|Angkor Wat at sunrise Luang Prabang from Wat Chom Si, near sunset|
There are many similarities in the culture and society of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam; and then there are differences, genetic and cultural, between peoples within each nation.
An interesting part of polite behaviour in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam is in how one should pass something to, or accept something from, other people. One should use both hands. It is not necessary to hold onto the object with both hands, but the hand that is not grasping the object should at least be touching the other arm. This behaviour is considered more important in a young person passing something to (or acceptiong something from) an older person; less important in the older person. It is a mark of respect to the other person. In fact the local people make allowance for foreigners; they don't expect it from foreigners, and often do not bother using both hands themselves when interacting with foreigners.
Who are we?My wife, Denece, and I were in our late sixties and early seventies at the time of the visit. Younger people would want to do more active things, of which there were plenty: canioning, hiking, etc. What we enjoyed as much as anything was sitting, sipping a coffee or eating a good meal and watching the local people and observing their culture.
I am an early riser.
When on holiday or any other time I usually get out of bed as soon as I
notice daylight, if not before.
In most places this means that I am one of the very few Caucasians out and
about; in Seam Reap this was not so because many made the effort to rise
early to see Angkor Wat at sunrise.
There was not so much use of mobiles in the other three countries, but still a remarkably large amount of use. Not only did city business people carry and frequently use mobile phones, but even tuk-tuk drivers and small farmers in the country.Siem Reap in Cambodia and Luang Prabang in Laos.
I feel more able to advise on what to see in Vietnam, having visited quite a few places and travelled by road or rail almost the whole length of the country. Obviously on the must-see list is Halong Bay, but if you want to see similar karst topography in an area not quite so dominated by tourism the Ninh Binh area is the place to go. Also at Ninh Binh a must see is the huge new Buddhist temple of Bai Dinh. In the vicinity of Ninh Binh, but also not a long way from Hanoi, is the beautiful rural Phu Luong area, where you can get right away from Western tourists. (One place, there must be others, where visits to Phu Luong can be organised is at Xuan Hoa Hotel, Ninh Binh.)
Very touristy, but still very worth-while is Hoi An; great for tailor-made clothes and shoes as well as being a fascinating historical city.
A boat and bus tour of the Mekong Delta shows a part of Vietnam that will be, with the Red River Delta, at great risk with the rising sea levels that will come with climate change.
Finally, one of our favourites is Dalat, at 1500m altitude, is a great place to relax in the relative cool of the Southern Highlands. In Dalat, at the end of the cable car ride, is the beautiful Thien Vuong Pagoda and gardens.
Air and smog
Around Ninh Binh
Food and restaurants (Laos)
Jimmys Village School
Kuang Si Waterfall
Luang Prabang tuk-tuk
Mua Cave and climb
Night market (Luang Prabang)
Pac Du Cave
Phat Diem Cathedral
River of Lingas
Siem Reap: the city
Telephone box coffee shop
Travel and tours
Two day trip to Phu Luong
Use of roads
Wat Chom Si
Wat Xieng Thong