Africa, Asia · 27 Days · 34 Moments · June 2017

Herschel treks to Vietnam & Cambodia

13 July 2017

We are finally home after the most incredible trip. Your daughters were amazing ambassadors for Herschel and our country . Thank you for entrusting them to us . You have given them the greatest gift of travel. With love Bronwen and Sue. Ps: one last family pic.
Singapore at 1am. Looking good and perky - staff not so much . 🤣

12 July 2017

After a lovely freshen up at the hotel, we went via the Hanoi Prison which was built by the French . Some scary stuff in there. En Route to the airport, we stopped at Hi Chi Minh's mausoleum- some of the girls were not allowed to walk past his tomb because they had shorts on and sleeveless tops . This rule was not universally enforced which was very irritating . Officious soldiers 😡. It's a sad goodbye to our amazing trip, but we are all looking forward to coming home. Customs this side was slightly hair raising but we made it through. 👍🏻. Waiting to board for Singapore after our last family pic. See you all soon. We missed you . ❤️ Don't forget to fetch us.
An 8 o clock start today as we head to the Temple of Literature built in 1070 and which operated for 700 years as a university. It is the oldest university in Vietnam. Truly a sacred place for the Vietnamese. The Temple of Literature is a Temple of Confucius in Hanoi, northern Vietnam. The temple hosts the Imperial Academy, Vietnam's first national university. The temple was built at the time of Emperor Lý Thánh Tông. An amazing example of how education was treasured in the 11 century.

11 July 2017

A night in Hanoi. Saw the water puppet show - something you should see once. 🤣. Hanoi old quarter is vibrant and busy. Girls did last minute dot com shopping and now settling down to squeeze everything into their bags. Took one of the last family photos outside the theatre 😔before our trek starts tomorrow. Our girls have become excellent at bargaining - watch out parents . 😜
We are safely back in Hà Nội. Had a fabulous cruise this morning after a great nights sleep and super food. This morning some of us headed to a nearby cave to see the Karst formations which for us was more like " that's nice" -reason being is we have the Cango Caves. It was crowded with tourists however. It seems that in the next 4 years you will no longer be able to stay over night on a boat in Halong Bay as the Prime Minister has concluded a deal with the Sun Group who are building hotels along the coast . The sun group want to fill their hotels so the PM will ban overnight stays . Sounds Gupta like 😳. In addition , you are not allowed to swim in the sea off boats again to encourage people to use hotel facilities. The boat people are also being relocated - now only 50 families remain. It's a UNESCO world heritage sight but very controlled by the government here. The locals will get no benefit even though they have been here for a long time . At the hotel now. All well. 😊

10 July 2017

We are cruising on Halong Bay- what an experience to be surrounded by limestone Karst formations . Such a beautiful day. Had a delicious lunch too.
Today is the start of a completely new adventure in Halong Bay. Our drive was interesting . Motorbike with pigs 🐷 on board. 😳En Route we stopped at a cultured pearl farm which was fascinating !!!! Our afternoon looks like this : taking local bamboo boats to the floating market and swimming . Tomorrow a trip to the caves and early morning tai chi at sunrise 🌅. SO EXCITED. Family pics Later if we have wifi.

9 July 2017

An early rise because it's as hot as Hades today. Our morning started at the second last emperor, Khai Dinh's mausoleum. Some Chinese tourists were fascinated by our girls and their blond hair. This was followed by the citadel of Hue and the Thien Mu Pagoda. Thankfully we were able to recover on the Perfume River Cruise. Last packing happening before our final internal flight to Hanoi. Other than it being very hot, we are all well. Looking forward to Halong Bay. 😊

8 July 2017

Our day stated at 12:00 with the first leg of our journey to see the collection of Cham statues at the museum in Danang. It was cooking !!!! Had a wonderful drive from Danang through the Mountain Pass to the small fishing village of Lang Co where we had lunch. Another hour to our hotel in Hue where we will relax tonight. So wonderful to feel safe. In a city . All are well . One or two scraps here and there including one staff member who fell in a ditch cycling on the Mekong and today a cow stood on her foot - it was me !!!
FINALLY made it to the beach at Cua Bai. The sea was so warm. Others went to the market in town and those needing to recharge their batteries chilled at the hotel. At 12:00 we are off to Hue. More later from the awesome tour team.

7 July 2017

Arrived at the shopping Mecca of Hoi An!!! Tonight we are hitting the town. What a picturesque town. WOW!!! I think I may have found the actual Confucius! See if you can spot him in the pics.
After a wonderful day yesterday, we got up at 5am this morning to have breakfast with the family. The trip back to the boat at 6am was on the traditional sampan. The delta is alive with bird life and the sounds of people going about their business. A four hour drive to Ho Chi Minh where we said goodbye to Tang our guide. Waiting to board for Danang.

6 July 2017

And more cooking ....
Homestay Cooking .
Can you believe it. Broadcasting from deep in the delta. What an amazing day. Spent most of the day cruising the delta - had a traditional lunch with mud fish and other delicious dishes. This was followed by a cycle on one of the islands. We are now at our home stay having listened to traditional music and now cooking dinner !! We may go hungry🤣. All are well and we have had an incredible day.
Our day has begun at the Reunification Palace - the place where the war ended. The two tanks were Viet Cong tanks that stormed the Palace Gates.

