After spending a short time at the Cham Museum and looking at mostly Hindu sculptures from the 10th century, we took the bus to an embroidery factory -- the XQ Workshop. Those of you who like to do needlework would have been impressed, as we were. It looked a little like a sweat shop, with dozens of women sitting at tables doing intricate embroidery work for 8 hours a day. Their backs and eyes must be very tired at the end of the day. The most interesting (and expensive) pieces were those done with identical stitches on both sides. This cloth is very thin (kind of like chiffon) and is used for 2-sided room dividers and artwork. The colors and elaborate work on all the pieces were impressive, and the prices were very reasonable. Several people on the bus bought pieces ranging from $24 to $350. We looked but didn't buy.
Leaving the factory, we walked a few blocks to the bus, passing through the city market. Wow! What smells and sights. The aroma of fish about knocked us down, and tables were piled with every type of fish (and squid) imaginable. Walking very quickly through the fish, mom and I paused in the fruit and vegetable area to admire the fresh items. Everyone seemed very friendly and smiling. We resisted the young girls who were selling purses, jewelry, etc. as we made our way onto the bus.
The next stop was the marble village, located near Marble Mountain. Marble Mountain is actually a series of five large marble and limestone formations, each named after one of the elements--metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. These dot the landscape near Da Nang. We watched two men working on large marble pieces--a lion and a Buddha. Most of these sculptures are large and are found in hotels, parks, etc. Six on our bus stayed behind to purchase some pieces and have them shipped back home while the rest of us rode on to walk up into a cave inside the Marble Mountains. The guide said it was 156 steps to the top, so only five of us chose to go inside while the bus took the rest to a resort at nearby China Beach. However, as we walked into the cave, the guide said we didn't have time to go to the top, so we just went into a large cavern that was used as an emergency hospital during the American War (Vietnam War to us). It was interesting, but we would have liked to walk up the steep, slick steps to the pagoda on top the hill, but didn't have time. One of the disadvantages of group tours. (The advantage is that you get to see much more in a shorter amount of time.)
Anyway, the bus picked up us five stragglers and guide and we met up with the group (including the marble buyers) at the Sandy Beach resort on China Beach. The beach was gorgeous, with the light golden sand we saw near the ship. No one was on the beach, but we could only imagine how much the soldiers and sailors enjoyed their R&R on the beach during the Vietnam War. It seems so long ago. Most of us tried the local beer, which was good and cold, before re-boarding the bus for the hour's ride back to the ship.
I dozed a little on the bus (guess it was the beer) and we were back soon. Mom and I did a little shopping at the stalls set up along the pier. I bought myself a "coolie" hat because it looked so cute ($5) and mom and I both bought silk robes ($10).
We had an enjoyable dinner with our entire table present. The group enjoyed delicious food and interesting conversation, just what one would expect from a cruise.
Our next day was at sea - very calm, sunny, and hot. We had Asian buffet for lunch on the deck. It was yummy - sushi, noodles, roasted pig, grilled meats & chicken, and all sorts of veggies and salads. We got our plates and ate inside (as did almost everyone else) since it was so hot. After lunch, we went to Glenmore Trenear-Harvey's presentation on "Piracy in the 21st Century". Since he was our table mate, we all felt somewhat compelled to attend, and we were glad we did. He was interesting and knowledgeable, focusing on the history of piracy worldwide. After the presentation, I worked on my photos, mom read her book and then we both took naps late in the afternoon, waking up just before Teddy the butler brought the snacks (guacamole, salsa, chips, and nuts).
Had a nice informal dinner that night with our table mates. After the big lunch, neither of us was too hungry. Mom ate a light soup and crab cakes, and I had a raw tuna appetizer, cold blood orange and yogurt soup, and crab cakes. Since I was trying to diet occasionally, I had a bowl of fresh blueberries for dessert.
After dinner, we went to the casino for about 30 minutes before the show. I blew $5 on the penny slots--big spender. The troupe put on another excellent show--the second this cruise. It featured rock and roll music from "my" generation of the sixties. The lead female singer changed clothes 11 times (including shoes), and mom counted 34 different songs. (I think some of the dancers changed clothes more often than that). This group of eight dancers and the two singers continue to impress.
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