267 Kms from Senmonorom
Cambodia has a difficult and painful history of genocide in the not-so-distant past. Between 1975-1979 almost 3 million out of 8 million Cambodians died of starvation or were killed by the Khmer Rouge. Note of caution: I was prepared for what was to come since I had read up about the genocide but it was still very depressing and emotionally taxing. At the gates of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum or S-21 prison we paid 6 $ each and got audio head sets, players and a map each. To see this building from the outside nobody would dream of the nightmarish atrocities that happened inside it. The audio tour is a good investment as it takes visitors through numbered points in the school-turned-prison building. Our minds numb with the horrors of history we had just witnessed, we set off for the next destination: The Killing Fields. This is the mass grave-site where prisoners from S-21 were taken and killed. The main structure here is a memorial built in traditional Khmer style housing hundreds of human skulls and bones that were found there. There is an audio tour here too which explains what happened here and there is a short video that is played for 10 minutes every half hour for visitors.
144 Kms from Senmonorom
Day 16 Da Lat – Cat Tien National Park (BL) Am: Have breakfast at hotel. Leave Dalat for Cat Tien National Park at 7.30 am. On the way you stop to see Chicken village and Pongour falls for more admiration of beautiful landscapes. On arrival, cross through Dong Nai River to enter the Cat Tien National Park for beginning your wildlife experience. Arrive at the Nam Cat Tien National Park, check in and follow by lunch. Pm: In the afternoon you start walking 8km along the ecologic route: sites of Lagerstroemia Ovalfolia (BangLang), Tetrameles nudiflora (Tung), Cycas rumphii (Thien Tue), Ancistrolandus Tectorius (Trung quan), Afzelia cyclocarpa (Go). After that you are back to the center for having dinner. Overnight at the park. (Optional: You can take a night safari to see the diversity of wild animals and their lives at night) Day 17 Cat Tien NP - Ho Chi Minh (BL) Am: Have breakfast at hotel. This morning you will continue your journey on 9km transfer by jeep inside the park to a junction. Then you go on trekking 5km to the Crocodile lake station. You have a short break at the lake before trekking to the main road again. Jeep picks up and transfers back to the park center. Check out the room. Have lunch at the park Pm: In the afternoon you leave the park, take the ferry across the river, then head back to Ho Chi Minh City. On arrival, check in hotel. Free to have your own dinner. In the evening you are free to walk around the city and explore. Overnight at hotel.
260 Kms from Senmonorom
We continued our journey towards the South and this little town of Quy Nhon was a delightful stop along the way. Miles of beachfront provided hours of walking along the surf. From high atop the bell tower of the cathedral in Quy Nhon we spotted a rooftop statue of Quan Lin. Like a treasure hunt we followed the narrow streets until we found these resident nuns, who welcomed us in for over an hour; serving us tea, explaining the different statues and how to light incense, then bow. We were welcomed once again into the Vietnamese culture.
215 Kms from Senmonorom
Nha Trang is probably the cheapest place in the world to pick up your PADI, but admittedly the underwater scenery is a bit depleted and underwhelming. Regardless, the prices are amazing and you can save a lot to get your Open Water PADI here for less than Rs. 16000, including accommodation.
298 Kms from Senmonorom
Chau Doc, on the Cambodian border is a hodgepodge of markets, boats and shacks lining the Bassac River. We jumped at the chance to stay in a funky room right on the shore. From our windows above we watched the beehive of activity and listened to the variety of motors powering boats along the river. We even put up with the occasional speed boats, making so much noise that we had to pause our conversation.