Saturday, November 7, 2015

Up the Coast to Phan Rang for the Groom's family marriage of our friends Thinh and Vinh.

Late rainy dinner in Phan Rang
We hailed a taxi on very busy Duong Nguyen Huu Tho, named after a very strong activist in the National Liberation Front during the war of liberation, last Sunday, 3-11-2015 and began our trip by train up the coast of the East Sea to Phan Rang-Thap Cham to attend the second part of the wedding of our Vietnamese friends, Ms Vinh and Mr Thinh.  This Procession and Ceremony is organized and celebrated under the direction of the groom's parents just as the previous Ceremony was celebrated and organized by the bride's parents.  We were accompanied on the train, tour-guided, by Mr Thinh's grandmother who is 80 years old and a constant national and international traveler by plane, train and probably boat although we didn't think to ask.
Water Buffalo walk by our hotel
as we were waiting in the lobby
 Our train reached Phan Rang a couple hours after dark and we were moved off the train and into the station by our tour guide where we met by the groom's family lead by his mother and father.  After shared greetings we were off to our hotel (just a bock from the gorgeous beach) and then on to a BIG dinner at an mostly outdoor restaurant with a roof.  By this time it was raining like heck and the roof was a necessity although probably if there had not been a rain storm we would have eaten under the starry sky.  The food was delicious and both families were present in big numbers.  While we ate the delicious many course dinner: fresh seafood, fresh chicken (free range for everything), fresh beef, and fresh pork with tasty Vietnamese sauces and fish sauce and large amounts of very fresh vegetables along with rice and a final seafood hotpot and a lot of toasts, one, two, three bottoms up, (mo, hi, bah, yo!) with tasty Tiger Beer.

We caught a few hours sleep after the big dinner and then at 8:30am we met the families downstairs after a quick breakfast and boarded one LARGE Ford Van to zoom out to the Thap Cham beach area and the beautiful East Sea.  We went for a cruise around some of the bay area but our snorkeling was scuttled when the parents felt the water was too deep and they didn't want the young children, under 7 years old, going in the ocean.  We drove through beautiful mountains by the ocean looking for an acceptable beach but gave up after a while and skipped the swimming and instead went back to the

Fishing Boats in the harbor and the hills in the background.  A surprising feature
of the area was the large amount of cactus growing -- Hollis felt deja vu all over
again to growing up in Arizona.
hotel, rested for a while and then drove to a Buddhist Pagoda where family members offered prayers for the marriage couple. Next we went on to a large, very old (around 1600 years old) Cham Temple that was situated on a hill with an incredible view of the province and the city.  The grounds around these national treasurers of old times are being restored as budget and time permit.

Here we see the brides family and friends gathered at the bottom of the hill before we trekked up to the temple itself. At this time the grooms family were at the family home decorating and preparing for the ceremony which would be held the next day.  The walk up the hill was not arduous, but it was steep and required a lot of energy but when we reached the top the temple was well worth the climb and then there was also the view of the city below.

The metropolitan area has about 400 thousand folks so while much smaller than HCMC or Ha Noi it is not small.  Long Beach CA is slightly larger in pop and area for comparison.  Oh, by the time we got to the top of the hill it was raining and continued to rain while we toured.  The thick clouds did not help with the photography.
Phan Rang from a top the hill with the Cham Temple looking East, Southeast

and looking West Northwest if my sense of direction is right.
This province is famous for salt fields and production, grapes and apples, fishing, garlic, wool (so lots of sheep grazing everywhere), goats, cows.  We also saw a HUGE power plant along the coastline. Along with many government and people's organization buildings (this town is the capital of the province) we saw lots of parks - some especially for children - and an inspiring American War Memorial.

  After getting down off the hill in the rain we went back to the hotel to get a few minutes of rest and then off for a dinner at a locally famous restaurant serving chicken and rice, pickled and fresh vegetables and lots of toasts with ice cooled beer. Mo, hi, bah, Yo! again.  The next bog pages will be with pictures of the Wedding Ceremony and the Party!

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