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April 12th 2011
Published: April 12th 2011
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We started hearing the wail of the ship's horn at 5am--so I knew we were getting close to beautiful HaLong Bay. Because of the rock formations which fill the Bay, the horn had a perfect echo. The little fishing skiffs were out in force and they definitely don't like to pull up their nets just so some fancy boat can pass unimpeded. We have been to this area of Vietnam five times but we still marvel at the massive limestone karsts dotting the landscape. It was a mystically misty morning.

Our docking coincided with opening day of the baseball season back home and believe it or not we watched the World Champion San Francisco Giants take on the LA Dodgers at 7am our time. It was a great game except--- we lost. But then there are 161 games left in the season.

As soon as the game was over we hopped on the shuttle bus with Steve and Karolyn. Once in town we began the bargaining process for a junk boat that would take us out to the karsts and caves. We settled on a price of $20 a head for a two hour boat ride on a 60' teak junk. We sat up in the pilot house to a get a better view of this World Heritage Site. We saw the houseboat community and the school boat and the small skiffs which supply the boat people with their fresh fruits and other staples. It seems that these water people have a pretty good life --as a fellow boater, I could take living in this beautiful area, with fresh air and quiet over some of the frenetic cities in this part of the world.

We made our second stop in Vietnam at the port of Chan May. There is not much tourist-wise in the surrounding area. All of the shipā€™s tours go to the ancient capitol of Hue or the other heritage site of Hoi An. Having previously visited both, we decided to spend the day pampering ourselves at a nearby resort. A walk on the beach, a quiet lunch and a massage were just the right antidote to our recent encounters with cold, smog and big city sights.

Morton Dean is the celebrity speaker on board for this segment. He is most well known for his television coverage of the Vietnam conflict. He has a wealth of war stories and film clips of his in-depth reporting from that era. We had dinner one night with Morton and Mary and Sandra Bowern, the other guest lecturer. He told us some vivid stories which would not find their way into his shipboard lecture series.

We always enjoy the three hour cruise up the river to Saigon--especially when we don't hook fishing nets. This busy river is part of the Mekong Delta which is the lifeblood of South Vietnam.
We took a shuttle into town and went in search of a jade ring to mark our 38th wedding anniversary. We found just the right one and it fit perfectly.

We met up with Bob and Lucia at the remodeled Rex Hotel. During the Vietnam war this was BOQ (Batchelor Officers Quarters) for the US military and the roof top bar was a popular waterhole for reporters and officers. Morton Dean said this is where the daily press briefings, called the "Five O'Clock Follies" took place. Bob, an Army chopper pilot during the war, actually had quarters in the Rex.

That evening we celebrated Chick's "Fab 50." He almost didn't make it to his own birthday party
Dr Steve & KarolynDr Steve & KarolynDr Steve & Karolyn

Ha Long Bay by Junk
because he and Sue had to take a taxi from town to the port and the driver couldn't find the right pier and after much searching he finally got them to the port gate. From there they had to hike to the ship--no short distance. We gave Chick a BUFE ( see picture)which we had ordered from one of the vendors on the pier earlier in the day. We had an Indian dinner and lots of champagne to note his half century mark.

Two days later we had our anniversary party--a more private affair. We exchanged cards and gifts, played some games and had a lovely starlit dinner on our balcony. Kevin calls our life together "A Vietnam Love Story." So what better place to celebrate our 38th anniversary!!

Additional photos below
Photos: 20, Displayed: 20


2 Chickens Chatting2 Chickens Chatting
2 Chickens Chatting

Or fighting cock rock
The Mosque ShipThe Mosque Ship
The Mosque Ship

See the Mosque?
Fran & GeorgeFran & George
Fran & George

Dinner on the fantail on Halong Bay
Lunch at the BeachLunch at the Beach
Lunch at the Beach

Chan May, Vietnam
Morton Dean and MaryMorton Dean and Mary
Morton Dean and Mary

Last year's party picture
Chick's 50thChick's 50th
Chick's 50th

Still going strong!

Big Ugly Freaking Elephant
Pho 24Pho 24
Pho 24

Our favorite soup restaurant

22nd March 2013

BUFE black market
In Saigon Circa 1968-72 a contract refrigeration ship looped from Phillipines bringing food for troops in Vietnam (mostly commissary, embassy etc) stopping at major ports from DaNang to Saigon about every two to three weeks. In Saigon the ships Pilot House would be loaded with BUFEs destined to USA via the highest bidder in the Phillipines. Very popular at that time. By the way the F in BUFE usually stood for f__king :-)

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