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Da Nang and Hanoi

VIETNAM | Wednesday, 4 February 2015 | Views [533] | Comments [1]


Famous "Kissing Rocks" in Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

To Americans, Da Nang is most famous as the original landing place of the US Marines in 1965.  After that, China Beach became a massive US supply depot and R&R location.

We docked in a nearby port city, then took a bus through a tunnel, through the city of Da Nang (third largest in Vietnam after Saigon and Hanoi), and up into a tiny lush green valley to visit ruins left by the Cham Empire, dating from the 4th to the 13th centuries.  Much like Angkor Wat in Cambodia though on a much smaller scale, these were a series of temples and compounds reserved for the use of the upper class and priests.  The preservation level was pretty good, considering that they were older than Angkor Wat.  The Cham were expert builders with brick, and although they didn’t have mortar, they used tree sap to glue the bricks together—a technique which clearly lasted for a very long time.

We stopped at a factory that produced marble carvings of all sizes, shapes, and themes, got some shopping done, then back to the ship for departure to Hanoi.  As we had been warned, a strong cross wind started bouncing us around pretty badly as soon as we pulled out of the harbor.  After we were underway for about an hour and a half, the PA system came on with “Code Mike, Code Mike, Code Mike.  Voyager lounge, deck 5.”  That’s a medical emergency call, and we’re not real sure what happened yet.  Anyway, about an hour later, the PA came alive again, telling us that we had no choice but to turn around and head back to Da Nang to get the stricken passenger the help he needed.  That delayed our arrival in Hanoi by about five hours, but we didn’t have anything really exciting planned until the evening.

We parked in Ha Long Bay.  Hanoi was about four hours away by bus, and although some passengers took the option, we decided to check out the area near the ship.  The first striking feature was the 9-year old suspension bridge crossing Ha Long Bay.  When the sun went down, the lights came on, and the entire bridge was lit in green lights…..which changed to pink, then blue, and on and on.  At one point, the entire bridge was lit up like a rainbow, and the light show went on all night.

The first night we went to a nice hotel in town and saw a production of a traditional water puppet show.  There was a live band and singers, providing the audio for the show—think muppets standing on a stage of water, operated by rigid wire from behind screens, with the wires hidden underwater.  Characters included farmers and fishermen and their wives, fish, ducks, dragons, and water buffalo.  It was a pretty fun event.

The next day we took a small boat on a tour of Ha Long Bay, and their world famous monoliths—sandstone karst rocks, some small, some quite large, sticking up out of the bay.  There was a lot of fog on the bay, and the looming monoliths, fading in and out of the mist was simultaneously eerie and beautiful.

We are nearing the end of this phase of the cruise.  Phase 1 was Cape Town to Singapore, when about 80% of the passengers debarked and were replaced by new.  Phase 2 is Singapore to Hong Kong, where many will debark, but about 100 of the originals from Cape Town will stay on board for the last leg to Beijing.  Rumor has it that the ship will have lots of empty cabins on the Hong Kong to Beijing leg.

By the way, we will now be headed further north each day. Yesterday it was 25ºF in Kobe, Japan, and in Beijing.  Bye-bye tropics.   




I did not realize you were jumping over to Japan before you end up in Beijing...from the frying pan into the freezer! Have fun in Hong Kong....get ready for another crush of people!

  Stephen the Elder Feb 7, 2015 10:59 AM

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