Mekong River Cruise AMA Lotus

Jan 30th, 2012, 01:48 AM
  #1  
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Mekong River Cruise AMA Lotus

We're a couple in our late 50's taking our first River Cruise - from Sien Reap in Cambodia to Ho Chi Ming, Vietnam over 8 days.

Can anyone give TIPS?

Anything will be helpful as we have no understanding of this region.
Should we take gifts and what sort of gifts?
OldKiwiGal is offline  
Jan 30th, 2012, 03:03 AM
  #2  
 
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Here's a part of a much longer story about the same river cruise that might be useful.

http://thedogster3.wordpress.com/compassion-attack/

So errr... no gifts. Don't fall for it.

Here's the full story: different boat, same same.
dogster is offline  
Jan 30th, 2012, 11:32 AM
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Thank you dogstar
This is good information. But now more "confused"!
I'd noticed the weepy tourists and heard the sad tales.

... they sell the gifts and use the money to run the school or whatever? ...Or does the boss take the money?
Or both get the money?
Any suggestions on what we should do?
..... give money not gifts?
...stay on the boat when they go for trips?
OldKiwiGal is offline  
Jan 30th, 2012, 12:51 PM
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I have absolutely no idea how to answer your questions, my friend. All I can do is tell what I saw. That piece is pure reportage.

First, examine your motives. There are worthy causes in New Zealand, too.

Second, be aware that a dozen boats a week go through that place. Do the maths.

Third, toughen up. It seems incomprehensible to us that someone would make money off orphans - but they do. Fact.

Fouth, imagine the temptations for a person who makes a pittance a year when handed a fistful of dollars...

Don't stay on the boat. Go and see for yourself. Ask questions. Don't take my word for it.

The fact is that generosity makes the giver feel good. For a great many tourists, that's all that matters. They actually don't care what happens to the dough - or, for that matter, what happens to the orphans - they just want feel good. If they cared, they'd research and double check, they'd follow up and continue donating to their chosen cause. They don't. A handful of pencils ain't gonna make a blind bit of difference - other than make YOU feel good.

If you really want to make a difference, cancel your trip and donate your fares, expenses, airfares, hotels and touring costs to a reputable organisation. All of a sudden that worthy compassion starts to fade, doesn't it?

Know thyself.

So, all I've probably done is confuse you some more. There are no absolutes. The rest of the story is here:

http://dogster5.wordpress.com/lookin...yavarman-home/
dogster is offline  
Jan 30th, 2012, 01:08 PM
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Oh, as you'll be in Siem Reap, here's some more confusing stuff. lol. I'll be back there again in three days for a week or so. It ain't just Ankor Wat.

http://dogster5.wordpress.com/siem-reap-home/

Here's a reputable charity you might like to check out while you're in town.
http://theplf.org/wp/
Much visited by people from the Fodor's Asia Board. Check out the heading up the top for what you can do.
dogster is offline  
Jan 30th, 2012, 11:53 PM
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Thanks dogstar.
I understand. Just been reading everything I've collected and it now makes sense, and explains why so many people claim to have had a 'life changing experience'. A good movie director can do the same thing! This is nothing new, we're just a little naive about other people's intelligence.
Looking at our itinary, we don't visit orphanages, or schools and AMA Tours pays our gratuities. There will be many sides to it all - I cannot hope to take it all in with one trip. Nevertheless I will look out of my fishbowl, via the ox-cart, riverboat or whatever and see many new colours. We like people watching and will now enjoy it more.
Thank you.. you made sense of the muddle.
OldKiwiGal is offline  
Jan 31st, 2012, 06:35 AM
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Remember, the stories are MY opinions. You may well come to different conclusions.

Have a great cruise.
dogster is offline  
Feb 4th, 2012, 05:04 PM
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My husband and I are also booked on the Amalotus for July 02/12 and all the info i needed i found them on Fordor's.com
if you go on the river cruise section there is a few travel report with loads of info, hope that helps.
evelyne13 is offline  
Feb 4th, 2012, 05:07 PM
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Sorry i wrote too fast i meant if you go on cruisecritic.com
evelyne13 is offline  
Feb 8th, 2012, 01:06 PM
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AMALotus did not include any gratuities when we sailed. In fact, we were expected to tip every river boat launch, guide,rickshaw driver, on and on, bring lots of dollars for tips, a very annoying aspect of an otherwise well run trip. We were surprised at how many passengers chose to eat western food when excellent Cambodian and Vietnamese dishes were offered at all meals.
At the end you could put tips for the crew on a credit card.
You'll have lots of free time which we liked so that we could also explore independently. In Phenom Penh many went into the city at night for dinner during our four overnights there.
We sailed in October and it was very hot and humid.The land was flooded in many areas.Passengers were about half Australians, and the others a mix of British, American and Canadian.We did not see any giving of gifts such as mentioned in an earlier post. Most of the guides were excellent.
We are not cruisers but found this a good way to see places and ancient sites we never would have seen without a river boat cruise.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Mar 12th, 2012, 05:21 PM
  #11  
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Thanks HappyTrvlr,

I understand just the APT Travellers have their gratuities and drinks all included in the ticket price. That's what the brochure is marketing.

I'm delighted to hear about the spare time for exploring. Did everyone go on the daily tours? I'm keen to skip the 'killing fields' tour, but might rethink this once I arrive. I guess everyone was very sad that evening.

We join the boat on 26th March from Siem Reap... not long to go so very excited
OldKiwiGal is offline  
Mar 12th, 2012, 06:15 PM
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Woo hoo - only twelve more sleeps, eh?

The Killing Fields and Sol Tueng are pretty sobering but, if you can bear it, kinda crucial to understanding the Cambodia phenomenon. Since we last talked I've just spent a fortnight in Siem Reap - again. But, if you don't want to go - then don't. Jump in a tuk-tuk and zoom around Phnom Penh - lots of stuff to see - really, just being there is enough. Just wander.
dogster is offline  
Mar 12th, 2012, 08:18 PM
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Thanks Dogstar, your comments all add to the picture.
OldKiwiGal is offline  
Mar 12th, 2012, 08:27 PM
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Just noticed the the top sentence...it's less 12 sleeps. I count the meals I must cook - three! Visit the family then off to Singapore for four days!

I owe a big thank you for everyones comments. We loved your articles Dogstar - loved the langauage. I could almost smell the places. I'll now probably have a fish massage! Never thought of doing this. You gave me the freedom to sit back and watch everything.
OldKiwiGal is offline  
Mar 12th, 2012, 09:06 PM
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Awww. Kind words. Thank you. Now just have a fabulous time. I'll be thinking of you. Report back.
dogster is offline  
Mar 13th, 2012, 03:59 PM
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I encourage you to go to the Killing Fields and the Genocide Museum to fully understand Cambodia. Yes, it is sobering but an important part of the history of Cambodia; 25% of the population was murdered.Our guide had to learn about the horrors of the Pol Pot regime by reading on his own. It was not taught in schools nor in his tourism classes.
I also encourge you to visit Siem Reap.We spent six weeks in Asia last fall, and Cambodia really touched our hearts.
An excellent restuarant and experience in Phenom Penh is Romdeng, one of the Friends restaurants staffed by former street kids, and run by an NGO.It is in a beautiful setting and the food was delicious.
HappyTrvlr is offline  

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