Beginning Saturday morning (Vietnam time), I’ll begin filing reports. We board La Marguerite on Sunday, April 4. Photos of the vessel indicate that we’re in for a treat. Looking at the photos, I’m reminded of the romantic Colonial era (check out the telephone in the photo). Adventure awaits.
Following is our itinerary, beginning April 4, from the AMAWATERWAYS website.
DAY 1, HO CHI MINH CITY (SAIGON), VIETNAM – EMBARKATION
Welcome aboard MS La Marguerite, moored at Saigon port. Check-in at 12:00 noon, followed by port and immigration formalities. After settling in, enjoy the fascinating view of the Saigon River from your private balcony or from the sundeck. You can also enjoy cold drinks in the Saigon Lounge while watching bustling river life pass by. At 2:00 p.m., the ship departs. Tonight, meet your fellow passengers and the crew at the Welcome Dinner in the Mekong Restaurant.
DAY 2, CAI BE – SA DEC
Arrive at Cai Be in the afternoon. After lunch, take a local boat trip around Cai Be to see a floating market, then go ashore to visit a traditional candy-making workshop and rice paper mill. That night, La Marguerite will cruise to Sa Dec.
Noteworthy as the town where the French writer (and our ship’s namesake) Marguerite Duras spent some of her childhood, Sa Dec is a sprawling town on the Mekong Delta. Visit the house of Mr. Huynh Thuy Le, Duras’ Chinese paramour, which is now a small museum. Also visit a local market and Fujian Temple. That afternoon, La Marguerite continues cruising through the Mekong Delta to Tan Chau.
DAY 4, TAN CHAU – BORDER CROSSING
Tan Chau is a remote small town on the main Mekong River. After breakfast, transfer to small boats to visit a catfish farm. Onshore, visit a mat-making workshop, and silk-weaving workshop. After a “xe-loi” (trishaw) ride back to the pier, return to the ship for lunch and cast off for the Cambodian border for the usual formalities. In the evening, cruise up the broad Mekong River, mooring mid-stream just outside of Phnom Penh.
DAY 5, PHNOM PENH – KAMPONG CHAM
Early morning, the ship cruises into spectacular Phnom Penh and docks at the passenger port terminal. A morning tour explores the highlights of Cambodia’s capital city, famous for its French colonial architecture, busy cafes, vibrant nightlife and renovated river “corniche.” Visit the Royal Palace and the magnificent Silver Pagoda. The National Museum is another highlight, with outstanding displays of Khmer crafts. After lunch onboard, another excursion leads to the infamous Killing Fields and the Khmer Rouge’s grim Tuol Sleng or S21 detention center (Genocide Museum) situated in the suburbs of the city. A late evening departure provides the opportunity to dine in one of many nearby restaurants, and experience a taste of Phnom Penh’s vibrant nightlife. DAY 6, KAMPONG CHAM – KAMPONG CHHNANG
This morning, visit the hilltop pre-Angkorian temple of Wat Hanchey, a pagoda overlooking the Mekong. Then, travel by motorcoach to the 12th-century Angkorian temple of Wat Nokor, which has been “fused” with a modern Wat. Continue by motorcoach to an Eco-village. The ship departs in the evening from Kampong Cham to Kampong Chhnang.
DAY 7, KAMPONG CHHNANG – TONLE SAP LAKE
In the morning, take a motor boat excursion into the lakeside wetlands that form the mouth of the Tonle River. The scenery in this area around Kampong Chhnang is a trip highlight, providing in-depth glimpses at local life. Temples abound here, as do numerous floating villages, stunning varieties of bird life, and also great fish traps, some over a half-mile long. Enjoy a leisurely walk around the local market through the city of Kampong Chhnang. DAY 8, TONLE SAP LAKE – SIEM REAP
Your cruise comes to an end as you disembark at Tonle Sap Lake – the great lake that dominates Cambodia and is known for its profuse bird life and tranquil fishing villages. The lake virtually disappears during dry season, draining into the Mekong River.