Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Since I've returned home from my cruise, I realize that I neglected to include one of my posts I wrote offline during my trip.  So, out of order, but here it is:

Da Nang and Hoi An

The city of Da Nang has been around since at least the 1600's, but most people today recognize its name from the Vietnam War, as it is where the U.S. troops first landed in 1965.  Nearby, China Beach became the place where troops enjoyed sand and surf as much needed recreation.  The city fell to the North Vietnamese in 1975.  Today, Da Nang is the fourth largest city in Vietnam, with approximately 1,000,000 people in residence.

Hoi An is a small historic town about 22 miles from Da Nang, and is recognized as such by UNESCO.  It's narrow and winding streets are an historian's delight, filled with beautifully preserved architecture evident in its temples, houses and meeting or assembly halls, as well as pagodas, water wells, bridges markets and a wharf.  The village is a wonderful example of symbolic oriental cities in the Middle Ages.

We were picked up by our tour guide and small bus and drove through Da Nang on our way to Hoi An.  Along the way, we passed by the old American base that was used extensively during the war.  It is now used as a naval base by the Vietnamese military, but you can still see a number of the old American barracks along the outskirts of the base.

We also passed by ( and later visited the shop) the Marble Mountains. They are each named for elements - water, metal, wood, fire and earth. The earth is the highest peak.
They make some fantastic pieces taken from the marble of the mountainous area.  

We spent a leisurely day wandering the narrow streets of Hoi An, and hopped onto a small river boat for a 20 minute trip down the river until we reached a small village devoted to ceramic making. An elderly woman and her granddaughter demonstrated the art of the wheel, with the younger one spinning the wheel around with her foot, and the elder forming the clay in the center of the wheel into a small bowl.  She then started a second piece, which was a lid that fit perfectly on the bowl she had just finished.  

We had a nice lunch at a quiet restaurant down a small street and then spent another half hour shopping and walking through the central market before hopping on our bus and heading back to the ship.

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