11.03.2014 - 11.03.2014
This morning we arrived at the dining room about the time it opened at 7:00 and ordered the "express breakfast." We received it promptly and were ready to go ashore when when the ship was cleared to begin letting off its passengers at 7:30. We were met promptly by our guide, who led us to a Toyota van similar to the one we had two days earlier. Again, in addition to a guide, we had a driver and a helper, and we set forth toward Danang, passing through a long tunnel on the way. Beyond the centre of the city and saw the odd-shaped "marble mountains" and also some of the statuary that is a specialty of the area. We stopped at a beach from which we could see the tall "lady Buddha" statue and looked at a vast array of boats including the small round boats that are common to the area.
We went on toward Hoi An, our destination, but we made another stop along the way, this time to tour a large organic vegetable farm. A wide variety of vegetables are grown on small plots and carefully tended by the workers.
Arriving in Hoi An, we left the van and in half a block we entered the UNESCO World Heritage zone of this small city which was a very active trading centre for several centuries. Its buildings are colourful (many of them yellow) and of different architecture and ages. We visited the small museum and two old merchant homes and also one temple, all very interesting. A main feature of the town is the Japanese covered bridge, build in the 16th century or possibly even earlier.
By the end of the morning, we were not hungry, but we were thirsty, and we told our guide how much we had enjoyed Vietnamese coffee in Saigon. He agreed with the suggestion but recognized that we should go to a "good" restaurant to be sure of the quality of the ice. He led us to one that he trusted, and once more we enjoyed the refreshing beverage. Then we started back toward the ship. He had me speak on his phone to the manager, who wanted to be sure that we really wanted to return early from our excursion. I assured her that we did; we had been very satisfied with our visit, and we did not want to shop though there were certainly many opportunities in Hoi An.
We got back to the Millennium at about two o'clock, still in time to get a light late lunch at the buffet. Then we enjoyed resting before dinner. Hoi An has a population near that of Guelph, though of course the historic district is only a small part of the city. Traffic in the historic section is restricted to pedestrians and motorbikes. It was a refreshing contrast to the large cities that we have visited and will visit on the rest of the cruise, an excellent choice for an excursion.