An alternative Christmas and New Year in Cambodia and Vietnam!

 

After celebrating last New Year’s in London, myself and a few friends decided we wanted to do something different for 2012. In the end we all agreed to celebrate Christmas in Cambodia and New Years in Vietnam. Hopefully this blog will help share some of our amazing experiences.

 

Lebua Hotel, Bangkok

Lebua Hotel, Bangkok

Skybar, Lebua

Skybar, Lebua

Lebua Hotel, Bangkok – We kicked off our tour in Bangkok at the incredible Lebua Hotel. The first thing we all did was rush to the skybar, while the girls sipped cocktails and snapped skyline photos, the boys were busy rein acting scenes from hangover 2. The Lebua was definitely a luxurious stay and a perfect starter to our holiday. Later we ventured into the city and found ourselves at a ladyboy show. This was probably one of the most entertaining and fun experiences…especially when the star of the show was flirting with my friend Deepan, who was trying so hard to hide.

 

Thunder Ranch Shooting Range, Phom Phen

Thunder Ranch Shooting Range, Phom Phen

Thunder Ranch Shooting Range, Phom Phen  – The next stop was Phom Phen. We jumped in our tuk tuks (local taxis) and headed to Thunder Ranch, run by the Royal Cambodian Army. We all had a go at firing AK47s and M116s. I wasn’t expecting the jolt back and noise but it was a good experience, even if I did miss most of the targets. It was also the part of my trip my brother was most excited about, being an avid Call of Duty fan.

 

The Killing Fields, Phom Phen

The Choeung Ek Memorial Stupa, housing 8000 of the skulls unearthed at the Killing Fields.


The Killing Fields, Phom Phen
  – The Killing fields was a very moving and emotional experience. It was the one place we had to visit in order to fully appreciate and understand a very important part of Cambodian history. It was hard to believe that 3 million people lost their lives in the most horrific circumstances, under the communist Khmer Rouge regime, just a few years before we were born. We all did some prior reading, but nothing could have prepared us for the stories, photos and facts documented at the museum. Despite such tragic events we all felt that the people of Cambodia were extremely friendly, forgiving and brave.

 

Christmas Day, Siem Reap

Christmas Day, Siem Reap


Christmas Day, Siem Reap
– Celebrating Christmas day in 30 degree heat was a bit surreal. Everywhere we went seemed to play Christmas carols and all the shops and restaurants were decorated in tinsel and fake snow. We thought we’d join in and wear santa hats to get in the Christmas spirit. We exchanged our usual turkey for crocodile, and after a big feast headed to a bar for some local beers and wines. The night ended on the dancefloor singing along to YMCA…as you do! It was just like being back at home. Outside the club was a line of children dancing and selling bracelets. Although we danced with the children and brought their bracelets, we couldn’t believe these kids were dancing out here at 3am, when they should have been in bed.

 

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap – After our all-nighter, we literally freshened up at the hotel and headed straight to Angkor Wat. Sleepy-eyed we sat on the banks and watched the sunrise. Despite the foggy weather it was an amazing view, everyone sat and admired the temple silhouette come to light. Later on we got a closer look at the inscriptions and impressive architecture.

 

Sheraton Hotel, Hanoi

Sheraton Hotel, Hanoi


NYE, Sheraton Hotel, Hanoi 
– We had taken quite a few internal flights and long coach journeys so by this stage we were looking forward to relaxing at the Sheraton hotel in Hanoi. After a traditional Thai massage we were invited to a ballroom dance. As none of us could ballroom dance, we decided to join the Sheraton NYE party instead. After a lovely champagne reception, we joined the locals and hotel guests for an unforgettable countdown and night of entertainment.

 

Ta Phin Village, Sapa

Ta Phin Village, Sapa

Ta Phin Village, Sapa

Local Villagers


Ta Phin Village, Sapa 
– The next adventure was an overnight train to Ta Phin village in Sapa, Northern Vietnam. On arrival we were greeted by our tour guide. The village itself was set within a valley layered with rice paddies, with towering mountains at one end. The people were from ethnic minorities known as Kinh, Red Dao and Black Hmong. The moment we stepped out of our van an army of kids barricaded us with trekking sticks. It was difficult to choose who to buy from but we did the obvious thing and brought from the youngest. The children all seemed to work hard and play hard. Two girls followed my side most of the walk and were very interested in life in the UK. The girl’s mother was happy they were practicing their English and told me that the village was very poor before tourists began to visit.  But now they get to sell their crafts, make money and meet new people.

 

Wat Pho, Bangkok

Reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok

Wat Pho, Bangkok

Wat Pho, Bangkok


Wat Pho, Bangkok
– The very final destination was Wat Pho, aka the reclining Buddha Temple. The main focal point is the 46 metre gold plated buddha, which is pretty impressive from any angle. The temple is extremely busy, so you do have to walk through quite fast. The rest of the grounds feature an array of gardens, temples and statues. Throughout the whole of my holiday I had tried very hard to capture a photo of a monk but failed. This was my last chance, and it turned out to be the best photo from my entire collection. I was told by his senior that he very rarely smiles, so my thumbs up before the photo must have done the trick.

We had an amazing time on our travels and would definitely return in the future.

If you would like to experience Cambodia and Vietnam for yourself simply complete an enquiry form and our travel experts will be delighted to help.

 

Comments are closed.