As the rain poured and it was very hot and humid in Phuket, we left Tulu safely tucked away in Phuket Yacht Haven whilst we travelled to Cambia and Vietnam for three weeks. We started in Phnom Pen where we learned about the brutality and cruelty of the Pol Pot regime. Visits to the killing fields and S21 prison were sobering experiences. Then on to Siem Reap and the ancient temples of Angkor and the surrounding area. The most iconic of these being the extraordinary Angkor Wat. Whilst there, a visit to a land mine museum which runs a school and orphanage, made us realise that Cambodia still lives under a terrible legacy of the atrocities of war.
In Vietnam we started in the south with Ho Chi Min city, the Mekong Delta and visited the Cu Chi tunnels, another relic of the long years of war in Vietnam. We had a lovely couple of days in pretty Hoi An halfway up the long east coast and then flew up to the island of Cat Bar near the famous limestone castes of Ha Long bay. Our last stop was Hanoi staying in the heart of the old city and paid homage in the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Min. A performance of the famous water puppets was a definite highlight along with Vietnams delicious street food (that is Sara's view - not shared by Chris sadly).
Whilst we were away, Tulu was on the market and various viewings and interest was rather a distraction. Not long after we got back to Tulu we received a very fair offer for her which we felt would be foolish to refuse. All of a sudden our time on Tulu was drawing to a close. We had our trip to Myanmar booked and paid for so we negotiated a handover of the boat on our return.
Myanmar is a beautiful country just opening up to tourism in the last few years following many years of oppression under strict and corrupt military rule. We flew to the relatively new city of Mandalay on the banks of the Ayerawaddy (Irrawaddy to us) River and visited all manner of Buddhist temples and small workshops. The river was in severe flood and many homes and villages in the area were inundated so countless people were camping in makeshift shelters along the roadsides along with their animals waiting for the water to subside.
From Mandalay we travelled by road to Monwya - more temples and rural way of life - then to Bagan, a visually stunning area with over 3000 pagodas - either temples, stupa or monasteries (I won't bore you with the difference), many dating back to the 11th-13th century. Efforts have been made to restore many of them (an earthquake in 1975 did a lot of damage) but the restoration has not always been done very sympathetically. From Bagan we went to my favourite area - Inle Lake. We stayed in a lovely hotel on the lake and visited all the sights by open motorboat. We got a real insight into the way of life of the lake people with their stilt houses, floating gardens, interesting markets, craft workshops and not too many temples (well, everything is relative). Our last stop was in Yangon (formerly Rangoon). A brief visit, mostly in the rain, but plenty of time to see more temples and Buddhas in various poses - we did have to admit that although we were rather 'templed out' the huge temple of Shwedagon, the largest in Myanmar, was pretty spectacular!
Myanmar was well worth a visit - the people are delightful. They don't have a lot but it seemed that nobody went hungry. The country is rich in natural resources and is very fertile. As it opens up to the world at large, let's hope it doesn't get spoiled. After 11 days away it was time to return to Tulu for the last time to prepare her for transfer to her new owner.