Why I Love Road Scholar!

Mike and I are now traveling on our own, after our whirlwind tour with Road Scholar, through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. And what a tour it was!
My blog couldn’t keep pace with our activities and even now, this summary will only provide a taste of those incredible 20 days.
Here are a few of the many reasons I love Road Scholar.

SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE
Road Scholar made contributions on our behalf to the two village schools and hospital we visited.

One nurse per 500 children at the outpatient clinic of this free hospital

One nurse per 500 children at the outpatient clinic of this free hospital

Look who else visited the hospital--but not while we were there.

Look who else visited the hospital–but not while we were there.

While traveling in Cambodia a few years ago, the Spitlers asked their guide to suggest a worthwhile project. The end result was this village school.
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Sarin, a Cambodian tour guide, and head of the Spitler School

Sarin, Cambodian tour guide, and head of the Spitler School

Prior to the Spitler School, children in this village had no opportunity for education.
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Yes, we were captivated.

Yes, we were captivated.

JAW DROPPING EXPERIENCES

Mike, taking in the majesty of Angkor Wat

Mike, taking in the majesty of Angkor Wat

The demons guarding the bridge to Angkor Thom

The demons guarding the bridge to Angkor Thom

One of the many faces of King  Jayavarman 7

One of the many faces of King Jayavarman 7

Good guys on the left, demons on the right, churning the sea of milk

Good guys on the left, demons on the right, churning the sea of milk with Jayavarman 7 gazing down on it all

And of course, the many Buddha images in Laos and Thailand were unforgettable and impressive.
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WONDERFUL LECTURES

Tony Zola, another former Peace Corp volunteer who settled in Asia, was a fascinating lecturer.  He spoke to us in Thailand and Laos.

Tony Zola, another former Peace Corp volunteer who settled in Asia, was a fascinating lecturer. He spoke to us in Thailand and Laos.

Tara (an American)and a local Lao woman created the Museum of  Art and Ethnology.

Tara (an American)and a local Lao woman created the Museum of Art and Ethnology.

We had an amazing lunch at Fabian's stilt home in a  Laotian village, followed by a lecture.

We had an amazing lunch at Fabian’s stilt home in a Laotian village, followed by a lecture.

GREAT COMPANIONS
Fantastic experiences are even better when shared with like minded companions.
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The jungle temple

The jungle temple

Showing off our Baci Ceremony stringe

Showing off our Baci Ceremony strings

CULTURAL IMMERSION

Elephant Camp

Elephant Camp

Water Puppet Show

Hanoi Water Puppet Show

Lanna dance

Lanna dance

Ancient musical instruments.  That IS an elephant carved on the end of that bow

Ancient musical instruments. That IS an elephant carved on the end of that bow

One of the marriage stories in the museum of Art and Ethnology

One of the marriage stories in the museum of Art and Ethnology

From night markets...

From night markets…

To rice paddies, we saw it all

To rice paddies, we saw it all

BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE
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INCREDIBLE FOOD
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Judging from their rounded bellies, I think these apsaras just finished a Road Scholar trip!

Judging from their rounded bellies, I think these apsaras just finished a Road Scholar trip!


I’ll give your eyeballs a rest, and stop with the photos.
You’ll just have to take my word for it, this trip was AMAZING!

Halong Bay

For this post, the pictures will (mainly) speak for themselves.
HaLong Bay is about 4 hours by bus north of Hanoi.image

I think the ballot box may have been stuffed for some of these choices, but Halong Bay definitely deserves to be on the list of Natural Wonders.

I think the ballot box may have been stuffed for some of these choices, but Halong Bay definitely deserves to be on the list.

The surrounding area is starting to get built up, with lots of hotels across from the beach.

The surrounding area is starting to get built up, with lots of hotels across from the beach.

We, however, spent the night on the Emeraude.

We, however, spent the night on the Emeraude.

Take a good look.  Can you find the shower?

Take a good look. Can you find the shower? What about the “closet”?

