Moderator: American AAdvantage, Mexico, Technical Support and Feedback, and Talkboard Topics
Join Date: May 2000
Location: NorCal - SMF area
Programs: AA EXP / 5 MM; HH <>; SPG Gold; Maître-plongeur des Muccis
Much later... and, caveat, not a low budget operation - but reasonable for a cruise, IMO.
On a National Geographic Expedition, we took a lovely seven day river cruise on a spectacular boat, River Vessel "Tonle Pandaw" up the Mekong River from My Tho, near Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon, to (nearly! the Tonle Sap was too shallow for the last reach so we took a motorized hydrofoil with shallower draft) Siem Reap, Cambodia, with many excursions to markets, temples, ethnic villages and home workshops (silk and cotton weaving primarily), fish farms, orchards and much more. As we traveled up this enormous river with nine mouths ("the river of nine dragons"), we visited villages and saw how during the war the Viet Cong could have hidden fifty feet away and nobody would have seen them - even with boats, or if they'd had them, elephants!
The boat was classic teak, spectacular service, very pleasant accommodations, excellent food, etc. etc. I was also impressed that the owner's (the Strachan family - Pandaw is incorporated in Singapore) Pandaw Charity effort supports schools and community projects wherever they operate; immediately after cyclone Nargis and the awful floods in Burma/Myanmar, Pandaw was early on the scene providing hospital boats, food, personnel etc. before many of the foreign aid agencies could react - and later providing them with mobile floating platforms to reach otherwise unreachable victims.
I can not recommend Pandaw Cruises enough for cruising the waters of Burma / Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia and Borneo. Our bucket list includes further cruising with Pandaw. History of Pandaw Cruises link.
If you stop at a fishing village as some cruises stop and put down their anchors until the travelers eat something, you will find some seafood being farmed. You can buy it and let it cooked for you free of cost on the boat.
I think it is advisable to avoid the $20/night tours, but it is extremely risk adverse to avoid Halong Bay all togeather.
Your opinion is correct; however, I am not 100 % support your comment. No one can guess what our mother nature will do next, especially when we are destroying her steps by steps. The cheap price has nothing to do with the "cheap" or poor qualities. Since they are developing countries, their living standard is, of course, lower than other developed one, that's why the cost of service is not high. Any one can make a mistake and we will not judge them on what they did, but on what they are trying to achieve.