlight full of distinctive perfectly balanced flavours salty, sweet, sour and hot, full of fresh herbs and spices from the roadside street-food stand to the high end restaurants. It was all delicious!
Our Pandaw Classic Mekong River Tour took us across the border and into Cambodia. The preparation of Cambodian visas into our passports prior to departure made the process simple and painless and is to be recommended. Sailing upstream through the Mekong River Delta enables a real sense of local life as the river families go about their life and work in fish farms and floating markets as they have for centuries. Visiting the many places of interest in Phnom Penh was made more enjoyable and thrilling by Cyclo, in fact the use of rickshaws and tuk tuk’s increased our insight and filled every sense with the sounds, sights and smells of that particular locality! We even experienced an ox cart ride through villages markets and temples along the riverside back to our river boat.
There was opportunity to visit The Killing Fields and Genocide Museum, a sobering, permanent memorial of the shocking atrocities during the rule of the Pol Pot in the 1970’s. On reflection so many highlights… another I must mention was a visit to Angkor Ban village school, we took books for the school library and were rewarded with such enthusiasm and excitement and singing in Cambodian and English. We learnt how silk is produced from mulberry bushes to worms to cocoons from an expert! The traditional process is passionately protected and helps support local community life in many areas.
The temples of Angkor Wat Ta Prohm and Angkor Thom are a must see each different in its own way dating back to the 11th century. Then we had the chance to see these again when you take an early morning tethered hot air balloon ride for a bird’s eye view of Siem Reap and the surrounding countryside! A farewell dinner and traditional costume dance show in Siem Reap concluded our Cambodian experience.
This is just a taste of our most recent small group tour where our guests relaxed in the knowledge that Travel Makers were taking care of every detail allowing complete enjoyment of their holiday.
From Rob, Kingston ACT
“Travelling to Vietnam & Cambodia with Travel Makers in November 2022 was a wonderful way for me to get back into overseas travel post Covid. My previous trip with Phil & Jan Dalley was to Sri Lanka in 2017. That was a fantastic trip, and so I looked forward to VietCam with eager anticipation, and I was not disappointed.
Travel Makers took care of all the planning and admin, so that I could devote all my attention and energy to the adventure and pleasure of travel to exotic destinations. As a single person, I enjoy the conviviality of travelling with a small group and my fellow travellers were excellent company. I also feel very safe and secure in an escorted group. The entire trip was excellent from my perspective and great value for money. Fascinating places, excellent accommodation, delicious food and a variety of interesting activities. I just love experiencing and learning about new people and places and cultures. Travel Makers tours are a great way of making that happen.”
From Elizabeth Reading, England
“I have recently returned from a small group private escorted tour of Vietnam and Cambodia organised by Phil Dalley at Travelmakers. Every aspect of it was excellent from the booking process right through to the conclusion of the tour. Against the very difficult background of ongoing covid restrictions and uncertainty, Phil dealt with all my questions in a patient and timely manner, and nothing was too much trouble. I was able to enjoy every aspect of my holiday knowing that I had the support of Travelmakers throughout and I will not hesitate to use them again or recommend them. A massive thank you!”