(Continued from last week- Part 4 Trekking into 2010)
Republished Feb 2012
It wasn’t a particularly arduous walk that we faced on our second day of trekking, but having set off at 8am it was with joy that our guide Saw’s words “not far now” were met, four hours later.
A boat was waiting for us at Inde ready to take us to Nyaungshwe where we would be staying during our Inle Lake experience. After so much land it was wonderful to see water!
For most tourist visitors to Laos, Luang Prabang is the only game in town. Direct flights from various cities in Asia mean visitors can even bypass the charming capital city of Vientiane in their rush to reach what is admittedly one of the most stunning towns in the region, leaving the rest of the country still largely untouched by tourism.
Coming to Vietnam & want to avoid the touristy stuff? Or coming back for a repeat visit & want to do something different? Here’s our list of 30 fun & non-touristy things to do in Vietnam…
After living in South East Asia for the past five years, the idea of visiting somewhere cool or even chilly at night had become something of an obsession. Mondulkiri would have done the trick, if only it had been more accessible. Although it’s always felt very remote, this is an area that has fascinated me since my first day in Cambodia and I have wanted to visit ever since.
We wanted somewhere fairly relaxed at the start of our 3 month trip to unwind after the hectic few weeks we had in the UK prior to our departure. Of all the spots I had researched, Lazy Beach looked like it might be the ticket. A private section of beach, rented from the government and kept tidy by the local staff, wooden bungalows and just a couple of hours boat ride from Sihanoukville on the Cambodian coast.
I arrived at Tan Son Nhat alone. It was humid, I was tired and it was winter. Bus 152 (50 cents a ticket) stood parked beneath an arch, slightly beyond and to the right of the plethora of people gathered outside the terminal building. Denying I was American to the same woman thrice, I watched new streets become familiar through the dirty window. After more than 13 hours I was finally in Vietnam.
After three weeks in Phnom Penh, I began to feel the very urgent need to flee the city’s constant cacophony of horns, the choking pollution, the routine of research/write/Tweet/repeat.
A friend had recommended a stay at The Vine Retreat, an eco-lodge tucked away in the rice paddies of calm, coastal Kep province. Coincidentally, a $10/night promotion popped up just as my laptop sputtered, protested weakly, then ultimately crashed. Technology agreed that I needed a break.
The BBC (as part of its tie-in with Lonely Planet) recently published its list of the World’s Best Cycling Routes, featuring such pleasant & scenic rides as County Clare in Ireland and Luberon/Mont Ventoux in France. But my eyebrows were considerably raised by their number 10 selection – Vietnam’s Highway 1!
The trip from Phnom Penh to Chau Doc (Vietnam) is one of the most fascinating and beautiful river journeys in South East Asia. The first time I traveled to Cambodia was by this route and arriving in Phnom Penh by boat at sunset, catching my first glimpse of this foreign city from the Mekong is a memory I will always treasure. In the distance I could see the rooftops of the Royal Palace sparking in the sunlight, the smoke rising up from the incense burning at Preah Ang Dong Ker, the vibrant Phnom Penh riverfront and I instantly fell in love.
"We were meant to be driving from London to Mongolia in the smallest rustbucket of a car we could find. Unfortunately, we only managed to get as far as Kazakhstan."
This is a random sample of the kind of talk on offer at one of Phnom Penh's Couchsurfing Group's weekly meet ups.