5 July 2017

And so the Blue team won , followed by the Orange team and in 3rd place green.
An early start took us to the Cu Chi tunnels. We stayed on the paths because the forest is still booby trapped. The network of tunnels underground were incredible and all the girls went into the tunnels. The heat was excessive and the mossies were out in force. The methods used by the Viet Cong were ingenious and no competition the the American forces. The girls were intrigued and really enjoyed their experience. Lunch was at a traditional Vietnamese restaurant. After refuelling, the girls competed in the Discovery Challenge at a large market where they had to complete a number of tasks, including taking 100000Dong and bargaining to get selected items. Our day ended with delicious Vietnamese Coffee and some more night shopping . Alll are well - including the staff🤣

4 July 2017

We had a fairly smooth move from Cambodia to Vietnam. Our guide , Tang is lovely . She took us straight from the airport to the War Remnants Museum an incredibly graphic and harrowing tale of the Vietnam War. A sobering reminder of the cruelty of war. Notre Dame cathedral and the Old Post office are beautiful Examples of French architecture . Each brick for the cathedral was imported from France. The city is vibrant , modern and buzzing - a stark contrast to Phnom Pehn. Amazing to see are the 7.3 million motorbikes in the city . A cheap car costs $45 000 + 120% tax, so everyone rides a bike. Today we had our first taste of the monsoon rain - unreal. Next stop was Fannys ice cream parlour. The most incredible creations were enjoyed by all. Finally ended with a delicious dinner and to bed for our big day tomorrow to the Cu Chi tunnels.
At the Siem Reap airport saying goodbye to Bun our guide and beautiful Cambodia. Watch out Vietnam,here we come .
Sadly we leave Cambodia today and head to Ho Chi Minh city. We have had a leisurely start to the day and are heading to the airport around 11am. Once again , Herschel girls conquered the Night Market last night. Squeals of delight when they returned having bargained their socks off. At Angkor Wat a few girls were outwitted by a 6 year old sobbing on the bridge over to the Temple. Real tears streaming down his cheeks, they comforted him. He said he would feel better if he could have One dollar. Needless to say he cheered up immeasurably after they handed him the dollar. He lifted up his shirt to tuck his dollar away - there were a wad of dollars neatly tucked inside his shirt. And off he went to sucker the next person he could find. 🤣🤣🤣🤣

3 July 2017

Our day started with an incredible breakfast. You can get anything you like ranging from what we consider normal to soups and curries. Our Tuk Turks arrived and en mass, we drove to Ta Prohm Temple, the location of Angelina Jolie's movie Tomb Raider. It is considered a jungle tomb and it has been overgrown by trees. It's hard to believe looking at these pictures that it took 4, yes 4 years to build . From there we had to navigate the locals selling their wares and I have to say our girls' bargaining skills are astonishing! Once back on the tuk tuks we headed to BanteayKdei, a Buddhist monastery from the late 12th century which ended at the Pool of Ablutions. There are traders everywhere trying to eek out a living from trading . You can bargain something down from $45 to $15 by just walking away. I had to remind everyone that we still need to get to Vietnam to shop. Having a 3 hour rest now before heading to Angkor Wat and then the night market again.

2 July 2017

We braved the night market and the girls bargained like champions. Yes, we ate crickets!!! Not bad tasting. Crunchy and quite flavour full. They were a little prickly. I took a bet with these 3. They proved they had #pink blood. #go herschel girls.
Just when you think your trip can't get any better it does. Our day was spent at Angkor Thom dating back to the 12th century and the capital of the Great Khmer Empire. Every stone was carried to this area to build the temple. A bamboo scaffolding was then constructed to lift these enormous stones into position . Thereafter they were carved . The intricacy of detail is hard to capture In a photograph. Surrounding the complex is a moat which took 40 years to dig by hand. Within the complex we spent our time at the Bayon Temple complete with macaque monkeys. The Terrace of the Elephants is spectacular and right next door to the Terrace of the Leper King, Jayavarman VII. The same king had 102 hospitals build within the complex to deal with illness and especially leprosy. Tonight we are heading to a night market which promises to be filled with deep fried tarantula, monkey brains and crickets. The girls are looking perky. Say market and hey presto, they are revitalised. 🤣
Our 5 star hotel, Le Meridien. Very impressive - on our way to see Angkor Thom.
Jet lagged much. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣
All ready to fly to Siem Riep. Everyone is in a different state of consciousness. All well !!! Check in later .

1 July 2017

What an incredible day. We had 2 hours to rest and boom it was back on the bus to the Royal palace . The contrast between rich and poor is staggering . If you want to be rich you need to be in government. There are no social grants!! The palace was incredible and the opulence evident. From the palace we took our lives into our hands experiencing the cyclos of Phnom Penh. We each had a driver and off we hurtled - cars in every direction, bikes too many to count with 3 maybe 4 people on them. After 20 Minutes we arrived at Wat Phnom and watched the Buddhists praying. The heavens opened at our last stop and now we are resting before finding some local cuisine. All is well - girls are loving the Cambodian food. Needless to say we are exhausted and heading out to Siem Riep tomorrow where apparently it's hotter than here .
And 24 hours later and sum, we are here. Our hotel , the Frangipani was a welcome sight. We were gratiously welcomed by Vang our guide and the hotel staff. Looking at the girls, who haven't had much sleep, it's like "dead (wo)man walking ! They are so excited !!!! Heading to the Kings Palace now.
We are at Changi Airport , Singapore. Long flight but Singapore Airlines is superb!!! Everyone is well and happy. No illness 😊. Waiting to catch the flight to Phnom Penh which has had several pronunciations to date. Will check in again later . Your side it's 12:20am ..... sleep tight as our day is about to begin.

30 June 2017

The team assembled to embark on a trip of a lifetime. Watch out Vietnam, here we come. So much excitement and that's just the staff!!! Thank you parents for entrusting us with your poppits .

24 June 2017

Just 6 more sleeps till we leave !

16 June 2017

Dear Girls and Parents, We will be using this app, called Journi to share our travel experience. With two weeks to go, we are getting very excited ! So get logged into Journi , search for Bronwen Parker-Muzzell and follow this "blog" . Mrs. PM