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Paul Redleaf from USA

Hi Tan: Happy to fill you in on the details. Everything in the Mekong was superb except for the unavoidable 3 hour wait for the ferry in the Tet crowd. Our guide, Tam, was excellent even if his English was still a work in progress. He made himself completely available, offering to escort us to markets or into town apart from the scheduled sightseeing, and was punctual in meeting us (as were all the other guides and transfer escorts- this is very reassuring in a strange country!). By contrast, Vinh, whose English was better, didn’t do much more than the itinerary required. I know that our first day in Hoi An he left us after our lunch and had another tour to lead, and our 3rd day in Hoi An our sightseeing was over at ! PM.

I’m very interested in the hotel changes. The Renaissance in Saigon was marvelous – I can’t imagine the Legend being better or even as good. The Dalat accommodations were far from anything else, not up to the others in furnishings, although adequate. But there was no place in this isolated location to sit anywhere on the grounds, or even on the balcony attached to the room. The staff’s English was so limited that we had to speak to 3 people to order bread and butter with our soup, and then only were understood when we wrote it out on paper; likewise they didn’t understand a request for ice. In Hoi An, the Riverside might have been nice in warm weather around the pool, but in the cool days we had, there was a lot of time we had to spend reading and watching TV in our room, again an adequate but less luxurious room than at other places. Dinner involved the hassle of transportation into and back from town, and the hotel restaurant was limited in choice and outrageously overpriced (coca cola at $3.00 USD). What made things worse was that we had much too much time at both these stops. Our first day, as I indicated, ended at 2PM. The 3rd day didn’t begin til 10AM and ended at 1PM, and that was stretching the vegetable planting and home lunch from 30 or 45 minutes to a full 2 hours. Likewise, in Dalat all the sightseeing easily fitted into a morning, and we could have been on our way to enjoying Nha Trang, arriving there that same afternoon. (Hoi An may be justify 3 days if you are into shopping big time or having clothes made, and we thought the My Lai visit was extremely worthwhile, but the 2 half days of sightseeing could fit into a single day with a few hours to spare!) Breakfast in Dalat was borderline acceptable; in Hoi An it was OK if you came at 7AM, but if you came a little after they supposedly opened they hadn’t set up half the stations, again in contrast to all the other hotels where the breakfasts were absolutely fabulous and everything was ready even ahead of time.

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