DaNang and Hoi An

Trip Start Mar 18, 2011
1
15
24
Trip End Apr 15, 2011


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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Da Nang and Hoi An

We did an all day tour today.  Started at the pier with another really good tour guide.  He began with boiling down the history of Vietnam Nam to three numbers. 1000, 100, 20.  1000 years of Chinese rule, 100 years of French rule and 20 years of civil war.

DaNang 
We drove through the city and saw a museum with artifacts from the the Cham people.  They were Hindus and lived in Central Vietnam a bazillions years ago.  Seemed like a sneak preview of Angkor Wat.  We then drove along China Beach, famous for being the place where the Americans had their R&R during the war.  What a beautiful beach!  And, although it was the middle of the day on Sunday, there was no one on the beach.  Our guide explained that the Vietnamese avoid the sun, they want to be a light skinned as possible, so they only go swimming very early in the morning or after 5 pm.  Sure enough, on our drive back late in the afternoon, there were many more people on the beach.  China beach is undergoing huge development with several high end hotel chains putting up luxury resorts.  Apparently they have not provided for public beach access though and some people who used to walk less than a kilometer to the beach now have to travel ten kilometers to swim. Oh, and the government has declared that it is not called China Beach any more, but apparently has been  given local names, none of which were told to us.
 
We learned that there are 5 mountains around Da Nang.  We made the obligatory tourist stop, ostensibly to view the Marble Mountain, but also to purchase marble, jade and onyx works. Actually if you are in the market for a gigantic marble fountain, I know where you can get a good deal and they ship.
 
We then were off to Hoi An, a very old town full of French architecture.  It is a UNESCO world Heritage site.  It is a town full of little shops with lots of cloth.  You can get clothing made to order there if you have more than an hour.  Saw very interesting designs too. We toured a meeting hall and temple built by Chinese immigrants and a merchants house, inhabited by the seventh generation of the family that owned it.  It floods every year and then have marks on the wall to show how high the flood waters have come each year.

We had lunch in Hoi An in a very peaceful and beautiful restaurant with a river running behind it and trees full of paper lanterns.  It was a buffet lunch and was fantastic.  I didn't  taste anything I didn't love.  Many fresh salads, yummy squid, curries, spring rolls.  For dessert - exotic fruit, they love gummy coconut candy here, caramel custard. It was all wonderful.

After lunch, some shopping (maybe too much I am afraid) and then back to the ship.  We drove through many rice paddies (Vietnam is second only to Thailand in rice production) on the way, even saw some water buffalo.  Our tour guide told us some wartime personal stories.  He told us to tell our friends how wonderful Vietnam is so they will bring tourist $ and someday Vietnam will have democracy.  He made it very clear that from his point of view the ordinary people, none of whom are Communist party members, have no voice in their government.  That said, he didn't appear to be unhappy with his life and was really a Vietnam booster.  Everyone has been extraordinarily friendly.

  Day at sea next and then two days in Saigon, oh excuse me, Ho Chi Minh (the locals still call it Saigon).
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Comments

Mindy on

I have this wonderful mental image of an empty suitcase slowly filling to beyond capacity with every shopping stop. Serious question: is the rice there any different from what we get in the US? Does fresh apply to rice?

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