March 09, 2016

World Cruise 2016 Day 64

Day 64 Phu My & Ho Chi Minh City. No retired person on vacation should be required to set an alarm clock for 5:30 in the morning as I did this morning for my tour of Saigon.

Phu My is an industrial port. As was done in Da Nang, they move a portable office on to the pier to use as an immigration checkpoint. The buses are located less than 50 feet from the end of the gangway. We board the bus at 6:45, just after the start of the eclipse. I think the only people that were aware of it were those that I told. A 50% coverage was not enough to reduce the light level a noticeable amount. Between the heavily tinted bus window and my tinted glasses I was able to see the partial eclipse. On a TV at the hotel where we were having lunch the headlines were about the excitement created in Indonesia by the full eclipse.

I don't know what it is, but there is something jinxing my tour buses. Today as we boarded our bus after a stop in downtown Saigon the bus driver was cited by local police for something. We weren't told what it was about, but the driver and 3 or 4 police officers were engaged in a heated argument for half an hour as we waited. We were beginning to wonder if we might be stranded without a driver. Eventually the driver boarded and we were on our way. No explanation was given by the driver our our English speaking guide.

The guide was the worst I have experienced. He would tell us we were going to do one thing, and then he would do something else. He would not give us guidance on where or when to meet or find the bus even when specifically asked. Some people would stop to use the restroom pointed out by the guide, and the guide would just walk away leaving a number of passengers wondering where he went. At one point he led us on a 12 or 16 block non-stop walk to board the bus exactly where we started.

Probably the guide contributed to my opinion, but I was unimpressed with the tour, and with Saigon. Streets were crowded with motor bikes, pollution was significant, and living conditions for most residents was very poor. On the plus side some new hotels have been built and they are making a major push to attract tourists. At a museum stop we encountered about 100 young army cadets. They were very friendly and enjoyed meeting and having their picture taken with the Americans.

I did learn that earlier in the week there were four cruise ships in the same industrial port of Phu My where we were. Their problem was there were not enough buses for the tours.

Tomorrow is a sea day. Our course will take us Southwest around the southern tip of Vietnam, and then Northwest to Sihanoukville, Cambodia. It was hot today, and I am tired. Sleeping late tomorrow.