Asia - Indochina

These albums are from a tour of Vietnam, Cambodia and Bangkok, Thailand in February and March 2016.

It was a great trip seeing the ancient and more modern history of these countries, amazing landscapes and scenery, and the people we met were friendly and interesting.

>> click on an Album Thumbnail to open the Foto Album <<

Formerly Saigon, the largest city in Vietnam has much history including having been a French colony and a significant role in the Vietnam war. It was founded in 1698 and renamed Ho Chi Minh City in 1976.

It is very colourful at night and, as you will see by the photos, I was fascinated with all the scooters and their versatility. Our guide said there are 8 million people and 5 million scooters.

Also in this album are a few fotos of a day trip to the Củ Chi Tunnels. This 75-mile long complex of tunnels was instrumental to the Viet Cong in the gruesome 1960’s Vietnam War.

Mỹ Tho is in the heart of the Mekong Delta with its vast rice fields and beautiful landscapes. Mỹ Tho was founded in 1680s by Chinese refugees fleeing China. There are many scenic and interesting islands on the Mekong River that are fun to visit.

On the way from Ho Chi Minh City, stopped at the Vinh Trang Pagoda which has several enormous Buddhas and an impressive temple. Built in 1849 by a Buddhist monk named Hue Dang .

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hội An Ancient Town on the Thu Bồn River is an exceptional example of a South-East Asian trading port dating back to the 15th century. Buildings and streets reflect indigenous and foreign influences.

Hội An's is also famous for its handcrafted lanterns which are a real treat to see at night.

Recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site, it contains many Hindu temples constructed between the 4th and 14th century AD by the kings of Champa and dedicated to worship of the god Shiva. It was a palce of religious ceremony for kings of the ruling dynasties of Champa and a burial place for Cham royalty and national heroes.

The site once had over 70 temples and many stone slabs with historically important inscriptions but the majority was destroyed by US carpet bombing during a single week of the Vietnam War.

An interesting place to spend an afternoon.

Huế was the imperial capital from 1802-1945. The 19th-century Citadel which is surrounded by a moat includes the Imperial City with its palaces and shrines as well as the Forbidden Purple City, once the emperor's home and seat of Nguyen Dynasty emperors. Made a UNESCO site in 1993, there are many historical areas around Huế including the Tomb and Palatial Retreat of Emperor Tự Đức.

During the Vietnam War, significant damage was done to the Imperial City. Of 160 buildings, only 10 major sites remain.

It rained the entire time I was there so the fotos are a bit “moody”.

Founded in 1010, Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam and the country's second largest city with a population of 8 million people.

From 1954 to 1976 it was the capital of North Vietnam and became the capital of the unified Vietnam in 1976 at the end of the Vietnam War.

One of the most interesting things for me is the rather colourful Old Quarter where people eke out a living with shops specializing in all manner of things.

Hạ Long Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site whose name literally means “descending dragon” bay. It covers an area of 1,550 km2 and includes 2,000 islets, most formed out of limestone over a 500 million year period. Research has found evidence of human presence as far back as 18,000 BC.

It is a visually stunning place inhabited by a community of 1,600 people in four fishing villages including Vông Viêng which we visited.

Siem Reap is a resort town noted for its proximity to the Angkor Archaeological Park, a major historical tourist attraction. It is a small town whose main attraction, for me, is the Old Market.

One has to feel for the Cambodian people who have had a difficult history including the horrible genocide carried out by the Khmer Rouge from 1975 thru 1979. During that time, one quarter of the 8 million Cambodia people were killed by the regime.

The people are friendly and quite resilient in adapting to their environment and situation.

Angkor Archaeological Park spans 400 square kilometres and contains magnificent remains of several capitals of the Khmer Empire of the 9th to 15th centuries. Most famous Temples are Angkor Wat, the Bayon Temple at Angkor Thom with its many sculptured heads and decorations, and Ta Prohm where one of the Tomb Raider movies shot.

The Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992 and placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger due to looting and other issues. It is a fascinating place to visit.

Designated a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1997 due to its biodiversity - over 300 species of fresh water fish plus snakes, crocodiles, tortoises, turtles, otters and more than 100 varieties water birds including storks and pelicans.

In dry season it covers 3,000 square kilometers, depth of 2 meters. During monsoon season, water flowing from the Mekong expands the surface to 10,000 square Kilometers and a depth of 14 meters.

The 1 million+ people living in the Tonlé Sap area make their living by fishing and agriculture. I found it quite inspirational how these hard-working people have adapted to their difficult environment.

Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and dates back to the 15th century. The Bangkok Metropolitan Region has a population of 14 million and the city spans 608 sq miles in the Chao Phraya River delta.

It is a city of contrasts. With over 580 high-rise buildings, it is ranked number 5 in the world yet many of its people live in dilapidated houses along its many canals. It has many marvels of wealth from bygone days including Wat Traimit that houses a 5 ½ ton Golden Buddha, Wat Pho which houses 150 ft long Reclining Buddha, and the Grand Palace grounds that seem to have come directly from the pages of a book of fairytales.

The flower and vegetable markets and Khlong (canal) boat cruises were among my favourite things in the city.

The Maeklong Railway Market, is an open air vegetable, fruit and fish market where the vendors’ stalls are right up against the tracks of an active railway line. When the trains come through, the vendors move their stalls and awnings out of the way and then put them back when the train has passed … a very efficient process. The train did not come through while I was there but you can find several videos on www.YouTube.com. Search for “Maeklong”.

The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is the floating market you see in most Bangkok postcards. Locals from the area paddle their boats with their goods - vegetables, fruits and food vendors who prepare food right from their boats. It is chaotic, colourful and fun.

Both markets are about 100 kilometres west of Bangkok.

Also in this album is a visit to a coconut sugar farm where sugar is created for authentic Thailand sweets and desserts.