Cecile and I and our small congenial tour group had our final lunch at Pho Hung, cocktails on the top floor of our hotel and a farewell dinner at Viet Village Restaurant in Saigon with Lin, our main guide, from Overseas Adventure Travels OAT). Together we toured and learned about the Ancient Kingdoms of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Arthur, our local guide was also present. Together with our pre-Trip to Myanmar (Burma) that Cecile and I did on our own, we have been out of the country for one month and I have to say even though the time passed quickly, the memories will last a lifetime. We are currently back in Bangkok, Thailand for four nights at the Marriott Marquis where we are going to relax by the pool, do some leisurely shopping and hopefully hook up with a friend before heading back home to California.
This was our first trip with OAT and I have to say we have been very impressed with the first hand knowledge and insight of the trip leaders. They made the history and culture come alive. They bent over backwards to anticipate our every need. They displayed unbridled enthusiasm, caring personalities, and with respect to Lin, a wickedly funny sense of humor. They demonstrated an ability to bring a diverse groups of travelers together and provide an atmosphere of shared experiences that made it possible for our group to bond together. Finally, they introduced us to unique culinary experiences we never thought we'd ever be a part of. Southeast Asian countries are known for their gracious hospitality and along the way we were touched by it many times. Throughout our journey, Lin made it clear that we would not only going to witness and experience the beauty and the spirituality of these countries, but we would be exposed to the poverty and the dark side of history as well. Yet, to be fair all countries have a darker side including our own, and life goes on. Our experience in this area made me think about a quote by L.R. Knost who once said: “Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in the darkness for the light [you bring to it].”