To LA and Home, Day 13

Our flight took off on time, at 4:00 AM and arrived at 9:00 AM Shanghai time, one-hour time zone later. The layover dropped from 8-1/2 hours to 3 hours, which was good, since the Shanghai airport has little to see or do, other than duty free shops and a few restaurants with strange offerings. Congee for breakfast, no matter what you pair with it, doesn’t sound or look good. Probably the best thing to eat was at Starbucks!

Finally, on the plane to LA. The flight was totally full, but after getting some sleep in the Siem Reap airport and again on the flight to Shanghai, the 11-hour flight to LA seemed to fly by. There were some good movies to watch, a little walking around, maybe a catnap now and then, but otherwise we were awake the whole time.

We arrived in decent shape to LA, found electrical plugs to charge our devices and spent the four hours just relaxing and having a bite of food. We leave at 4:00 PM and will be home and in bed by 10:00 PM our time. We are looking forward to that.

General Observations of the Tip:

Smartours does an excellent job of providing knowledgeable, capable and enthusiastic tour guides. They really know their stuff. In general, the hotels were excellent. In one case, the hotel wasn’t that great, but that may have been due to a Vietnamese holiday in Hue causing them to use a hotel that could accommodate all of us. We don’t know for sure, but even our guide said that it wasn’t up to the standards he normally sees.

Having some down time is very important and we could have used an extra half day to enjoy the pool or shop. Still, we saw so much and with all the entrance fees, transportation and most of the meals included, it is a great bargain.

We loved the Vietnamese people, with their smiling faces. The large cities in Vietnam are modern and crazy. The millions of motorcycles make life there a nightmare. Previously, it was the same, but with bicycles, nor motorcycles. The smaller towns and countryside villages seem quite poor. The country is still dealing with probably 1,000 buried landmines that have not been found. You see men without arms or legs as a result of the war so many years ago.

Cambodia was even friendlier. The roads are filled with tuktuks and rickshaws, as well as very current cars. I would say that the number one car in Siem Reap is the Lexus SUV. Some were as much as 10 years old, but there were some that were much more current. You couldn’t miss seeing a Lexus everywhere you turned. I found that quite remarkable.

There are huge well-stocked grocery stores, a zillion restaurants and coffee shops, and at least one or two banks in every block. While the culture is very different from Vietnam, the people are warm and inviting. We would recommend this trip. The only down side was the amount of time we spent on a bus getting from one part of Vietnam to another. However, there are few options if you want to get the flavor of what Vietnam has to offer.

There are so many pictures to share and we will miss the friendships we have made on the trip. We look forward to having some of them visit us in Mexico in the future. The pictures will be added soon…

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