A Nice Visit to Ho Chi Minh City, aka, Saigon

As we departed from our two-day stay in Laem Chabang, we sailed south in the calm waters of the Gulf of Thailand until we reached the open waters of the South China Sea. After another relaxing sea day we pulled into the industrial port of Phu My in the southern part of Vietnam. Our bus trip into Ho Chi Minh City, aka Saigon, took only ninety minutes thanks to the newly constructed highway (previous trips had been over two hours).


Our first stop was at the Reunification Hall, the former Presidential Palace of South Vietnam.

Our guide took us quickly through the Hall where we did see the former present’s helicopter on the roof as well as some of the important rooms, both above ground and in the below-ground bunker.

I’ve been to the Hall on two previous trips, and I was hoping that we would also have time to visit the tanks out front and read about the defector who dropped a bomb on the Palace in April of 1975. The outside grounds were well maintained with ornamental plants and shrubbery.

We re-boarded our bus inside the gates and as we left, we exited via the famous area where on April 30, 1975, the North Vietnamese stormed the Place by driving a tank through the gate, bringing an end to the conflict


I’ve always wanted to visit the Saigon Zoo & Botanical Gardens, but previous trips would stop at the History Museum at the edge of the gardens, but never inside them. Established in 1864 along the Saigon River, the zoo is also a popular place for locals.


This was a treat for me and the other guests as we walked around and saw animals, both large and small – rhinoceros, elephant, bears, birds, monkeys, tigers, etc.




There are many types of trees and flowers around the gardens, including an orchid house. The orchids were not very colorful, so we opted for an outside location for the photo.


A delightful buffet lunch was served at the Lion Brewery & Restaurant. I wasn’t expecting that we would eat at a German Brewhouse, but the food was decidedly Vietnamese, and it was very good. They did have German beer available, but it was a cold bottle of the local Saigon Green beer that was served to us.



We had some time for souvenir shopping after lunch, and several of us bought a selection of beautiful greeting cards that have pop-up cuts when the card is opened. Some of the street vendors were also selling baseball-style caps at a very cheap price of three hats for five U.S. Dollars. I saw a few people buying them, but I don’t need any more hats.


The Ho Chi Minh City Museum has many items telling the history of the city.

I thought that the items outside the building were more interesting.


Our final stop was at a temple where incense was burning and Buddhist monks were chanting in several of the rooms.


We saw this dog in the last room, and he looked very content.


If you’ve ever wanted to be a millionaire, just come to Vietnam where it’s very easy to hold a million in your hand. This display that I have is worth about forty-five U.S. Dollars, and it was just some of the local currency (Vietnam Dong) that I had — I was “a millionaire for a day”!


It was an enjoyable day in Ho Chi Minh City, and we returned in time for dinner and to watch as our ship pulled out of the port of Phu My in the evening for another sea day before our final two ports in Vietnam. We’ve been enjoying learning about the culture of the country and tasting the food – very good! While there was some discussion of the Vietnam Conflict during our tours, there was nothing negative; it was given just as background facts.

Happy Travels!
Stuart



Stuart Gustafson is America’s International Travel Expert® who speaks on cruise ships, writes novels, sends out an infrequent newsletter (almost every month!), is an avid TripAdvisor reviewer, and loves everything about travel. Visit his website at www.stuartgustafson.com. You can also connect with him and other travelers on his International Travel Expert page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/International-Travel-Expert-147321228683651/


All information and images copyright © 2017 by Stuart Gustafson Productions, LLC. America’s International Travel Expert is a U.S. Registered Trademark of Stuart Gustafson Productions, LLC. Ownership of images and content from linked sources remains with those sources or their attributions; no ownership by Stuart Gustafson Productions, LLC, is implied or claimed.




