Vietnam and Hong Kong
20.03.2016 - 29.03.2016
RTW day 112 In route to Bali All is still well. We left Miami in Jan with 244 Around the World folks, then in Singapore on March 14, 104 of them left. In 2015 the original cruise was delayed leaving due to a ship engine file. They started in Singapore the middle of March 2015 and continued to Miami in July 2015. These folks did the missing part from Miami to Singapore in 2016. We lost a lot of friends in Singapore.
March 20, - Sihanookville, Cambodia
No tour scheduled here. Took shuttle bus into town. Nothing special. However on the way into port, we passed this island that I claim as my own.
March 22-23 - Saigon, Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City)
Mekong River Cruise tour on day 1. Drove to My Tho for a visit to the 150 year old Vinh Trang Pagoda. The location had many beautiful gardens, ponds, and a very large Happy Buddha. We then boarded a river boat for the cruise on the Mekong. We cruised on several branches of the river and saw fish and shrimp hatcheries.
A lot of the river boats have eyes painted on the front. Years ago, there were many alligators in the river and this painting was to scare them away from the boat. Now the alligators are all gone so I guess it worked.
Stopped for lunch at an open pavilion beside the river. The lunch was a variety of Vietnam foods, most of them pretty good. There was fish, soup, rice & vegetables.
Following lunch, we took a short walk thru a small plantation to the location of the sampan boats for a ride on a small canal. The boat/canoe was very narrow and only seated 4 folks. We rode with Woodie and Cheryl. It was pushed along the canal by 2 elderly ladies, one if front and one in back. We dare not stand up or move around too much to tip the boat. After the sampan ride, we stopped at a handicraft stall and watched a process to make coconut candy (It wasn’t very good), and a pavilion for some entertainment by local musicians and singers. There was also small round boats for 1 person to travel on the canal.
Back on the bus for the drive to the ship, we passed some “Hammock Café’s”. These are to give the motor bikers who ride long distances a chance to stop and rest their butts.
Day 2 Roger and I did different tours. There were 7 of us that did a Pedi Cab ride for 2 hours. I felt sorry for my “driver” as I MAY have put on a few extra pounds during this cruise. We meandered thru small side streets to get the feel of the real Saigon. I saw many kinds of street vendors and markets and even a wedding couple taking photos outside a cathedral. The scary part was there were hundreds of motor bikes and cars & trucks trying to go on the same street we were. Trying to get into traffic ……I shut my eyes and the driver started peddling. But we all made it back without an accident.
Roger went on the “Good Morning Vietnam” tour. There was a stop at the “American” War Museum to see planes, tanks and bombs and countless artifacts and photographs. After lunch was a drive past General Westmoreland residence on the way to the Cu Chi Tunnels. There was also a demonstration of rice paper making.
March 25 - Ha Long Bay, Vietnam (Overnight on a Junk)
Ship docked several hours late. We arrived at the junk just before sunset. We headed to a cove to visit the Sung Sot (Surprise Cave). This is a giant cave 120 steps above the lagoon. Roger was brave enough to make the climb.
After the groups return to the junk, we did a small tour of the hundreds of limestone islets before it got too dark. Anchored for the night with a few other junks and had a good dinner. The junk was old but in good condition. The interior was all wood and beautiful. The bedroom was small but had a queen bed and the bathroom was very modern. The dinner was a large variety of foods but not too spicy.
March 26 - Hanoi, Vietnam
We had a good breakfast and left the ship at 6:30am for the 3 hour bus ride to Hanoi. We made a stop at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum but it was way too busy to be able to tour.
Went past a marker on the Lake where John McCain was shot down and a visit to the Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton) where he was a prisoner. We had a nice lunch at a local hotel then did a walking tour of 36th Street District in the ancient quarter. The streets are named after the tradesmen that worked in them i.e. Tin St, Paper St, Silk St.
The last stop was a visit to Tran Quoc Pagoda that is one of the oldest in Vietnam. At the pagoda, there was a large group of school children that wanted to stop and talk to us to improve their English. Some of the offerings to the gods in the afterlife were a little strange. We then did the 3 hour drive back to the ship.
March 28-29 - Hong Kong
We did a nighttime tour of Kowloon. The neon lights on the hotels, restaurants, pubs and shops were very bright from the top of a double-decker bus. Them we did a stop at the Temple Street Night Market. Amazing how many folks were out shopping that late. For my Mah Jongg friends, here is a photo of a M.J. Club that heavy betting goes on inside (So I’m told!), & you must be a member to go in.
3-29 - We did a daytime Hop-on-hop-off bus tour. There was a lot of new construction going on and every 20 years the law requires the buildings be inspected. Amazingly, they use bamboo poles for scaffolding. There is another law that every 10th floor needs to be vacant to be a fire break. Good idea!!
We hopped off at a Hard Rock Café for lunch and t-shirts. We also got off at a place called the Ladies Market but we were not very impressed. We have been looking for a pair of good binoculars since India but have not had any luck. Did not find them here either. There is a Walt Disney Park here that we had intended to go but after reading the brochure, did not think it worth the trouble. It was very small and not many rides. They did have an Ocean Park Amusement place that was very large but we did not have the time to visit. Every evening the H.K. skyscrapers have a great light show.
Item for my lady friends, for the last several months when on tour and making a rest room stop, the first ones in report how many Western toilets are there. Usually there are only one or two available. We always take our t.p. or kleenex with us. We don’t squat very well any more.
Next stop is the Terracotta Warriors in China