War Remnants Museum
Another sea day. Since I was so burnt from the 1st sea day I decided not to lay out at all. I hung around, drank Pina Coladas and played some Yahtzee. Also read my book the Last Song, by Nicholas Sparks. I wanted to finish it before I got home since the movie has just been released in theatres. I never did finish it though, still working on it.
The next day we arrived at Vietnam. It was a 2 hour bus ride from the port to Ho Chi Min City. Our tour guide Kevin, first took us to the Vietnam War Remnants Museum, which was definitely Anti-American. There were displays of negative American quotes, and pictures of children being injured. It was actually a very depressing place. We then headed to the Hundred Years Red cathedral, also known as Notre Dame.
Long Son Pagoda
It was pretty, but I've seen the real Notre Dame in Paris and there was no comparison. We walked by City Hall, the Opera House, the Post Office (which was HUGE, and built in beautiful Gothic style). We then headed to the Rex Hotel to get a good view of the city from the top floor. After the hotel we walked over to Pho 2000 for lunch. Mom & I ordered 2 large bowls of Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup with chicken) 2 orders of spring rolls and 2 sodas. The order came to $7. So extremely cheap. The food was great. President Clinton and his daughter ate there a few years back and there were pictures of them hanging from the walls. After lunch we walked across the street to the Ben Thanh Market. Thousands of stalls selling fabric, shoes, souvenirs, etc.
The Sailing Club beach, Nha Trang Bar swing in Paradise
But they didn't sell shot glasses or thimbles. Which was disappointing to us, as I collect a shot glass from everywhere I visit and my mom collects thimbles. They didn't know what either item was. I settled and bought a tea cup. I guess it will have to do. I also bought a cute little tea set for only $7. Its beautiful and I bet it would be over $50 if it was sold in US. Probably closer to $100. That was my bargain of the trip. There were tons and tons of motorcycles everywhere. You need to be really aware of where you are walking, because they don't stop for anything. The joke of the tour was to see who could get the picture of the motorbike with the oddest thing attached. Someone on our bus won by taking a picture of a motorbike with a pig in the bikes basket.
The Sailing Club beach, Nha Trang
haha. We got back to the bus and the people started complaining that they were too hot and that they just wanted to go back to the ship. I didn't want to go back to the ship, I wanted to finish the rest of the tour. Oh well I was out numbered, by the old cranky seniors so I missed out on seeing the Reunification Palace and one other place of interest. I was really annoyed with the people on my tour. Oh well, there was nothing I could do about it.
The next port of call was Nha Trang. The beautiful Vietnam beach port. We woke up and got the first tender ashore. We then took the free shuttle offered by Princess to Dam Market. We hired a taxi driver to take us to the Po Nagar Cham Towers (Thap Ba), Long Son Pagoda and the Sailing Club. The Cham Towers were built sometime back in 781 A.
D and was a shrine devoted to Uroja the goddess of the country. The view at the top of the stairs was beautiful. Gorgeous waters and beaches down below. Then we were off to the Long Son Pagoda home of the enormous white Buddha. It commemorates Buddhist Monks who protested the Diem Regime in the 60s by setting themselves on fire. There were over 100 steps to the top and boy was it HOT. A young Vietnamese guy came up to me and told me he was a student of the temple. He showed me around and walked me to the top. On the way to the top there was a replica of the Bangkok reclining Buddha except this Buddha had swastikas on his feet. The 'student' told me that in the Buddhist religion this means good luck. Wow what irony. Certainly didn't mean good luck in Germany.
Eating Pho from Pho 2000
Awful. I got to the top where the Buddha was and luckily there were some American guys at the top to take my picture. The Buddha was beautiful. I am really starting to love the Buddhist religion. I really believe in Karma.
After the Long Son Pagoda our driver took us over to the Sailing Club beach. The Sailing Club is an upscale hotel with restaurants and bars, and a glorious beach. We rented chairs under large straw umbrellas. It was not nearly as hot by the water. Very comfortable actually. I relaxed and read my book, stopping every now and then to take in the beauty of my surroundings. There were hawkers on the beach trying to sell everything from beer, to food, to souvenirs. Everytime they approached our beach they were yelled at by the hotel staff.
Tour Guide Kevin
The other nearby beaches had tons of hawkers lining the beach. I guess since this beach was private they were unable to bother us. Made for a nice relaxing beach day. The sand was a little rougher then I expected. Very pebble-y. I was pleasantly surprised by the water. Much cleaner then New Jersey's. In the distance you could see Vin Pearl island and the cable cars. One day I'd love to come back and go there. I was hot and thirsty so I went up to the walk up bar and attempted to order an alcoholic beverage. Apparently they don't serve alcohol until after 1pm. What a disappointment that was. I was excited to relax with a nice Pina Colada on the beach. Oh well, I guess the Vietnamese don't drink as much as us Americans do. There were swings at the bar which I loved.
It was so cute there. Everything was perfect. The restaurants looked stunning, and I'm sure the food was excellent. We didn't try it though. It was a really great beach day, I could have stayed there forever. We hailed a taxi to take us over to Dam market. Dam market was similar to the market in Ho Chi Min in that it sold souvenirs, clothing, food, and in this market they were selling flowers and furniture too. Mom and I walked around a bit browsing. This market didn't sell thimbles or shot glasses either. Boo. We didn't end up buying anything even though there were tons of bargains to be had. We paid $1 for a Rickshaw ride back to our bus to head back to the ship. Vietnam was a unique place. Loved all the triangular hats, and the beaches. The prices were incredible and the pho was delicious. Another wonderful Asian country that I'd love to return to one day.