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Visually stunning Vietnam

Updated: Jun 14

Well that was a feat for the eyes and the stomach.  The Celebrity Millennium docked in Hue, Vietnam and we were onshore around 7:30a.

The day was an 8.5 hour ship excursion, with a 1:45 minute drive to and from Hoi An.  The ride included transit through a 6.7km or a 4.6 mile long tunnel.   We then passed thru Da Nang, the 3rd largest city in Vietnam with 1.7 million people.  Hanoi (9 million) and Ho Chi Min (7 million) are significantly larger.

Hoi An, where we spend most of our time, is an absolutely charming historical city with street vendors, restaurants and temples set alongside the banks of a muddy river.

We started our morning with Thi, a local tour guide who had a pre-established method of counting her guests.  The 38 of us in this particular excursion broke the mold and threw her into a bit of a tailspin as we drove away from the port.

Her method is to only count the husbands.  So she would track 19 males and they would be responsible for the females.

Well, there was me, solo gay traveler and a group of 5 female friends which threw her method out with the bath water.

As she walked by myself for the forth or fifth time counting us, she said while looking at me and my seat mates, today you are the husband. Just like that, I was married!

We joked and went along with it for the day to much amusing of our fellow shipmates. We promptly divorced at the end of the excursion.  It was an arranged marriage that wasn’t going to work. 🤷🏻‍♂️

The day itself was spend in Hoi An, a beautiful UNSECO World Heritage site.  I’ve lost track of how many UNSECO SITES I have visited this year, but I would guess it’s twenty or more, and all are well deserving of their accolade.  Hoi An was no exception.

We first wandered thru the market, looking at fresh fruits, vegetables, clothing and other wares set alongside the narrow streets busting at the seams with tourists on foot and locals on bikes.

It rained some during the morning and our group bounced back and forth from the excursion provided ponchos to our tshirts as the added moisture made for a humid and sticky day.

Hot and muggy doesn’t begin to describe it.  Not a complaint, just an observation. I was thankful for the cloud cover though, as the sun beating down on us would have added an extra layer of stench from my body that nobody would ever need to experience.  I shower 2-5x a day normally…I dislike being unclean and my Pisces water sign means I take long relaxing showers, frequently.

Back to the day though, after the market we ended up across the river at the Morning Glory Cooking School for our cooking class. It n a true cooking classroom setting we carefully prepared Veggie Spring Rolls, Chicken Satay, a breakfast pancake (also wrapped in rice paper) and finished our meal with fresh lemongrass ice cream that had the pungent lemon scent but a subtle flavor that was light and refreshing.

Other ingredients included:

Shrimp, Pork, Fish sauce, Sugar, Lemongrass, Serrano, Carrots, Garlic, Chili Paste, Brown sugar, Garlic, Shallots, Lemon leaf, Sesame oil, Salt, All Spice, Pepper, Turmeric, Lemon juice, Daicon, Galangal (like ginger), fresh mint and Shallot oil.  Nothing crazy or out of the ordinary but fresh and extremely tasty.

It was a very fun two hours and was capped by the opportunity to purchase a signed cookbook written by our instructor and restaurateur, Ms Vy.

Stuffed and recharged, as a group we walked back across the river, then to a temple and finally to a local history museum before having about an hour of time to wander and shop the market on our own.

It was a lovely day and the cooking class was a unique experience compared to most other cruise excursions I had been on. I would highly recommend it if ever in Hoi An!

I ran into multiple cruise ship friends while wandering the street and many got to see the camera for the first time.  I find great enjoyment and entertainment on the comments about the lens.  I don’t know what to say, other than, “yah, it does the trick.”

I think what was so striking about Vietnam is the color, especially given the contrast to the blacks, gray and brown neutral tones so prevalent in Japanese clothing.  Vietnam felt tropical and Caribbean like, which makes sense given its latitudinal similarities to the Caribbean. It’s just one of those things I’ve never really thought about.

In another strong contrast to Japan where I’ve commented on the lack of honking and sirens, Vietnam may hold the record for the MOST use of a horn in a single day. Drivers there, all of them, give a friendly honk honk of the horn when passing nearly EVERY scooter on the road, and scooters are likely the number one transportation method that I saw.  So think about a city of 1.7 million people and how many scooters that is on the road, and then think of a giant tour bus that honks at each one carefully to announce our presence on the road.  Honk honk.  Honk honk.  Honk honk almost nonstop for 2 hours each way.

Thankfully, you become numb to it and it becomes part of the fabric of the culture.

I felt alive and inspired in Hoi An.  I think it shows in what was captured thru the lens.

Back on the ship around 5p, dined at Blu, the restaurant dedicated to Aqua Class passengers and then the group happy hour commenced as usual at 7:45p at the martini bar.

The next two days are sea days before arriving in Singapore, our final destination and where I disembark.

Cole from Colorado

Inspired and Alive



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about me:

Hey!  I am Cole from Grand Junction, Colorado. In 2023 I stepped on all seven continents, in a single calendar year, solo!

The year continues to shape my life and my lust for travel.

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