The city offered a free shuttle bus to and from the port into the town. After breakfast we walked off the ship to the waiting bus for the 30 minute ride into the city. The bus conveniently ran every 20 minutes and dropped us off in the heart of the city. A welcome tent had been set up in the parking lot and we asked where the closest supermarket was located. They told us a ten minute walk and pointed us in the right direction. It wasn’t a bad walk except for crossing the busy streets which could be a harrowing experience with all the crazy motor scooters. Fortunately many streets had pedestrian crosswalks with lights telling us when to cross. We reminded ourselves, once you start across don’t stop even if you are scared. We learned not all motor scooters honor the crosswalks. Everyone is always in such a hurry. Some things are the same worldwide, aren’t they.
We took the escalator up to the supermarket entrance and got a shopping cart. Bill was stopped by a security guard because he had on a backpack. He had to go over to a young man and leave his backpack there and get a ticket like a coat check stand. We weren’t too concerned about leaving it since we didn’t have anything of much value inside.
We were looking for Coke for Bill, 7 Up or Sprite for me and bottled water. The water on the ship tastes really bad. We asked the ship’s restaurant manager about it and he said they make their own water using a process converting sea water. And believe me, it tastes like it. They also serve tea on the ship which is also pretty bad. No amount of sugar or sweetener helps the taste. The lemonade is actually not too bad though I get tired of it. My favorite is when they have strawberry kiwi or mango lemonade. Pretty good and it doesn’t seem to be affected by the bad tasting water.
They charge $3.50 for a bottle of drinking water and $2.50 for a soft drink can on the ship. At the supermarket we bought 24 bottles of Danasi drinking water, 12 bottles of Coke and twelve bottles of 7 Up for a total of 19,800 Vietnamese Dong or $5.80 US. It would have cost us $72 for the same amount of water and soft drinks on the ship. But to keep all this in perspective, the average Vietnamese worker gets paid equivalent to $200 US per month. So to them what we bought today for $5.80 US would have been a big splurge to them.
Just to give you an idea:
- Barilla pasta is 54,100 dong. That is equal to $2.33 US
- A pack of Oreo cookies is 11,900 dong or $0.51
- Lipton tea is 27,700 dong or $1.19
- Danish butter cookies is 105,500 dong or $4.54
We didn’t take too many pictures while walking. We were too busy carrying all our bottles, dodging motor scooters and watching our footing on uneven sidewalks. We did take some pictures from the shuttle bus to share with you.
On our way back we talked to a fellow passenger who had served two tours of duty in Vietnam. He had come back to see how it had changed. We have met several former servicemen on the ship doing the same thing. On the other hand we met a woman traveling alone. She said her husband had served in Vietnam and wasn’t ready to come back. She had always wanted to see the country so she traveled there alone. It sounded like her husband had suffered some permanent injuries while here.
We saw Quonset huts remaining which had been part of a 1965 US helicopter base. This hospital was built in 1966 and became the largest combat casualty hospital in Vietnam with nearly 600 beds. Today it is known as DaNang Hospital for Women and Children.
I will close by saying if you should ever doubt that you live in the best country in the world, you only need to come to this part of the world to see how truly blessed we are to be Americans! God Bless America!