After having breakfast on the deck, with views of the impressive cloud-brushing Hong Kong skyline, we disembarked one last time from our cruise ship, and took a taxi to the Airport Express Kowloon train station to check-in (including luggage) for our midnight flight, and leave carry-ons in storage. A very organized and civilized way to travel. Then we took a taxi to the ferry terminal, and the Star Ferry to cross to the other side (Hong Kong Island) so we could take buses to visit different areas of Hong Kong:
March 19 marked the last port of call in our trip. We arrived at 16:00h, but had to wait until 17:00h to disembark because immigration authorities required ALL passengers to go through a face-to-face check, and a couple was missing (they found them an hour later). We were docked at Harbour City Ocean Terminal in Kowloon, so as soon as we disembarked, we walked through the massive shopping mall, and then onto the streets of Hong Kong in Kowloon side.
Saturday, March 18 the cruise was nearing its end as we sailed into China. Before disembarking, we took a galley tour. It’s always fascinating to see what an extremely efficient machine a large cruise ship’s galley has to be in order to prepare and serve (on time and at the right temperature) thousands of dishes each day. Upon disembarkation, a driver was sent to pick us up and take us to our destination, driving through Sanya:
Friday, March 17 we arrived in Chan May Port, where we were picked up by a driver and a guide, who drove us to Hoi An, passing through Da Nang, the American Air Force Hangars from the “Second Indochina War” (or “Vietnam War”, or “American War”), Dragon Bridge, Marble Mountain, China Beach, and Monkey Mountain. While Da Nang might be better known (and closer to Chan May’s port), we decided to take a bicycle ride around Cam Thanh (small village suburb of Hoi An), through Hai Ba Trung, next to the rice paddies and the Japanese Tomb, to the Water Coconut Palms to ride the round boats:
Thursday, March 16, was a day at sea. I spent most of it working (blessed be laptops and satellite internet connection), reading (Scientific American, The Economist, The London Review of Books, etc) and resting, trying to get rid of the fever I caught in Saigon. I must have been really sick when I did not even feel like taking a single picture! 🙂 But we also attended a cooking demonstration (involving liquid nitrogen) by Guest Chef Steven Chou, and a couple of lectures, one by Tim Wade on “Chan May and Sanya” and another one by Prof.
The following day, Wednesday, March 15, still in Saigon, we decided to “do Saigon like a Vietnamese”, and took a Saigon tour by Vespa: The first stop was the Bird Lover Club at Tao Dan Park, where a group of bird owners bring the elaborate bamboo cages to the park in the morning, and hang them in hooks for the birds to sing. There’s even a small Insect Market nearby, so the birds can get “fresh treats”.
Tuesday, March 14, upon disembarking near Saigon we were greeted by our driver and our guide, who drove us into town. This time our guide was not so sweet. He was quite professional, but after a while and some conversation you could see the influence of wild capitalism and Chinese imperialism, in subtlety aggressive attitudes and misogynistic comments. On the way he told us about the history of the country, the French occupation, and the War (they call it the American War, Americans and Europeans call it the Vietnam War, and officially it is the Second Indochina War).