March 26, 2011
We Are Cunard
Probably one of the most fascinating sections of the World Voyage is visiting ports in Asia. There’s such diversity in what you see from the tropical rainforests to beautiful bays and harbours to dramatic city skylines. This year Queen Elizabeth visited two ports in Vietnam; the first of which was Nha Trang, which is one of Vietnam’s most popular resorts. Queen Elizabeth anchored in the bay and this photo shows a wonderful contrast between our new Cunarder and a traditional Vietnamese fishing boat.
Nha Trang itself is quite a small town with a scattering of French-colonial beachfront hotels making up the heart of its tourist district. Wherever you go though, you are constantly reminded where you are, by the government posters:
Being a tourist town, the beachfront could be anywhere, but the prices are still wonderfully reasonable, and the food a good mixture of international but mostly local cuisine.
Although this is a country which is undergoing change at a remarkable rate, the blend of old and new are very evident once you go back a few streets to the centre of the town.
One thing that is consistent in every Vietnamese town and city is the huge quantity of motorbikes absolutely everywhere. The day after Nha Trang, Queen Elizabeth docked at Phu My, which is the main port for Ho Chi Minh City, formally Saigon; the largest city in Vietnam.
Whilst over half of our guests went to Ho Chi Minh City for the day, there was also a shuttle bus to the nearby town of Baria. After what could only be described as an interesting 45 minute bus ride on the main and very busy highway, between the port town of Vung Tau and Ho Chi Minh City, we were in what appeared to quite a reasonably modern city, certainly by Vietnamese standards.
Just walking around you can see some remarkable buildings, such as this cathedral in the heart of the town which was built in the 1930’s replacing an older church.
I’m not sure what was going on that day but all of a sudden there was a lot of noise and a small carnival seemed to pass along the road with an eclectic group on this particular float flanked of course by numerous motorbikes!
Again you are often reminded of the authority of this country, with the numerous government buildings, which are surrounded by security officials.
The country is very proud of its past, with immaculately kept gardens surrounding statues of past and present leaders.
The buildings in this country are absolutely fascinating, with such a range of modern structures which are certainly individual in their design. There are of course many older colonial buildings around, which reflect the French architecture from the 19th century, such as this private house which somehow has managed to survive in the middle of the town
But then there are those which have had some quite imaginative designers. Now these houses may not be to everyone’s taste, and I am guessing there’s not much consultation with neighbours, but it certainly creates an interesting street!
I know I was going to include some pictures from Singapore, but I realized I had too many photos for one Blog so I’ll post them next week along with some from Queen Elizabeth’s maiden calls to ports in Malaysia. I’ll also have pictures from more events that have taken place recently on Queen Elizabeth, as well as some news from Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria. Cheers for now, Alastair