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Day 1 in Singapore


We managed to make it through the 17.5 hour flight from San Francisco to Singapore, losing Wednesday in the process. We did get some sleep on the way so we were able to get back out once we checked into our hotel (at we had reserved for the previous night so we could get in no matter when we arrived today). Here are a few more shots of the display screen from our 787.
Our hotel is in the Clarke Quay area just on the outskirts of Chinatown.
We weren’t here for the January 28 festivities of the Chinese New Year as they ushered in the Year of the Rooster, but some of the items, such as the giant rooster, are still on display. We walked around, winding our way into some of the back streets until we found a place that looked busy and good. Darlene had a bowl of noodles as her first meal here in Singapore, and I had a bowl of Sour and Spicy Soup — yes, it was!

We continued our walk through more of Chinatown, found a shop with postcards AND stamps, bought some, and then headed back to the hotel to give our feet some rest.

We’re rested up, and so it’s time to get back out and do some more walking. We’re going to meet a former co-worker of mine who’s here in Singapore on business, then go have some dinner and maybe even a cool beverage! It’s been a great first day here in Singapore; so much has already gone on and we landed not even 10 hours ago!


Happy Travels!
Stuart



Stuart Gustafson is America’s International Travel Expert® who speaks on cruise ships, writes novels, sends out an infrequent newsletter (almost every month!), is an avid TripAdvisor reviewer, and loves everything about travel. Visit his website at www.stuartgustafson.com. You can also connect with him and other travelers on his International Travel Expert page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/International-Travel-Expert-147321228683651/


All information and images copyright © 2017 by Stuart Gustafson Productions, LLC. America’s International Travel Expert is a U.S. Registered Trademark of Stuart Gustafson Productions, LLC. Ownership of images and content from linked sources remains with those sources or their attributions; no ownership by Stuart Gustafson Productions, LLC, is implied or claimed.




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Going Cruising in SE Asia

We just got back from two glorious weeks in Cabo San Lucas, BCS, Mexico. The weather was beautiful(remember that we left sub-freezing temperatures and lots of snow on the ground in Idaho); the food was delicious (as always!); we had a great time with my brother, his wife, and a friend (including our annual lobster dinner at Maro’s), and then we returned to Boise where most of the snow had melted freeing up the streets and the lawns. Relaxation time, right? Well, not exactly. We have to get our taxes done, do some shopping, and then lots of packing before we head over to SE Asia for two months.

Speaking of Cabo, I’m leading a third annual Los Cabos Highlights Tour next year — June 17-23, 2018 — that I guarantee you WILL enjoy. If you’re not interested, tell your friends because I’ve been going there every year since 2003; I know the people; I know the best places to go — and we’re going there! CLICK HERE to learn about the tour and see how to register.

Get your EARLY Booking Discount when you register by April 1, 2017!



Did I say, “Cruising for two months?”


Yes, We’ll be on four cruises (total of sixty days) on Celebrity MILLENNIUM that I’ll be speaking on as we visit many, many ports in Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and mainland China. I’ve been to most of the places before, but these will all be new experiences for my wife. We’ll be going on many ship excursions, but we also have a couple private tours set up for us — the main one is a 3-day tour in Beijing where six of us will be treated to many of the main highlights of this 6,000-year old capital city.
CLICK HERE if you’d like to see the cruise schedule.

I’ve been on the MILLENNIUM several times previously, and the crew and staff are marvelous. The ship’s Master of the Vessel is really fun, and he attends many of the talks and evening shows — he truly cares about everyone who’s on the ship. And Steve, the Cruise Director, and Manuel, the Activity Manager, are awesome folks to work with; they make it so easy for me and all the other speakers and entertainers to put forth our best so the guests have a magnificent time. After all, isn’t that what cruising is all about? Of course it is!!!

I hope you follow along on our two-month set of cruises in SE Asia. I know we’ll enjoy the journey; I hope you do, also.


