We loved absolutely everything! I'm in serious danger of superlative overload here but the truth is, Tuan of Hainam Travel created an outstanding trip. Our brief was to spend 7 weeks exploring Indochina, focussing on culture, history, food, geography, ecology and meeting and getting to know local people. Tuan phoned us several times to discuss our ideas (which were really quite vague!) and then put together a programme that went above and beyond all our expectations. We had so many wonderful adventures, met so many wonderful people and had so many memorable experiences, I could write a book! Tuan got it absolutely right; the content, pace, variety, accommodation and all for a price that makes our friends and family gasp in disbelief. Our guides were all exceptional; incredibly knowledgeable, intelligent, enthusiastic people who are passionate about their countries and keen to share their intimate knowledge honestly and objectively. They were a joy to be with. The trip was our gift to each other to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. And we celebrated in some style! Tuan had briefed our hotels and excursion leaders and we were thoroughly feted and pampered. Our actual anniversary date was truly magical! We were rowed at sunset in a bamboo basket boat up a river, between banks of jungle. We alighted and were escorted down a path lined with flickering torches to our very own bamboo pavilion, floating like a boat in the rice paddy. Our very own chef and waitress were waiting for us and served us a fabulous feast while the darkness deepened and the crickets sang. Impossibly romantic!!
During the 7 weeks, we travelled overnight by train, had 6 domestic flights, 3 international flights, stayed in 14 different hotels, enjoyed 1 homestay, and 1 cruise in the stunning Halong Bay. We cycled, we trekked, we snorkled, we kayaked, had numerous boat trips and many sightseeing tours. We have travelled through mountains, emerald with rice terraces, through jungles, and the mighty Mekong delta. We have lazed on white sand beaches and swam in turquoise waters. We have explored coral reefs and floating villages. We have stayed in exotic, bustling, chaotic cities and peaceful villages. We have been awed by natural beauty and by the incredible grandeur of Angkor Wat and princely palaces. We have eaten wonderful street food and had sumptuous fine dining in the Garden House in Hue. We have shopped in the most colourful, exciting street markets. And everywhere there have been lovely smiling, happy people, only a generation away from the unimaginable horrors of the Vietnam War and the Killing Fields of the Kh'mer Rouge - a distressing but necessary part of our experience. Tuan's organisation has been so good that it has all flowed seamlessly and everything happened as planned and with immaculate timing.