Carried Away

Comments (0) Travel

The magificent Mekong Delta has had a remarkable history: burying grounds of millions who fell to Pol Pot’s genocide, scene of the deaths of thousands of soldiers lost in Vietnam – and today, writes Travel Editor Susie Boswell, a peaceful pathway plotting much of Indochina’s fascinating culture.

This year marks half a century since geopolitical events at the close of the Kennedy era exploded from an ominous post-World War II build-up into what became the full-blown ’60s and ’70s war in Vietnam.

The former French-ruled colony has held a special, often terrible, fascination for Aussies ever since our troops first took part in the brutal clash between North and South Vietnam, now 45 years ago. Similarly, neighbouring Cambodia has a certain mystique, born of wide reporting here – prompted by our heightened awareness of the region – of the brutal subsequent Khmer Rouge atrocities in what was then known as Kampuchea.
Today, all is so different. The mighty Mekong River running through the Indochinese nations no longer runs red. Peaceful, traditional, life has returned to its banks.
A unique week-long cruise through the Mekong Delta passing from intriguing Cambodia on into Vietnam takes off from Sydney in early March. The vessel that will carry a cosy maximum of just 60 travellers in 30 cabins along a course of exotic and amazing experiences is a replica of the historical river steamers widely used in the French colonial era.
In all, the package covers 11 nights: seven nights aboard the steamer Indochina Pandaw, sailing on March 6 from Siem Reap (Angkor) to Ho Chi Minh City’s My Tho port (Saigon), with two nights twin-share pre-cruise at the deluxe Raffles Grand d’Angkor in Angkor and two nights post-cruise at the deluxe Caravelle Hotel in Saigon.
The price, from $5999 for the first passenger and a low $1399 for the second passenger sharing a cabin, subject to availability, includes return economy flights from Australia with breakfasts daily, daily sightseeing with expert local guides, and all transfers.
The seven-night Indochina Pandaw cruise includes all breakfasts, selected lunches and dinners, local beer, spirits and soft drinks on board, daily shore excursions including by sampan, local ferries and trishaws, and 5-star service.
Highlights along the way include a visit to the world’s biggest temple, Angkor Wat, floating markets, sightseeing French colonial buildings and an 1875’s monastery, a traditional brick and tile factory, Cambodia’s Silver Pagoda, museums highlighting Khmer culture, temples, a silk-weaving village, and Angkor Thom with its famous Elephant Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King.
There is also an opportunity for a moving “killing fields” visit in Phnom Penh – and, by contrast, the chance to dine at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in the Cambodian capital. Indochina Pandaw is a faithful replica of the river steamers of the colonial Irrawaddy Flotilla Company that burned all 600 of its vessels in the 1940s to prevent them being used by the advancing Japanese Army. The 30-cabin vessel features promenade decks with cane furnishings, teak woodwork, brass fittings and large cabins – giving guests the feeling of holidaying aboard a private motor yacht … rather than a commercial cruise vessel.
I think the price is a good one: knock off a notional $1200pp for return airfares and the freight works out at less than $230pp a day including tours and many meals. For detailed itineraries from Angkor to Saigon or vice versa, other sailing dates, and a list of 200 cruise-specialist travel agencies, visit www.cruising.com.au, contact Cruiseco Concierge on 9492 8520 or 9492 8506, email concierge@cruising.com.au or contact a Cruiseco travel agent. Build-up into what became the full-blown ’60s and ’70s war in Vietnam.The former French-ruled colony has held a special, often terrible, fascination for Aussies ever since our troops first took part in the brutal clash between North and South Vietnam, now 45 years ago. Similarly, neighbouring Cambodia has a certain mystique, born of wide reporting here – prompted by our heightened awareness of the region – of the brutal subsequent Khmer Rouge atrocities in what was then known as Kampuchea.Today, all is so different.
The mighty Mekong River running through the Indochinese nations no longer runs red. Peaceful, traditional, life has returned to its banks.A unique week-long cruise through the Mekong Delta passing from intriguingCambodia on into Vietnam takes off from Sydney in early March. The vessel that will carry a cosy maximum of just 60 travellers in 30 cabins along a course of exotic and amazing experiences is a replica of the historical river steamers widely used in the French colonial era.In all, the package covers 11 nights: seven nights aboard the steamer Indochina Pandaw, sailing on March 6 from Siem Reap (Angkor) to Ho Chi Minh City’s My Tho port (Saigon), with two nights twin-share pre-cruise at the deluxe Raffles Grand d’Angkor in Angkor and two nights post-cruise at the deluxe Caravelle Hotel in Saigon.
The price, from $5999 for the first passenger and a low $1399 for the second passenger sharing a cabin, subject to availability, includes return economy flights from Australia with breakfasts daily, daily sightseeing with expert local guides, and all transfers.The seven-night Indochina Pandaw cruise includes all breakfasts, selected lunches and dinners, local beer, spirits and soft drinks on board, daily shore excursions including by sampan, local ferries and trishaws, and 5-star service. Highlights along the way include a visit to the world’s biggest temple, Angkor Wat, floating markets, sightseeing French colonial buildings and an 1875’s monastery, a traditional brick and tile factory, Cambodia’s Silver Pagoda, museums highlighting Khmer culture, temples, a silk-weaving village, and Angkor Thom with its famous Elephant Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King.
There is also an opportunity for a moving “killing fields” visit in Phnom Penh – and, by contrast, the chance to dine at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in the Cambodian capital.Indochina Pandaw is a faithful replica of the river steamers of the colonial Irrawaddy Flotilla Company that burned all 600 of its vessels in the 1940s to prevent them being used by the advancing Japanese Army. The 30-cabin vessel features promenade decks with cane furnishings, teak woodwork, brass fittings and large cabins – giving guests the feeling of holidaying aboard a private motor yacht … rather than a commercial cruise vessel.I think the price is a good one: knock off a notional $1200pp for return airfares and the freight works out at less than $230pp a day including tours and many meals.
For detailed itineraries from Angkor to Saigon or vice versa, other sailing dates, and a list of 200 cruise-specialist travel agencies, visit www.cruising.com.au, contact Cruiseco Concierge on 9492 8520 or 9492 8506, email concierge@cruising.com.au or contact a Cruiseco travel agent.
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+

Leave a Reply