Happy Travels!
Stuart



Stuart Gustafson is America’s International Travel Expert® who speaks on cruise ships, writes novels, sends out an infrequent newsletter (almost every month!), is an avid TripAdvisor reviewer, and loves everything about travel. Visit his website at www.stuartgustafson.com. You can also connect with him and other travelers on his International Travel Expert page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/International-Travel-Expert-147321228683651/


All information and images copyright © 2017 by Stuart Gustafson Productions, LLC. America’s International Travel Expert is a U.S. Registered Trademark of Stuart Gustafson Productions, LLC. Ownership of images and content from linked sources remains with those sources or their attributions; no ownership by Stuart Gustafson Productions, LLC, is implied or claimed.




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A Crazy Travel Schedule

I head out on Friday for my first cruise of 2016 — that is shocking to some people who know me and how I love to travel. But this summer was dedicated to working in the yards as we are doing a lot of re-landscaping. I built new redwood planter boxes for the back yard, adding artistic flair to them along the way, and the front yards are being done with flower “islands” and buffalo grass (think wild prairies). With other cruises (and other travels) already lined up for 2017, I thought I would write out my schedule as it is for now. If you’re going to be in any of these places at the same time, let’s get together!


    2016:

  • 2 Sep Seattle-Tacoma Airport; En route to Vancouver
  • 2 Sep Vancouver, B.C., Canada; Boarding the Celebrity MILLENNIUM for a cruise across the Pacific
  • 7 Sep Dutch Harbor, Alaska; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 14 Sep Otaru, Japan; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 15 Sep Hakodate, Japan; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 17 Sep Tokyo, Japan; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 18 Sep Tokyo (Yokohama), Japan; depart cruise and fly home
  • 5 Oct to 20 Oct San Jose del Cabo, BCS, MEXICO; 2 weeks along Playa Azul in Los Cabos. Relaxing at Bel Air Vacation Club — available for interviews, articles, etc.
  • 8 Nov Las Vegas, NV; on way to San Diego
  • 9 Nov to 16 Nov Oceanside, California; Staying at WorldMark Oceanside while attending a beautiful wedding
  • 23 Dec to 30 Dec McCall, Idaho; Christmas time at WorldMark McCall
    2017:

