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Azamara Quest Blog #4 from Ho Chi Minh City

Ben Hall

What a way to spend New Year's Eve .. fireworks over the Saigon River in Ho Chi Minh City right in front of where the Azamara Quest was docked. We had the best spot in the city to ring in 2011 and the deck party was the perfect way to celebrate. An estimated half a million people crammed into the city and the Saigon River waterfront for an amazing night and across the river one of the local bars celebrated with a mad night of loud Vietnamese karaoke and the unique sound drifted across the river loud and clear to us on deck. They love their New Year's celebration in this part of the world.

Earlier in the day we sailed up the Saigon River at sunrise in one of the highlights of a cruise in this part of the world. Life gets going really early here and at 6am fishing families are up and at work already while barges carrying concrete, gravel and sand are already heading up or down from Ho Chi Minh City. Drivers and deck hands are brushing their teeth, making tea on deck and they usually just stop and stare when our luxury cruise ship glides by. All these people live on board their boats and they are totally self sufficient with kitchens on most and mini-apartments on some of the bigger vessels. As the day goes on, more and more boats are on the water and the sheer volume of traffic slows our arrival into Ho Chi Minh City by a full hour.

Even though it was New Year's Eve we took a ship's tour to the Mekong Delta for a look at the lives of the people who live on the waterways of one of the most famous Vietnamese regions. It was a two hour road trip up to the town of My Pho which is at the heart of Mekong Delta system and we boarded a tourist boat for a trundle around the area. Working boats and tourist vessels like ours putter around the area and we get dropped off at one of the islands where the traditional way of life still holds true. It made for a long day but somehow we made it through to celebrate the New Year in a very unique way.

We're arriving in Danang tomorrow … and we'll be heading off to the UNESCO World Heritage village of Hoi An. More blogs to follow.

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