The term “hearts and minds” was buried somewhere in me and sprang to mind as I was thinking about a title for this blog post. Hearts and Minds refers to a short lived campaign by the United States military during the Vietnam War intended to win the popular support of the Vietnamese people.
On this trip, we will try to shed any assumptions we hold about Vietnam and Cambodia. We will let the countries’ people, landscape, culture, books, and food help to form a deeper and more accurate understanding than we now have.
Vietnam is an incredibly beautiful country with a unique civilization and a highly cultured people. It is remarkable that Vietnam’s rich, ancient culture survived colonial rule and civil war virtually intact. After visits to Hanoi, the up-and-coming capital of the new Vietnam and bustling Ho Chi Minh City (old Saigon), we board the RV Mekong Pandaw for a leisurely cruise up the Mekong River to Cambodia.
Our small ship ( 64 pax. max.) is beautifully crafted, hand finished in brass and teak by traditional craftsmen. While luxury and comfort are discreetly present, it is the colonial character and friendly atmosphere that predominate. The RV Mekong Pandaw has an ultra shallow draft enabling it to travel to remote areas, which would be unreachable by other vessels, let alone overland.
Along the Mekong, in both Vietnam and Cambodia, we will go ashore to experience the distinctive communities that depend on the river for their livelihood. In Cambodia we will see the remnants of the 1970′s reign of Pol Pot’s brutal Khmer Rouge, a variety of villages, monasteries, schools, temples and, of course, the magnificent 12th century temple site, Angkor Wat.
I have never been to either Vietnam or Cambodia and know I am in for surprises all along the way. Here are several among many websites that have informed me and got me salivating. (The photos will enlarge, if you click on them.)
Life along the Mekong River – exquisite photos of the people who live along this beautiful and mighty river.
Ancient Mysteries: Lost City of Angkor Wat – a mesmerizing National Geographic video about Angkor Wat
10 Reasons to Visit Vietnam – self-explanatory
Only two cabins remain on our Mekong River vessel. If you hurry, you can join our merry band. Details here.