Chan May, Vietnam

May 25 and 26, 2023

We arrived in Chan May on Thursday at about 4 PM. There is really nothing much near the cruise port so we just went to the small tourist shopping area on the port itself. We had fun looking but didn’t buy anything. Still very hot here. We had a dinner reservation in Polo Grill tonight, so relaxed and had a wonderful dinner.

Our plan for Friday was a full day trip to Da Nang and Hoi An. Although we have been to Vietnam many times, we had not visited Hoi An. It was a favorite for our son and daughter in law when they came on their honeymoon, so we wanted to experience it. Last time we were here we went to Hue and enjoyed that very much. Both are quite far from the port, it can take up to 2 hours each way. It took us about 90 minutes.

Our guide was Tuan. He told us lots of interesting facts about Vietnam and this central area. From here, it is only about 30 miles to Laos. He was born and raised in a small village near here. He told us that 9% of the population is Buddhist and about 8% is Catholic. The rest have no religion but worship their ancestors. They don’t celebrate birthdays (the first birthday celebration he ever experienced was when he was at college and his peers had a party for his 18h birthday). On the anniversary of a loved one’s death, the family buys cherished items made of paper (could be clothes, food, items like phones, etc) to “give” to the departed. Then they burn the items. You see these paper items in all of the markets.

He talked about tourism which has really suffered during covid and is still only 30% of what it was before. Since 1995 when the relationship between the US and Vietnam normalized, the country has grown and modernized a lot. Tuan said they can talk about anything now and that the only thing they are prohibited from doing is to form another political party. It is a one party Communist system but in reality the country is quite capitalistic. They do vote in local elections but national is ruled by the single party.

Almost everyone has a motorbike here. They cost about $1000 US (which is about the price of a water buffalo, so sometimes they trade them!)And you just have to cross the street and hope they stop for you. You cannot wait for a break because there aren’t any. It is far worse in the big cities but still treacherous here.

The population is 100 million. We stopped in Da Nang on our way to Hoi An. The population there is 1.2 million and it is the third largest city after Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). He said there is no homeless problem at all. If anyone sees a homeless person, they are instructed to call the police. You are paid $10 for the call and the police take the person to learn a trade and they provide a place to live during the training in a training center. He also said that local governments are very responsive to social media, phone calls and email and answer within 24 hours. The minimum wage here is $368/month US and at that level there is no income tax. Otherwise there is a 10% income tax here. Of course, as soon as you exchange enough US money for Dong, you become a millionaire because 1 million Dong equals $42 US.

The scenery is quite beautiful on the way to Da Nang. You go through a 4 mile tunnel under the mountains which are on one side of the highway and the ocean and river is on the other side. We passed a few fishing villages.

Once in Da Nang, we went to the Cham museum which has sandstone carvings dating back as early as the 7th and 8th century. It is a small but very well done museum with amazing carvings from the Cham dynasty era. First I tried to get a good shot of the famous dragon bridge but it was hard to get the whole thing in a single shot. I heard it is amazing at night.

I will post some pictures from the museum and try not to overwhelm you. Each one seemed more interesting than the last.

After the museum we startted toward Hoi An. We stopped at a marble factory mostly to use the rest room because we wouldn’t get another chance until lunch time. The marble carvings were pretty spectacular. Tuan said there are 5 colors of marble and it is mined on the other side of the mountains from here. Here are some of the large carvings. They also have small ones there.

These are $26,000 US including shipping. We didn’t buy one.

We arrived in Hoi An before 11 AM which Tuan said was good because buses are not allowed to drive there after 11. Hoi An has a population of about 120,000 and is noted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999. It is an ancient town on the bank of the Thu Bon River which used to be the international port until it became too shallow. The town has Japanese, Chinese and European influences and is a well preserved complex of over 1100 timber frame buildings. The housees are tiled and the wooden components are carved with traditional motifs. They are arranged side by side in tight unbroken rows along narrrow pedestrian streets.

The buildings front the street for convenient customer access and the backs open to the river allowing easy loading and off loading of goods from boats.

The town is just beautiful, full of lanterns, colorful markets and buildings and historic 17th and 18th century townscapes.

We visited an ancient house with original carvings and furniture. The river floods almost every year and there are openings in the ceilings which allow a lift to move all of the furniture up to a higher floor during the rainy season.

These markers show how high the water has reached in past years

We had a long walk around the town, time for some shopping and then went to a lovely restaurant for lunch.

We stopped at the Fukien Museum and saw the site of the famous Japanese bridge. This mural covered the bridge because it is under renovation.

Of course, I have to take pictures of signs along the way.

50 Celsius that is….

We had a terrific lunch with plenty of non meat options for me.

For every course, they brought me something with seafood or vegetarian
Just the appetizer and salad
The local beer

It was a lovely day – still quite hot, and I did buy a fan from a local vendor.

When we got back to the ship we found that a pigeon had come to visit on our balcony! It stayed all night and left a mess on the floor. We chased it in the morning.

We have a day at sea on Saturday – lots going on but we can stay cool! There is a Facebook live filming with some of our friends and also our guest chefs and our enrichment speaker- if you want to see the recording, you can view it on the Oceania Cruises Facebook page. I will go to be in the audience.

Tomorrow we have the first of two days at Ho Chi Minh City.

This entry was posted in Asia, Excursions, Food, May, World Cruise #4. Bookmark the permalink.

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