First Day in Vietnam

Trip Start Jan 28, 2013
Trip End Mar 02, 2013

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Flag of Vietnam  , Hồ Chí Minh,
Sunday, February 17, 2013

Vietnam is THE reason why we wanted to take this cruise. And we're finally here!

The excursion we signed up for today was the Mekong Delta in Depth by Van, followed by An Evening Out in Saigon. Ira, Lucy, and the two of us went in van #5, together with 2 other couples – Chris had business meeting today and Fran did not want to go. The destination was about a 2-hour drive. It was interesting to see the MANY motor bikes on the road! It’s comparable to the bicycles in China, 30 years ago! Apparently motor bikes (mopeds) are the major means of transportation here. One motor bike can take a whole family of 4 or 5, believe it or not! Today was the 8th day of Chinese New Year and the last holiday – people will be back at work tomorrow. This apparently made traffic worse than usual. We ran into some major traffic jam. We left our ship around 9:20, and got to the Mekong river boating place close to noon time. The 8 of us, plus our guide, got on a motor boat, which took us for a ride on the river, as well as visits to a few places along the river.

One place we visited was where they made popped rice and a few other things such as coconut candies, rice wraps, etc. Another place we visited was someone’s private home and garden. Then the boat took us through some small channels, before taking us to the Mekong Riverside Resort & Spa for lunch. The Mekong Riverside Resort was a luxury place, with over-the-water bungalows and a nice restaurant. We had a good lunch there. The most interesting and most delicious thing was the sticky rice ball, which was fried and blown up to the size of a small soccer ball. And it was DELICIOUS! We asked for a 2nd one for our table, plus some extra! I could have eaten one all by myself! Yum!!

It was already past 3pm when we finished our lunch, and we started on our way back to the ship right then. Of course, we ran into the same traffic jam as on the way coming this way. By the time we got back to the ship, it was past 6:30pm and the sun had already set.

Bob and I signed up (and paid for) for the Evening Out in Saigon, regretfully. It was my idea – I was thinking this would be an evening on our own to explore Saigon. Wrong! It was to watch some show followed by an organized dinner. By the time we got back to the ship, the buses were ready to leave already. The ship staff told us not to worry – they would arrange another bus for us (a number of us were late from the Mekong Delta excursion). Bob and I quickly changed out of our shorts, but the buses left already by the time we came to the gangway. They arranged for a van to take us to the Majestic hotel where we watched the show.

The show was very amateurish. The Majestic hotel seemed to be a fancy old hotel. The show was on the 8th floor, on the roof top half open terrace which had a great view of the Saigon river. The hotel had 2 elevators, one of which seemed to have problems. On our way up, we heard loud banging of the other elevator. Later we learned that people were stuck there for a while. Each elevator took around 8 or 9 people, max, before it would malfunction. And we had more than 50 people from the cruise …..

Dinner was at a different place, which was less than 10 minutes away. It was good. We met a couple of more fellow passengers and had a good chat. Food wise, I would have been much happier if we got some authentic Vietnamese noodles!! But I guess other passengers would be happier with this type of food.

Back to the ship before 11pm. Tomorrow we need to get up early, at 6am – our private tour will start at 8am. I’m looking forward to seeing a little more of Saigon!

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