Yikes. I really do take a while to update this don’t I?
I fly out of Saigon in the early morning to Da Nang. The flight does not have any drama on it, and takes maybe about 45 minutes. I once again have to explain to my new guide that Sandy is trying to make her way to Da Nang, and should arrive at some point during the day. We decide that we’ll call her in a bit since it was only about 8am. We drive directly from the airport to what has become my favorite Vietnamese town, Hoi An. This is a very pretty cultural city on a river full of interesting shops and pictures. As it was early morning on Sunday, the walk around town was particularly peaceful and picturesque. I got some great shots of people getting ready for the day ahead. The street vendors not yet ready to start hawking their wares to tourists (namely, me.) As we walked through the town, I was feeling a bit bad, since I knew Sandy would really enjoy this town. Tran, my excellent guide for this portion of the trip, suggested that we could come back here the next day with Sandy, as our scheduled tour the next day was only for half a day. I called Sandy, and through a very poor cell phone connection I learned that she was not taking a plane, and something about driving directly through to Danang, then the connection was lost, and I could not reach her. My guide and I continued on into Da Nang to a small museum containing artifacts of their ancient people. These were mostly Buddhist in type, and reminded me a lot of Angkor Wat and other regional artifacts I’ve seen over the years. After a nice lunch on the river’s edge, I was brought to my hotel right on China Beach. I was struck at how beautiful the ocean was here, and tried to imagine what the beach looked like during the war as a US Marine base. Now the beach is being groomed for large hotels and resorts. In a way, this is sad, as the natural beauty of the landscape will be marred by buildings, but given the history, it may be the best that can be done to this scarred country.
Finally at nine o’clock that night Sandy arrived at the hotel. I finally learned that she had endured a 24 hour road trip to join me in Vietnam. Each leg progressively becoming more and more of a challenge, from Bangkok to Laos, into Vietnam and down to Da Nang. I am quite impressed and proud that Sandy did this insane odyssey to join me for the trip, when it was well in her right to cancel and stay at home. We ate a late dinner and prepared for the next day.
The next morning I introduce Trang to Sandy and she tells of her story (I’m sure she’s repeated it to many people who become more and more amazed), and we drive off to the My Son temple complex. This is a very pretty, complex about two hours outside of Da Nang. It is a hot spot for tourists, and it was a bit of a challenge to get clear crowd-less photos, but certainly worth the trip. As promised, Trang took us back to Hoi An, and did a slight variation of the tour I took to keep things fresh for me. Sandy and I took advantage of some of the stores, and picked up some great handicraft bargains. Satisfied, we returned to the hotel, ready for our drive to Hue the next morning.