Saturday, March 16, 2013

Our 115 day World Cruise, day 70, Nha Trang, Vietnam

Hello everyone how ever many there are of you out there!  lol!

Today I need to tell you where the Amsterdam really is!  The ship actually was in  Nha Trang, Vietnam yesterday but Bill and Mary Ann posted today.  Jeff has posted pictures from Cambodia and will rejoin the ship tomorrow in Singapore.  Meanwhile the Amsterdam is really At Sea!  lol!

Now for the rest of the story which is not as confusing nor as interesting as the people on the Amsterdam!  lol!

Went to coffee this morning...Sandi and Irwin were there and Sandi was not her usual self!  We got word that our other coffee friends are back from their cruise and that Sally is sick.   Vicki is going to call her and see how she is doing!

After coffee we took a run out to see Mark and the boys!  They were all busy cleaning and getting the house ready for Tami's homecoming next week!
                       Aaron has a hurt knee and is having an MRI next week!              

            Josh says," yes, I am loosing weight but mom and dad are winning the contest!"

We have to go back to work is the inside...tomorrow the outside!

Now I know you are all wondering what is in these 4 boxes....but I am not going to tell you...even Vicki is not sure what is in them....just wait until I open them!  lol!
  I know that this is really really hard but we have to do it!  Don't tell me you are not choosing to dance and why did I have to name the blog that anyway?                                                                              

Where we did not go today....but the Amsterdam did!

Postcards from Paradise! Bill and Mary Ann

 Nha Trang, Vietnam

Today turned out to be a really fun day for us. We have been to this city of Nha Trang many times, and have always taken an organized tour. The main attraction for tourists here is definitely the expanse of the clean, white sandy beach. Many fairly new high rise hotels line the main avenue facing this pretty beach. Other major sites include Cham Po Nagar Towers, a 7th century Hindu Temple complex, revered by the local Buddhists. The Pasteur Institute is also famous, where a student of Pasteur, Dr. Yersin, developed an antidote for the Bubonic Plague. He also brought quinine trees to Southeast Asia to fight malaria. At the Long Son Pagoda, 152 stone steps high on a knoll, sits a white Buddha seated on a lotus blossom. This temple pays tribute to the tragic deaths of some monks who protested the Vietnam War by lighting themselves on fire. Hard to believe it has been over 40 years ago when this all happened. Painful memories for some of us for sure, since there are many vets traveling on this cruise. We have to keep in mind that the newer generation only knows of this war from history books, and the prejudices do not exist here today from what we observe.

The local port authority kindly supplied several shuttle buses that took us from the ship to the Hai Yen Hotel, a 20 minute ride one way. We decided to have a light breakfast so we could eat lunch somewhere in town around 1pm. Once we got off of the bus, we walked to the main street, where we were met by many local vendors selling postcards, fans, paintings, and whistles. Truthfully, we already have it all from last year. Several other fellows lined up to offer us a ride in their pedicabs or cyclos, more like a three wheel trike that transports two passengers. They were probably really reasonable to ride in one, but we did need the exercise much more.

A very nice hotel along this street was the Sheraton. So we decided to go inside and check it out. Right in the front was a very nice patio with tables and padded chairs to enjoy drinks or lunch. This looked like the perfect place to dine on our way back. And once we spotted the menu that offered pizza, that sealed the deal. We have to mention that the money here in Vietnam is called dong. There are 20,000 dong to one US dollar. Wow! The ship does not sell it, because, thank goodness, the locals gladly accept US dollars. And credit cards of course.

From here, we continued on, following the map, to the Cho Dam central market. This semi-outdoor complex houses food, clothing, and souvenier stalls where one can easily get lost. When we arrived, there were a dozen HAL buses dropping off passengers to roam the many shops. Clothing here included silky tops, t-shirts, shoes, and children's items. The only problem is that most all of it is sized for the local Vietnamese, who tend to be rather small. And the marked size on each item meant nothing, not even the shoe sizes. Sure the prices were great, but do not work if nothing fits.

The fish, meat, and poultry sections were interesting. We walked past large trays of shrimp drying in the sun, or in this case, cloudy skies. This time there were flies all over it. Perhaps when the shrimp are cooked, all the extra protein is also cooked well enough to avoid parasites. It's just the accepted way of shopping for food in these countries.

