We sailed into the harbor of Nha Trang, Vietnam this morning at 8:00.
This was a tender port and they didn't seem to be very efficient with them. There were long waits to get on and off the ship. It is very hot and humid here. I'm not sure why we even stopped here. We'll be in Ho Chi Minh City tomorrow and there wasn't much to see here. But it was an interesting stop to see how the people live here. It is a very poor country. Almost nobody drives cars, you see very few of them on the road. Motorbikes are the most common mode of transportation. Below is a picture of beautiful downtown Nha Trang. A City of about 80,000 people.
The tour here in Nha Trang was conducted by college students. Our guide was nice and tried hard but had a very limited knowledge of the English language. Our first stop was at the great Cham Tower which is pictured below. I know this is a sacred temple to the Vietnamese people but wasn't able to understand much more from the guide.
We spent most of the rest of the day on a small boat cruising down the Cai River.
During our cruise down the river was passed a fishing village and saw fishermen on their rickety boats.
We stopped at three different villages along the way where we were fed fresh fruit and coconut milk.
Weather today was cloudy with a little very light rain. Considering a typhoon hit not too far from here less than 48 hours ago that wasn't too bad. I am still fighting that cold but haven't let it stop me. Will write more tomorrow.
The video then shifts to the Diamond Princess back in Phu My as we prepare to depart.
Reunification Palace, Post Office, Rex Hotel, U.S. Embassy, City Hall, Museum, water puppet show.
We docked in Phu My, Vietnam before sunrise this morning. By shortly after 7:00 I was off the ship and on my way to Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City as it is called today. Saigon is 50 miles from the port city of Phu My. It takes over two hours to get there on Vietnam's "unique" road system. As was the case yesterday, motorbikes are everywhere. But here add cars, trucks and buses into the mix. The most entertaining part of the day was just watching the traffic. It is something you would have to see to believe. Millions of scooters weaving in and out of traffic. When passing other vehicles there is about an eye lash's width between the two. Whole families ride on one small scooter with tiny babies perched in between. And they carry everything on these small bikes. We saw one man with a washing machine strapped to the back of the bike driving it down the road. All but the busiest intersections have no traffic lights or signs of any kind. And we were traveling on Vietnam's National Road. A bumpy decrepit road with every type of vehicle from a large modern bus to and ox cart on it. Cattle grazing on the side of the road. And every ten miles or so you had to stop and pay a toll for the privilege of traveling on this deluxe thoroughfare. I would have included a photo of the traffic, I took a lot of video of it but I didn't realize I didn't get any stills.
Our first stop was the National History Museum. While there we saw a water puppet show. Next it was off to Reunification Palace which was formerly the Presidential Palace of the Republic of South Vietnam. The building is still used for state visits. See pictures below.
Next we stopped at the Notre Dame Cathedral. 9% of the Vietnamese people are Catholic.
Today's shopping stop was at the Tay Son Lacquer Factory which was followed by a very nice lunch at a local hotel. During the meal we were entertained by singers, dancers and musicians.
After lunch our first stop was at Chinatown's Sea Goddess Temple.
Below is a statue of Ho Chi Minh in front of City Hall.
Below is a picture of the Rex Hotel. This is where all the journalists stayed and filed their reports during the Vietnam war.
Next it was a two hour drive back to the ship where we were once again mesmerized by the traffic. There are no McDonalds or Starbucks here. In fact the only western chain I saw was KFC. Our tour guide said they were going to get some McDonalds soon. They don't eat much meat here. Our tour guide was an interesting guy. Full of off-color jokes and had no problem with telling us very intimate details of his life.
At 6:00 this evening we sailed away. That's me below on the deck of the Diamond Princess just shortly before we sailed away.
It was a very fun day. Vietnam definitely was not a place of scenic beauty. Very hot and humid. But very interesting just to observe their culture. Tomorrow is a sea day as we make our way to Singapore.
Lots more to come, so stay tuned.
Today was a sea day as we make our way to Singapore. I had a nice surprise last evening. At the beginning of the cruise you can sign up for a tour of the ship. Then they draw the names out of a hat for those that signed up. Then those select few get to take the tour. Well guess who got chosen? Yep, little ole me.
There were only six of us on the tour. The tour lasted close to three hours. Our first stop was the bridge. There we were introduced to the Captain. The captain talked to us for quite a while and showed us all the instruments and how the bridge is run. The ship's wheel is actually about one third the size of your car steering wheel.
Next the Staff Captain, who is second in command, took us into the rafters of the ship where we saw the ventilation system and other mechanical systems of the ship.
Basically we covered almost all areas of the ship. The head of each department conducted the tour for that aspect of the ship. The chief engineer showed us the engine room. That was also very interesting. The ship burns about one million dollars of fuel every 8 or 9 days on average. He probably has the hardest job on the ship. He seems to be responsible for just about everything. Producing the electricity, making fresh water from the sea water, repairing and maintaining absolutely everything on the ship and much more.
We went back stage at the Princess Theater, home to Princess’ sparkling stage productions. We meet the cast and production staff, who will showed us what goes into making sure the show goes on night after night, including costumes and dressing areas, scenery and technical operations such as lighting and sound.
The tour continued through the galley where we saw them preparing all the food. The laundry where they do several tons of laundry each day. The print shop where they print the ship's daily newspaper. The photo lab where they print about 25,000 pictures every seven days. It was a very interesting tour.
We were not allowed to take pictures on the tour. But the ships photographer took pictures of us in several departments. Those are the pictures I posted above. We were also given some gifts. One was a very nice terry cloth robe. But it weighs a ton. My luggage is already over weight. The airline will probably charge me a fortune assuming I can even fit in my luggage.
After the tour my VIP status was over and I had to return to the real world and do my laundry.
The picture below is of the ship as we sailed away from Vietnam last night.
Will send a report from Singapore tomorrow.
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