March 8, 2002

    Nine days had passed since we began cruise and living in English. Both Shig and Sue were more accustomed to communicate in English. According to Shig's experience, two or three days in English would be the first threshold and seven or eight days the second to be more accustomed to English. We could tell jokes from time to time and had no troubles in communication.

    Then, we met with a strange thing. Many people doubt that we were genuine Japanese and asked if we were Chinese or American Japanese, or whether we lived in Hong Kong. It seems that poor English of Japanese people are so famous that many people think that someone who can speak English can not be Japanese.

    So Shig explained: Japan is a rare country where proficiency in English conversation doesn't make money, at least so far. In most countries, English-speaking people get far more money or promoted. Not in Japan. That is why Japanese people can not be eager to learn to speak English. It is the same phenomenon that American people are not good at foreign languages.

    Sue is gradually getting popularity among passengers and that benefits Shig, not necessarily without jealousy by Shig. We got an invitation by someone to dine together.

    The ship cruised all the day through the channel of Hainan Island. Meanwhile we listened to three lectures; Two on Vietnam sightseeing and one on interntaional relationships in Asia. I raised my hand for a question, but I was not pointed within the alotted time. No problem with me. I don't ask questions only for my curiosity. I always ask questions or make comments for the audience.

    It was a formal evening. Sue wore a western dress for the first time, the black skirt and brown silk jacket. We were seated with Lory & Roanne again, and an IBM retiree Ronald & Violet Cox. Both Sue and Shig took lobsters. The show after dinner was the ball dance demonstration by Jason & Kristy Rivers, and the ventriloquism by Mark Merchant, which was hard to understand.





 今日は一日航行が続き、海南島の北の海峡を通過した。その間3つの講義を聞いた。Vietnam の観光紹介が2つとアジア国際関係が1つだった。

 Formalな服装の日にスミヱは初めて洋服を着た。スカートが緩いことが分かり、スミヱが準備する間に急遽重悳がホックの位置を修正するお裁縫をした。森英恵の店で合わせたのになぜそんなヘマが起こったのかと重悳が問うと、あの時は寒い日だったから着ぶくれていたのだと。レストランでは、再びLory & Roanne Coplinと一緒になり、新しくRonald (Ron) & Violet (Vi) Coxと一緒になった。私と同い年くらいでIBMで社外教育をやってきた人だった。重悳もスミヱもLobsterを食べた。食後のショーは、Jason & Kristy Rivers兄弟の社交ダンスのデモと、Mark Merchantの腹話術だった。後者は掛け合い漫才をやるのだが、これが中々理解できない。そのうちうつらうつら眠ってしまった。

March 9, 2002

    By day break, the ship had been already anchored in the Halong Bay besides the province capital city of Hon Gai. The eroded lime rock islands, as in Keishu in China, were beautifully standing in the sea. Later we learnt that this area was designated as one of the world heritages.

    After 8am, we took a tender (はしけ) to the beach and began a 3.5 hour drive to Hanoi. Our tour bus guide was Anh, a former English teacher in his 40's. He must have studied English by himself. He talked continuously without any difficulty to find words, but his pronunciation was hard to understand. In the middle of our trip, we stopped at a drive-in for toilet. Of course there was sales push and Shig bought two silk-embroidered landscape pictures. Because of the extremely favorable US$ vs Vietnamese Dong conversion rate, every Vietnamese product was found extremely cheap. Next day, on our way back, Sue bought some jade ornaments very cheap.

    We took buffet lunch first at Hilton Hanoi Opera House, next to Opera House, and went to the military museum. Wreckage of American warplanes was proudly displayed and pride of Vietnam was emphasized. Then we were taken to the Temple of Literature, where the first university was erected in 1070AD. Then we walked through a food market street before entering into the water puppet show, which was marvellous. The stage was opaque water and puppets on top of sticks were moved by operators in the water behind bamboo curtains.

    During the dinner of Vietnamese cuisine at the hotel, we were treated by music by a family of musicians of traditional instruments, and dances by pretty girls. We were very much impressed by the music and bought a CD. We dined with Sol & Gilda Rappaport from Florida, Jansen Taylor from Florida, Ms. Joan Collins also from Florida and another lady. It was indeed a wonderful evening. We stayed in the hotel.

