Life Begins At...

The Retiree Magazine Summer 2011-12

Life Begins At.....

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Page 88 of 171

CRUISING COLUMN Ankor, which literally means Capital or Holy City, attracts thousands of tourists daily and dominated the Khmer Empire between the 9th and 12th centuries AD. The remains of the temples are a must see and climbing the very large stone steps without our own guide to help, would have been very diffi cult. American dollars are king in Cambodia and hardly any hotels or even small stalls want to accept their local currency. So take American dollars with you. Australian dollars are not readily accepted. Our hotel's pool and spa area could not be resisted, so after a day of sightseeing we booked in for a full body massage, which took some of the pain away from our sore muscles from climbing over the temples. The next morning after breakfast, we joined our APT tour in the hotel's foyer for the start of our Mekong River cruise. The air-conditioned coach ride through the interesting countryside to get to our river ship may vary in length depending on river depth. This journey took us about an hour. At the river's edge we boarded large motor boats that were to ferry us further down the river to La Marguerite. On our short ride, several small boats pulled alongside trying to sell us their wares that ranged from fruits to live snakes held by young children. We were certainly in for a colourful eight days of river cruising. Pulling alongside, we were greeted by a very welcoming Captain and crew. The cold towels and cool drinks were well received by all. The mandatory short briefi ng and safety talk followed, before we were escorted to our cabin to freshen up before lunch. APT's La Marguerite is a two year old Vietnamese built river ship, purposely retro fashioned, but with all the modern facilities including wide screen TV and DVD player in each cabin, together with an excellent library offering a large selection of current DVDs at no charge, powerful air-conditioning units were welcome after returning from shore side excursions. The one feature I missed was a lift, as found on most river ships, but the exercise did me no harm as there were only three decks, this would preclude any wheelchair- bound passengers. Most of the passengers were aged over 65, many with knee problems, but they managed to access all areas of La Marguerite. Our cabin was decorated with a vintage fl air, dark wooden ceiling and walls as well as a vintage fan and telephone complimented the latest air conditioning. The cabin was not huge, but practical, large wardrobes were appreciated. The sliding doors opened to a balcony and one could lie in bed with an outstanding fi eld of view. Sandra loved the window seat that was a real bonus and very comfortable to sit in and read or watch the river going by. The ensuite bathroom featured a large shower recess. Breakfasts and lunches were buffet style, with a large choice Each evening after dinner we were entertained by the resident musician, but most went to bed fairly early, as each day was packed with tours and things to do. Cruise highlights Our fi rst river village, Kampong Chhang, saw us walking through the main street observing the many shops and market stalls. On our way to Kampong Chhang we sailed past fl oating villages watching the locals going about their daily life. Fish and rice farming were the main occupation. THE RETIREE SUMMER 83 of hot and cold foods, mostly western with a hint of oriental. Complimentary soft drinks and local wines were served during meals. Local spirits were also free and were available in the lounge bar. All our daily excursions were included at no charge.

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