I let my expectations get out of hand again…. I was really looking forward to a beautiful day relaxing in the sun as we approached Da Nang, Vietnam. I walked out this morning to see overcast skies and rain, bummer! The improved a bit as the day went on. Anyway, it was relaxing. I just watched the ships and oil rigs go by as we sailed along the South China Sea…. Tomorrow, I will be taking an all day tour to Hue. Here is the description:
Hue has long been known as the Imperial City of the Nguyen Emperors, rising to glory during their reign of 1802 to 1945. Crossing the Hai Van (Cloudy) Pass from Da Nang, you will pass through what is arguably Vietnam's most spectacular scenery to arrive in Hue, 12 kilometers from the coastline and close to the Laotian border. A photo stop will be made during the passage over Vietnam's highest pass (1219 meters) to enable you photograph the spectacular view. Your first stop will be at the Imperial Citadel, built on a similar plan to that of the Forbidden City in Beijing. Passing through the impressive Mon gate, you will continue over a flourishing lotus pond to reach the main pavilion—the Palace of Supreme Harmony. It was here that important ceremonies took place and recent reconstruction has seen this building restored to its former splendor with regal red and gold columns and ornate furnishings. Much of the ground beyond the Palace suffered badly during the taking of the Imperial Citadel in the Tet Offensive of 1968, and beyond the damaged walls entrepreneurial farmers have started their own plots in the fertile land. You will also see the immense Dynastic Urns, each one depicting a different region of Vietnam and the Pavilion of Benevolence, which dedicates a throne to each of the revered Nguyen Emperors. Enjoy a buffet Imperial Feast lunch at the Century Riverside Hotel. Your Emperor and Empress will reign over a meal featuring Asian specialties including those of Hue, where Vietnamese cuisine is more extensive than anywhere else in the country. After lunch, drive through pine forests and orchards to visit one of the numerous imperial tombs which dot the surrounding countryside. Built by the Nguyen Dynasty Emperors, each tomb was meant as a place of recreation before being utilized as a final resting place. Tu Duc Tomb resembles a miniature royal palace with an attractive pavilion overlooking a tranquil lake, ornate buildings, fragrant gardens and hunting grounds.
One other item….. This voyage is the Holland America 2008 Grand Asia & Australia Voyage. That is what I wanted, 65 days exploring Asia & Australia. It is the long voyages with interesting itineraries that draws me to Holland America. My last Grand World Voyage wasn’t all that it could have been or should have been in terms of a Grand World Voyage because of cutting corners and cost reductions they made over the previous year’s World Voyage. Unfortunately the product suffered along the way. Holland America heard a lot of displeasure from their Mariners over this shortfall. Now I find myself on another Grand Voyage that was sold as a 65 day grand Voyage with 2 segments, Seattle to Singapore and Singapore to San Diego. Lately we have seen large numbers of people coming and going at places like Kobe & Hong Kong giving this voyage more of the feel of a “Hop on, hop off” bus rather than a Grand Voyage. Something in the ambience has certainly been lost along the way. The upcoming World Voyage may be my last with Holland America. I feel as though they have lost their way…….