Great views from the top deck (and the middle and  the lower decks)

Great views from the top deck (and the middle and the lower decks)but the top deck has the bar!

I didn't expect penguins in Vietnam

I didn’t expect penguins in Vietnam


Or monkeys...

Or monkeys…

My sister Sue always wanted a pet monkey.  I tried to convince this one to come home with me.

My sister Sue always wanted a pet monkey. I tried to convince this one to come home with me. Check out her facial expression for her answer.

We took a tender to the Surprise Cave.  The third cave was enormous!

We took a tender to the Surprise Cave. The third cave was enormous!

We climbed over 100 steps (I lost count) to an opening that gave us this wonderful vantage point.

I couldn't resist posting two shots--one framed,one not. You get to choose which you prefer.

I couldn’t resist posting two shots–one framed,one not. You get to choose which you prefer.

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These ladies were waiting for us to return to the ship so they could sell us some of their handmade goods.

These ladies were waiting for us to return to the ship so they could sell us some of their handmade goods.


How lucky were we, to see night fall on Halong Bay

How lucky were we, to see night fall on Halong Bay


And with an almost full moon.my photos don't do it justice.

And with an almost full moon. My photos don’t do it justice.

Sunrise on the bay

Sunrise on the bay

East coast girl, hanging out, enjoying the view.

East coast girl, hanging out, enjoying the view.

We cruised for a while, enjoying the effect the changing light had on the seascape (bayscape?)

We cruised for a while, enjoying the effect the changing light had on the seascape (bayscape?)

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Time to return to Hanoi for our farewell dinner and the end of this phase of our Asian Adventure.

Time to return to Hanoi for our farewell dinner and the end of this phase of our Asian Adventure.

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

The elephant ride in Thailand was tame, compared to our cyclo excursion through Hanoi’s old quarter. Imagine 22 of us oldies but goodies being pedaled through narrow crowded, crooked streets. Actually, you don’t have to imagine, because through the magic of digital photography, we captured this thrilling adventure for you.

One of my Pennsylvania buddies was right in front of me, so I was able to get a couple of shots of her, and she returned the favor.

Linda, relaxed and happy at the start of the ride.

Linda, relaxed and happy at the start of the ride.

Linda, after riding for a few minutes...check out the expression...

Linda, after riding for a few minutes…check out the expression…

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I wasn’t looking behind me, so didn’t see how close the car and motorbike were to my fearless driver.

Photo by Linda

Photo by Linda. Please note. I am wearing the scarf I dyed, and the skirt I purchased at the night market in Laos

Mike was following close behind.

And mom always thinks he's got more sense than me!

And mom always thinks he’s got more sense than me!

It actually was a great way to see the city. I could check out the shops for later purchases. Hmmm, which sister or cousin will be getting something from the “Toxic Shop”? Or would a propaganda poster make a better “prize”?

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One more shot to make sure you got the full effect of Hanoi streets, then we will move on to other highlights.
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You can’t visit Hanoi without paying your respects to Ho Chi Minh.

Ho Chi Minh's embalmed body lies in this mausoleum.

Ho Chi Mihn’s embalmed body lies in this mausoleum.

This French colonial governor’s mansion was very briefly Ho Chi Minh’s home until he was able to settle into something more to his taste.
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This house on stilts was where Ho Chi Minh preferred to live.
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Ho Chi Minh's bedroom

Ho Chi Mihn’s bedroom. Personally, I prefer a sleep number bed.

On to the Temple of Literature, which was beautifully decorated for New Year. Like many Americans, they are not in a big rush to take down their decorations, giving the Temple an even more festive look.
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The Vietnamese do amazing things with flowers and plants

The Vietnamese do amazing things with flowers and plants

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Turtles are VERY important to the Vietnamese. Unfortunately, I was in the “happy” room when our guide was explaining the significance of these turtle sculptures, so I missed that part, but I know it had to do with education. Google it, if you want specifics–or you can just enjoy the photos.
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We have an early morning tomorrow, so that’s all for today. Hugs to all and a big hello to all Sue’s co-workers. Glad you are following along!