Few countries, cultures and people have touched me as deeply as Cambodia has. We launched our first ship on the Mekong in 2009, a mere 10 years after the country opened up for tourism and since then I have seen remarkable development and transformational change. While the infrastructure has improved, the experience cruising the Mekong remains deeply authentic and educational in so many ways.
Both Vietnam’s and Cambodia’s modern history involved incredible hardships, yet their peoples’ resilience is inspiring and provides so many lessons to young people that no text book could begin to explain. I really encourage families to make this journey together as I have watched first-hand the transformational affect it has had on many young people. At least once a year, I am blessed to join our Vietnamese and Cambodian crew as they share their personal stories, culinary skills and deep sense of welcome with our guests onboard AmaDara.
Like all river cruises, this one takes our guests into the heart of the country following the mighty Mekong river that has been the source of commerce and life for centuries. Traveling upstream on your comfortable floating hotel, the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh is quickly replaced by visits to local villages, floating markets and awe-inspiring Buddhist monasteries before reaching Siem Reap and the temples of Angkor Wat. While the “places” visited are certainly eye-opening, it’s the “people” that you meet that will touch your heart and perhaps change the way you see and appreciate the world around you.
Each time I travel onboard our ship through Vietnam and Cambodia, I am somehow able to push the “pause button” on my busy life and am drawn into the simplicity of their lives, their ingenuity and adaptability and their deep care and respect for family and community. Whether it’s the entrepreneurial tuk tuk or oxcart driver, the children in the village schools or the orange-robed novice monks, each one opens doors to new understanding of different cultures and ways of life – lessons so important as we prepare our children to be the leaders of tomorrow.
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