  • 29 Jan to 12 Feb Cabo San Lucas, BCS, Mexico; We’ll be staying at Playa Grande Resort or Grand Solmar Resort (or both)
  • 23 Feb to 25 Feb Singapore; Visiting prior to joining cruise ship
  • 25 Feb to 26 Feb Singapore; Two days in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 1 Mar to 2 Mar Bangkok, Thailand; Two days in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 4 Mar Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 6 Mar Danang, Vietnam; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 7 Mar Halong Bay, Vietnam; Two days in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 7 Mar to 8 Mar Hanoi, Vietnam; Two days in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 10 Mar to 11 Mar Hong Kong, China; Two days in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 11 Mar Hong Kong, China; Turnaround day for cruises on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 13 Mar 13 Mar Keelung, Taiwan; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 15 Mar Nagasaki, Japan; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 16 Mar Busan, South Korea; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 17 Mar Jeju Island, South Korea; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 18 Mar Incheon, South Korea; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 20 Mar to 22 Mar Beijing, China; Three days in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 20 Mar to 22 Tianjin, China; Three days in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 25 Mar Shanghai, China; Turnaround day for cruises on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 28 Mar to 30 Mar Tianjin, China; Three days in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 28 Mar to 30 Mar Beijing, China; Three days in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 1 Apr Incheon, South Korea; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 2 Apr Jeju Island, South Korea; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 3 Apr Nagasaki, Japan; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 5 Apr Keelung, Taiwan; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 7 Apr to 8 Apr Hong Kong, China; Two days in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 8 Apr to 9 Apr Hong Kong, China; Two days in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 11 Apr to 12 Apr Taipei, Taiwan; Two days in port (Keelung) while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 13 Apr Okinawa, Japan; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 15 Apr Shanghai, China; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 17 Apr Nagasaki, Japan; Full day in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 19 Apr to 20 Apr Kobe, Japan; Two days in port while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 21 Apr Mt. Fuji, Japan; Full day in port (Shimizu) while cruising on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 22 Apr Tokyo, Japan; End of cruise (Yokohama) on Celebrity MILLENNIUM
  • 7 Jul to 8 Jul Providence, RI; preparing for “Great American Waterways” cruise on Blount Small Ship Adventures
  • 10 Jul Kingston, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 11 Jul Troy, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 12 Jul Amsterdam, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 13 Jul Sylvan Beach, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 14 Jul Oswego, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 15 Jul Rochester, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 16 Jul Buffalo, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 18 Jul Cleveland, OH; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 19 Jul Wyandotte, MI; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 21 Jul Mackinac Island, MI; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 22 Jul Manitowoc, WI; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 23 Jul Chicago, IL; Ending of “Great American Waterways” cruise on Blount
  • 23 Jul to 25 Jul Chicago, IL; between Blount cruises; taking in some art and other scenery
  • 26 Jul Manitowoc, WI; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 27 Jul Mackinac Island, MI; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 29 Jul Wyandotte, MI; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 30 Jul Cleveland, OH; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 31 Jul Erie, PA; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 1 Aug Buffalo, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 2 Aug Rochester, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 3 Aug Oswego, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 4 Aug Sylvan Beach, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 5 Aug Amsterdam, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 6 Aug Troy, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 7 Aug Kingston, NY; Day in port while cruising on Blount GRANDE CARIBE
  • 9 Aug Warren, RI; end of Blount cruise
  • 25 Aug to 28 Aug Venice, Italy; Before heading out on cruise on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 30 Aug Katakolon, Greece; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 31 Aug Santorini, Greece; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION on what would have been Mom’s 100th birthday!
  • 1 Sep to 2 Sep Athens, Greece; Two days in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 3 Sep Mykonos, Greece; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 5 Sep Corfu, Greece; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 7 Sep Venice, Italy; Turnaround day for cruises on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 8 Sep Ravenna, Italy; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 9 Sep to 10 Sep Dubrovnik, Croatia; Two days in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 11 Sep Kotor, Montenegro; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 13 Sep Catania, Sicily, Italy; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 15 Sep Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 16 Sep Ibiza, Spain; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 17 Sep Valencia, Spain; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 18 Sep Barcelona, Spain; Turnaround day for cruises on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 19 Sep Sete, France; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 20 Sep Toulon, France; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 21 Sep Villefranche, France; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION; perhaps a day trip to Monte Carlo!
  • 22 Sep Civitavecchia, Italy; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 23 Sep Naples, Italy; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 25 Sep to 26 Sep Valletta, Malta; Two days in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION; hoping to visit friend while there
  • 28 Sep Venice, Italy; Turnaround day for cruises on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 29 Sep Ravenna, Italy; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 30 Sep to 1 Oct Dubrovnik, Croatia; Two days in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 2 Oct Kotor, Montenegro; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 4 Oct Catania, Sicily, Italy; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 6 Oct Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 7 Oct Ibiza, Spain; Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 8 Oct Valencia, Spain;Day in port while cruising on Celebrity CONSTELLATION
  • 9 Oct to 13 Oct Barcelona, Spain; End of cruises; celebrate anniversary 43; explore the city, more Gaudi art to see; stroll La Rambla one more time!

Stuart Gustafson is America’s International Travel Expert® who speaks on cruise ships, writes novels, sends out a monthly newsletter (almost every month!), and loves everything about travel. Visit his website at www.stuartgustafson.com. You can also connect with him and other travelers on his International Travel Expert page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/International-Travel-Expert-147321228683651/


All information and images copyright © 2016 by Stuart Gustafson Productions, LLC. America’s International Travel Expert is a U.S. Registered Trademark of Stuart Gustafson Productions, LLC.




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