March 06, 2016

World Cruise 2016 Day 61

Day 61 Da Nang, Vietnam. Our captain and his staff earned their salary as we pulled into the Da Nang harbor this morning. The fog was so heavy I could not see down to the water from outside on deck nine. We moved very slowly, but were only about 30 to 45 minutes late arriving safely at the port.

Within an hour of docking the sun came out and burned off the fog. Temperatures rose into the low 70's and it was another perfect day.

Vietnam ports are emotionally difficult for some of the veterans on board that served here during the Vietnam war. It is beyond my comprehension to understand all the emotions they are experiencing. Some look forward to visiting some sites, others refuse to get off the ship.

We are docked at Da Nang harbor, an industrial port with no facilities for cruise ships. We are sharing a dock with one ship that is unloading coal into trucks, and another ship that is loading what we think are bags of rice. A portable 10x10 enclosure is brought onto the pier by forklift to serve as a customs and immigration checkpoint.

The next pier is unloading scrap iron from a ship into trucks. The largest operation at the port is a facility that makes wood chips from logs. The piles of wood chips will probably fill a half dozen ships, I suspect at the dock we are occupying.

This port also supports a large container shipping operation. Our tour guide told us that the majority of the outgoing cargo originates in neighboring Laos.

I take a long tour to Hoi An, an area relatively untouched by the war with structures that date back to the seventeenth century. We visit the usual temples, historic buildings, museums, and shopping areas. One of the more unusual stops was a factory where they were starting with silk worms, gathering the silk, weaving fabric, and producing finished goods. The fabrics were beautiful and the craftsmanship exquisite. Basic electric sewing machines that looked like 1940's design were the only modern machines. They made custom garments ready to pick up in as little as 90 minutes. Several passengers bought shirts, blouses, and dresses.

There is a large marble carving industry here. They range in size from a few ounces that will easily fit in the palm of your hand to some that are 15 feet high and weigh many tons. Of course they would ship everything. I don't think my HOA would allow a 10 ton Happy Buddha in my front yard, so I pass.

We also make a brief stop at "China Beach" now officially called Holiday Beach. The beach is pristine, and often visited by tourists from Russia and Japan. Driving past the former location of the US airbase, there are some buildings still standing, a few new buildings constructed in the area, but most of the area is undeveloped because of heavy ground contamination.

Our tour guide, Joe, did a good job. This is a part time job that he only does for cruise ship tours. His primary occupation is a history and geography school teacher. Since he is doing another tour tomorrow, he is spending the night in Da Nang as where he lives is an 8 hour drive from the port.

Tomorrow I plan to take the shuttle bus into the city of Da Nang.