Day 65–Fri., Mar. 11, 2011–Phu My, Vietnam

     Good Morning Vietnam!  It didn’t feel very good getting up at 5:20 am.  The port of Phu My (pronounced Foo Me) is the gateway to Ho Chi Minh City and the seaside resort of Vung Tau.  Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam and is located near the Mekong River delta.  Under the name Prey Nokor, it was the main port of Cambodia, before being conquered by the Vietnamese in the 16th century.  Known as Saigon until the end of the Vietnam War, it was the capital of the French colony of Cochinchina, and later of the former state of South Vietnam from 1954 to 1975.  In 1975, Saigon was merged with the surrounding province of Gia Dinh and renamed Ho Chi Minh City (although Saigon is still frequently used).  The city center is situated on the banks of the Saigon River, 37 miles from the South China Sea.  We met Ann & Lorrin at 6:45 am for our tour with Smile Tours.  Our guide was Mr. Thuan and our driver was Mr. Dung.  We paid the $20 extra fee and they were right there at the ship to meet us.  It was so worth it for “door to door” service. IMG_4356 We had about a two-hour ride into the city but the van was air-conditioned and in good shape.  We even had a few extra seats.  The ride in showed us a lot of construction along the road to widen it and on many of the buildings.

Family of Four

Everything was dusty and the riders on the scooters wore face masks.  The first place we went to was the Water Puppet show.  IMG_4372I went with most of the ladies to the rest room and Ray went on to get a seat.  I didn’t see him when I went in so I sat in the front row on the side.  I spotted him and he motioned to me that he fell.  I just can’t leave that man alone!  Some guy rushed over and put something on his knee.  That one feels pretty good but the other one is sore.  We then went to see the Independence or Reunification Palace.  Pretty much like any other government building.  Today was class trip day.  We then drove to the Jade Emperor Pagoda.

IMG_4437  IMG_4446 (2)edit

We were then taken to a Handicapped Handcrafts market where inlay work is done.  Absolutely beautiful work.IMG_4459 

Our next stop was seeing the Hundred Years Red Cathedral (Notre Dame Cathedral) and the Post Office.

IMG_4464 Post Office

We had lunch at Pho 2000 Noodle Restaurant where President Clinton stopped to eat.  I finally ate off the ship and Ray and I had delicious shrimp spring rolls.  We then went across the street for a quick shopping trip in the Ben Thanh Market.

The end of the tour was a drive by the city center.   We had a quick stop to go to the rooftop garden in the Rex.  First picture is the City Hall, the second is the Opera House and the last is the Rooftop Garden of the Rex Hotel.  The rest are from the drive back to the port.

City Hall The Opera House IMG_4495 Bananas for Sale IMG_4517 IMG_4519

The public and government buildings were very nice and the rest did not look nice at all.  Of course all we saw was what was on the highway.  We did not get a chance to see what was behind the road.  It was hot, but it was not that bad because we kept getting in the A/C van.  We got back to the ship about 4 PM and there were some vendors there. 

     The entertainment was International award-winning vocalist Eve Sherratt.  She was very good but I was so tired I left early.  It was a long, busy day.  I had to take a lot of the pictures out of this post so it wouldn’t take as long to download.

     We heard about the Japanese Earthquake on return to the ship.  We are all fine and not in the way of any Tsunami.  What can we say, the pictures are just devastating.  We loved our visit to Japan in 2007.

“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.”                             –Samuel Johnson-

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