Recent Entries

October 25, 2004

Nha Trang

Arriving back in Ho Chi Minh at 8pm after four hours of Mekong boating and five hours on a minibus with a driver who was even crazy by Vietnamese standards, I decided that my best plan of action was to catch the overnight train to Nha Trang. The bible (Lonely Planet) describes Nha Trang as Vietnam's premier diving and beach location. Fabulous I thought, a couple of days of beach bumming, a few dives and definitely no getting out of bed before 10am. An Irish guy, who was on my Mekong Tour also had the same idea and prior to our train departing, we patronaged the local bar and celebrated the fact that we had made it back from the Cambodian border without becoming road kill.

Arriving anywhere at 5am is just a pain in the neck. I'm tired, I'm grumpy and many of my mental functions refuse to switch on. From the train station to the centre of town, I watched the Vietnamese, up early as usual, with smiles on their faces, enjoying the crisp morning air, doing Tai Chi in the park, pedalling merrily to work. I felt like strangling each and every one of them. Luckily, my Irish companion was a morning person and directed me to the hotel I had picked from the Bible and sent me straight to bed. I didn't wake until noon.

I am not so sure about these overnight trains. I know you save money on accommodation and long train journeys seem shorter when you sleep for the majority of the ride but I seem to always be exhausted when arriving and consequently waste half the next day recovering. Also, sleeping the whole way also has the effect of a slow Star Trek Teleporter. You get on the train, climb into you bunk, fall asleep and the next thing you know the train conductor is tugging at your sleeve. You go from A to B without seeing what was in between, no gradual changing scenery, no real understanding of the distance you have covered. I feel robbed.

Mental Note 1: Try catching day train
Mental Note 2: Avoid at all costs, trains (or any other type of transport for that matter) that arrive at destination between the hours of midnight and 8am.

Anyhoo, Nha Trang. Well, I can't really blame Nha Trang for this but the weather was pretty ordinary. The sky was grey with angry clouds, sometimes threatning and sometimes delivering rain. Not really conjucive to the beach bumming and diving days I was looking forward to . Oh well. Nha Trang has the laid back feel of a coastal community; half as many scooters and honking-obsessed buses on the road, tourists nor locals appear to be in a rush, a long inviting path parallel to the beach is dotted with seafood restaurants and bars at regular intervals on one side and with white bodies sunbathing in vain on the other side.

I think I had pretty much explored the city in half a day and in an effort to avoid boredom, I booked a one day boat tour of the offshore islands the next day. US$6 buys you a full day on a "Luxuary" boat, lunch, snorkelling, entertainment and a glass of banana wine from the floating bar. Bargain!! I retired to bed early anticipating the next day, crossing my fingers and hoping for sun.

It wasn't sunny and I wouldn't exactly have called it a luxuary boat, and I am not sure that a guy sitting in a tyre in the ocean doling out thimbles of yellow coloured liquid counts as a floating bar or that five sets of snorkels between twenty passengers is sufficient, but the entertainment alone was well worth the US$6. Imagine four topless Vietnamese men, all with singing voices worse that mine (I am on a par with a cat on heat) performing an array of songs from across the globe with a back up band consiting of two chopsticks beating empty water containers and a guitar with three strings. It was so awful it was fabulous. "Let's twist again, like we did last summer, let's twist again like we did last year, RA RA RA RA, RA RI RA RA RA RA!!" They made up with their lack of lyrics with their brilliant pole dancing. It was a great work out for the stomach muscles, I hadn't laughed that hard in a long time.

The consesus on the boat amongst the younger guests was that we would hit the bars and clubs of Nha Trang that night and have a big night out. From what I remember, the bars are really funky and the drinks are really strong. A backpacker a couple of days later told me that in Vietnam, the mixers are more expensive than the vodka and hence they skimp on the mixers and your drink becomes very dangerous. I left Nha Trang the next day with one of those hangovers that you would chew your right arm off to make go away.

Mental Note 3: Never drink again.

Posted by Jenni on October 25, 2004 01:42 PM
Category: Vietnam
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