Life on board an APT river cruise is effortless, as ROL Cruise member Katie found out recently. Katie was lucky enough to sail the Mekong River aboard La Marguerite. Here, we chat to her about the fully immersive river cruising experience:
Which port was your favourite?
One of the ports we docked at was Kandal, along the Tonle Sap River. Here, we visited a Cambodian Primary School. These schools have very little, so we all took gifts for the children. Just giving them a pen or pencil will make them smile enormously. Sitting with the children at their desks and helping them practise their English is a heart-warming experience that has provided me with some unforgettable memories.
Where did you find the best street food?
In Siem Reap, we took a tuk-tuk into the town. Here, we found plenty of authentic Cambodian restaurants lining the streets. We had a lovely meal which had both red snapper and catfish - which are well worth a try.
Did you try any obscure food?
On our way back from Siem Reap, before we embarked the ship, we stopped at the famous tarantula markets. There is a wide range of unusual treats to try, so with a little pressure from my colleagues, I tried deep-fried tarantula which was an interesting experience.
What were the people you met like?
Wherever we went, the locals were extremely welcoming. When I stopped to think, I realised how little these countries have. That, combined with what they have been through, was really humbling. It was so nice to see how happy there were to see and speak to us.
What’s the most interesting thing you learned?
The most interesting experience for me was the Killing Fields and S21 Museum in Cambodia. To listen to the devastation a lot of the Cambodian community have gone through in the reign of Pol Pot was unbelievable. The tour guide had lived through this time, so I was hooked on his every word. I found the tour guides were extremely knowledgeable, so I really learnt a lot about Cambodian history.
What was the most challenging thing you did?
On our last day in Cambodia, I decided to take a tuk-tuk to Angkor Wat to watch the sunrise. I knew this was my only chance so although getting up at 3:30 am was tough, it was an amazing experience. Sitting by the water and watching the sunrise was spectacular. We even made it back in time for breakfast!
Which sites did you visit?
One of the highlights was visiting a tiny monastery in Kampong Tralach, Cambodia. Here, we received a Buddhist blessing which was an experience that money cannot buy. To watch them and to learn about their daily routine was eye-opening.
What was the ship like?
La Marguerite is a beautiful ship! There is a relaxing lounge area that holds daytime and evening activities and a lovely deck area for those sunny days cruising along the Mekong. The best part of the experience on board has to be the staff. They had learnt my name by breakfast on the first morning. The simple touches, like having a cup of tea or coffee waiting for you at breakfast or your evening drink already waiting for you at your table that made all the difference.