We made our way back towards the beach, and took our time strolling shoreside. The persistant vendors from past visits were mostly gone, perhaps driven away by the police. So many hotels line this shoreline and a large number of them use this beach. Nice lounge chairs, well padded, and supplied with beach towels were available for rent in front of every hotel. Cement benches were placed every few yards, and we took the time to sit and relax briefly. At one point around high noon, a lady on a bike, stopped and brought over a large pot to us. We could see it was steaming, and when she uncovered it, hot lobsters were presented for sale. How we would possibly consume these without plates or silverware, we don't know. We politely said thanks, but no thanks. So here in Nha Trang, you wait long enough, and lunch will come to you.

There was no doubt that we would go back to the Sheraton for lunch. What was also a huge plus were the civilized and pristine washrooms at the hotel, where we freshened up before ordering. Wood-fired margherita pizzas and Tiger draught beer was what we ordered. Sitting outside in the breezy patio was a bit of heaven. Although there was a 25% chance of rain, it never happened, at least not in town. If the clouds had gone away, and the sun had come out, it would have been very uncomfortable. We must have spent at least an hour sitting, enjoying every bite of pizza, and watching the world go by. We did pay our bill with US dollars, but got back dong in change. It amounted to 45000 dong or about $2.50. We would have to spend it at the pier.

Continuing on, we walked the promenade further down the beach, passing the area where we ate lunch last year. We both agreed that the patio lunch at the Sheraton was a far better choice. Back at the bus drop-off, we bought 2 more bamboo fans, which by the way, are life-savers in these warm, humid climates. And the price was right...... 2 for $5.00.

Getting bck to the ship, we continued a little more shopping at the pier stands, although the watch vendors would not bargain. They won't do that if there are too many customers buying at their high prices. Today, the tables were full of crew members, trying to negotiate several watches for a better price. They were having no luck, and ended up paying double or more than what we paid in Manila.

Sailaway was at sunset. It had cooled off a lot, because a strong wind had come up. All we could see were bag after plastic bag being blown from the souvenier stands into the water at the end of the dock. They just do not care about litter in the harbor like we have been trained to not do. Or we should say most of us know better. Yesterday, we observed a lady on the aft deck, use a tissue then throw it overboard in the wind. She thought no one saw her do that. We bit our tongues, but maybe not next time if she continues doing that.

Dinnertime brought two couples as our guests to our table. Leta and Bill and Mel and Helen joined the five of us, since Carol and Van had left for Cambodia for three days. We had a grand time visiting with them, and we hope they enjoyed it. Both of the couples have tables for two, one upstairs, and the other down stairs. Frequently, they are able to eat dinner, and beat us out of the dining room an hour ahead of us. On busy port days such as this one, that can be a good thing.

We are now headed south towards the next exciting port of Singapore. Can't wait.

Bill & Mary Ann

 Siem Reap, Cambodia , Photos by Jeff

At the risk of repeating myself, here is a repost from part 1 of 3 parts....
The big day finally arrived.....  Our guide, Bun hak from Angkor Guide Services picked us up at 0450  in the wee hours of the morning for sunrise over Angkor Wat to kick off our Cambodian adventure.  The sunrise experience and the subsequent tour of Angkor Wat was fabulous....  We then headed for breakfast and a needed break from the heat.  Refreshed, we headed out once again, this time we went to the Angkor Thom area were we first visited Bayon with it's giant heads...  just amazing!!!  We walked from there to the Elephant Terrace, very nice...  Then we headed to Prah Khan, a pretty large temple....  just loving it....  There is a huge difference now from when I was here in 2008....  so many people.  Way too many.  This place has become quite popular.  That plus all the renovations take away a bit of the charm.   Oh well, I digress....  After Prah Khan we headed to what was my favorite in 200, Ta Promh.  Now with all the people and renovations it has definitely lost a step or two when it comes to being spectacular.  Then we took a 3 hour lunch break and headed out again around 3:00 pm.  First up was a quick stop at Pre Rup,a very, very old temple.  I was supposed to come here for sunset but changed my mind.  Then it was off to Banteay Srei, a very lovely complex with amazing carvings in the stone.  My final stop was at Banteay Kdei, an unscheduled stop but a very worthy one.  It was one of my favorite stops for the day.  All in all it made for an amazing day....  That is why there are 3 posts.....  This is part 3 of 3......

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