After Phan Rang, I followed the old Mandarin Road to the North, with its marvelous views over the spectacular Cam Ranh Bay. This is probably the best deepwater harbor in Asia, with the inner bay offering protection from typhoons. Small wonder that the French used one side of the Bay (Ba Ngoi, or Cam Lam) as their naval base, and that in 1965 the USA built a huge base and airfields on the opposite - or Point Cam Linh side, where the city of Cam Ranh is located.
[NOTE made on St Patrick's Day, 2002: writing this today about what I did in 1956 is a bit strange, so excuse my hopping from history through present to future, and just look at the chronology and facts gathered post-facto from the WWW ;o]
The Russian admiral Rozhestvenski used the Bay on his way to defeat in the battle of Tsushima, in 1905. The Japanese took it from the French from 1941 to 1945. After its most intensive use in the Vietnam War, the area was returned to South Vietnam in 1972 and captured by North Vietnam in 1975. It became a USSR base in 1980, but the lease will most likely not be renewed upon expiry in 2004.
[given the history of the Cham mentioned on the previous page, complete with Hindu and Muslim contributions, one wonders where the Portuguese and Dutch entered into the picture...;o) ]
[Answ. found March 18: Portuguese from Macao taught Christianity near Danang in 1550; "Foreign trade with the West began when the Dutch ship "Ryp" docked at Hanoi in 1626" ( Barbara Cohen, The Vietnam Guidebook)]
click on map to enlarge
(thanks to Peter A Bird ) for detailed map
Because of my earlier brief career in the Dutch Navy and my later and much longer career in oceanography, this Bay fascinates me - wherefore I take the liberty to digress and
mark down a number of links and observations about the Bay and the Vietnam War, etc. below:
Arrival at Cam Ranh Bay + photographs
Cam Ranh Bay Detailed Map
Cam Ranh Bay Historical Notes
Cam Ranh Bay Photographs Darryl Graney, AA
Cam Ranh Bay
Ocean Quest ??? what happened?
Vietnam - CIA - The World Factbook
Results of March 17, 2002 CIA Search on www.odci.gov:
for the term "Vietnam" : 275 docs from 3028 searched,