 夜が明けたら船はもう県都Hon Gaiに隣接するHalong Bayに錨を下ろしていた。中国桂州のような浸食石灰岩の島々が海の中に林立する美しい風景がそこにあり、後でこれら200の島々が世界遺産に登録されていることを知った。

 岸壁が無いので、8時過ぎに船が持ち歩いている艀(はしけ、Tenderという呼び方を覚えた)で岸につき、Hanoiに向けて田園地帯を180km、3時間半のドライブに入った。真っ平らな地形に見渡す限り日本流の田んぼが続く。ベトナムは最近タイを抜いて米国に次いで世界2位の米の輸出国になったそうだ。我々のバスガイドは元英語教師の40歳代で、独学で英語を勉強したらしく言葉を捜す苦労は無く止めどもなく話が続くのだが、発音は極めて理解に苦しむものだった。旅の中間でドライブインにトイレ休憩し、勿論土産物の勧誘があったが、絵が好きな重悳は絹刺繍でできた絵を2枚も買ってしまった。非常に有利なUS$ vs VND(ベトナムのドン)為替相場のお陰でベトナム製品は全て極端に安い。次の日スミヱは翡翠の装飾品を買った。

 HanoiではまずHilton Hanoi Opera Houseというオペラハウス隣接のホテルでバイキング昼食をとり、軍事博物館に行った。墜落米軍機の残骸が誇らしげに展示されていて、ベトナムの誇が強調されていた。次にTemple of Literatureに行った。ここに1070ADに初めての大学が創設されたとか。今も学問の寺として信仰を集めている。食料品マーケット通りを歩き、Water Puppet Show劇場に入った。舞台が濁った水の池になっていて、簾の奥から半身水に浸かった人達が棒の先に付けた人形を操作する。素晴らしい技術だった。重悳のカメラが何時の間にか無くなっていて大変心配したが、結局席の下に落ちていたのをスミヱが見つけて一件落着。

 ホテルでのベトナム料理の夕食では、伝統楽器を操る音楽家一家の演奏と、美人のダンスがあった。音楽には大変感動してCDを購入した。重悳はスミヱの目を気にしつつベトナム美人の写真を沢山撮った。夕食を共にしたのは、Floridaからの Sol & Gilda, Jansen, Joan ともう一人の女性だった。素晴らしい夜だった。この日はホテルに外泊した。

March 10, 2002

    Shig got up early as usual and went out for a morning walk as soon as the day broke. Shig went to the Lake of Turtle in the midst of the city. To Shig's surprise, on this Sunday morning only after dawn, the lake park was crowded with many people around, jogging, walking, doing Chinese stretch, or otherwise exercising. Shig found Vietnamese a diligent people.

    We were taken to Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum. Already there was a long line of Vietnam people. Soldiers were watching and checking visitors and forced a good behavior in the mausoleum. Ho Chi Minh was said to have left his will before his death in 1969 that his body should be cremated and remains should be spread over three hills in north, middle and south Vietnam. But Vietnamese people didn't observe his will and kept him in a mausoleum displayed to the public. Near the mausoleum, we saw the official mansion of the President, which Ho Chi Minh never used, and his brick house behind the mansion in which he lived from 1954 to 58, and the other house of him which he used since 1958.

    We began the 3.5 hour return trip with one stop at the middle point in the drive-in in Sao Do Town. We arrived at Halong Bay around 12:40, and took a junk to cruise around the beautiful lime islands before returning to the cruise ship. While we were taking lunch, our cruise ship lifted the anchor at 2pm and sailed through the channel between more lime islands, which looked fantastically beautiful.

It was a Informal day. We dined with handsome Herb & Leah Karp, a retired mechanical engineer with experiences of a joint venture with Alps in Niigata Bill & Phyl Lyders from Minnesota, and Lorna Amsden from Canada. While Shig took pork, Sue ate pasta dinner.

 重悳はいつものように早起きし、夜明けを待って朝の散歩に出た。ホテルで聞いて市の中心に位置するLake of Turtleまで10分ほどで行ってみた。驚いたことにこの日曜の夜明け直後の早朝に湖の公園は大勢の人々で込み合っていて、あるいはジョギング、あるいは散歩、太極拳、自己流の体操など皆が体を鍛えていた。ベトナム人は勤勉な人達なんだと思った。インド人とはまるきりその点が違うし、町も清潔だ。


 再び3.5時間のドライブで、また中間点の Sao Do町のドライブインで休憩し、買い物し、Halong Bayに12:40に帰着した。今度は艀ではなくジャンクに乗って湾内の美しい石灰岩の島々を周遊してから船に戻った。昼食をとっているうちに船は2pmに錨を上げ、もっと多くの石灰岩の島々の間の海峡を進んだ。さすが世界遺産の幻想的な景観だった。

 Informalの日だった。一緒に夕食をとったのは、78歳のHerb & Leah Karp、 Minnesotaから来た新潟にAlpsとのJVの経験をもつ引退機械技術者のBill & Phyl Lyders、Torontoの近くから来た65歳のLorna Amsdenだった。重悳はPorkを、スミヱはPastaをとった。

'02/ 3/10 ライチの花咲く国    ベトナム人の勤勉に感心し、繁栄を確信した。

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