Having never been to any Asian countries I was in for a treat, lucky enough to be visiting Cambodia and Vietnam on an intrepid tour. Well what an eye opener that turned out to be, before leaving the country I had various vaccinations and had a well stocked suitcase of liquid hand sanitizer and mosquito spray. We flew into Singapore had a few hours there which was easily filled as we buzzed around the four different terminals on the monorails checking out what each had to offer from huge indoor waterfalls to great shoe stores and eating areas, to ourdoor swimming pools and transit accommodation. Then onto Siem Reap, bit of a journey from the airport to our accommodation but lots to look at on the way in. Lots of friendly smiling faces where ever you look, very poor people but very happy people going about their daily chores. One thing I did notice straight away was the amount of people you can get onto one scooter!! Who knew you could comfortably fit a family of six on a little scooter and with no helmets! Our accommodation had an outdoor pool which everyone took full advantage of after long days visiting various temples and lots of walking around in the humid weather. The night markets at Siem Reap are a must and a bit of a tourist haven, lots of bargains to be had without feeling the pressure to buy something from pushy stall people. Also an opportunity to put my feet into a small swimming pool sized area filled with (dr fish) was not to be missed, for $3 USD I got to sit there for half an hour flinching and squirming while the fish took care of the unwanted not needed worries that had attached themselves to my feet after a long day on my feet – it’s not for everyone….. Agreed…. but I just had to give it a go! Lots of little nick nacks t-shirts scarfs arts and crafts to buy all at reasonable prices. Being part of a group tour and with a local leader I found really useful as they can provide you with lots of local knowledge and how much you should be paying for tuk tuks and which areas to stay away from how to pronounce things properly, also things like what to wear when you’re visiting temples. They do have clothes for hire at various places if you are wearing the wrong thing but with a local leader you can save yourself a lot of time and money. After three days in Siem Reap we headed off to Phnon Penh with a stop along the way at one of the local roadside markets where we were given the opportunity to hold tarantulas and sample some of the local cuisine - deep fried spiders and crickets and lots of fresh pineapple. I of course had to sample the lot much to the surprise/disgust of most of the others on the bus as there were only a few of us brave enough to give it a go. While in Phnon Penh we visited the Genocide Museum and also the killing fields, again with a local tour guide who has so much knowledge on the area and what went on. After a very emotional day it was great to be able to come back to the hotel refresh and then head off down the road to get a foot and back massage for all of US$10.00, for an hour’s worth of pampering it was well worth it and very much needed. The views from a 6th story local bar provided a great way to get our bearings and watch the locals go about their business below. For the ladies there is a great silk shop in Phnon Penh which has some beautifully made hand bags and all sorts of other bits and pieces, you’ll find it hard to choose just one.
From Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Min via Chau Doc, zooming down the Mekong delta watching how the locals live off the land and how nothing goes to waste, again with big smiles on their faces nothing seems to be a problem for these people. Whilst in Ho Chi Min we visited the Ben Thanh market, which for me was a little overwhelming there was so many things crammed into small spaces and so many people and lots of interesting smells, the only purchase there was a small hand fan to keep the smells away an