The Heat is On!

Trip Start Jan 10, 2005
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Trip End May 10, 2005


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Saturday, February 5, 2005

We've finally hit the beach - and the heat! I'm glad we worked our way into it because I can't imagine coming directly from -30C to 30C and not melting! I think the more time you spend in a northern climate, the harder you find it to tolerate extreme heat. Nha Trang is a haven for beach lovers to hang out. There are lots of very suntanned - and very sunburned - tourists.

So . . . I've been hiding in an Internet cafe catching up on my email and our blog (travelogue). The computers were so slow in Hue and Hoi An that I gave up. One fellow we met did his emailing and shopping at the same time while in Hue/Hoi An. He would log on, go look in the shops, come back to retrieve his email, go look in the shops again . . . . It was really slow and frustrating. It's taken a long time to catch up. (I've now been in here for over three hours.)

There are Internet cafes everywhere here. They may or may not actually be cafes. Many also help arrange travel for tourists and have mini-buses that travel from town to town. Emailing and accessing the Internet is very inexpensive. This particular cafe charges 4,000 dong (about 30 cents CDN) per hour. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find a machine with a CD Rom, so am unable to download any photos.

Nha Trang (population 325,000) is a beach resort on the east coast of Vietnam. Our $8 USD a night hotel room is only two blocks from the beach. Martin has gone scuba diving for the day (his first dive since his exam last fall). I'm trying to keep cool.

It's a challenge keeping clean in this heat, particularly when you're travelling light (so to speak) and moving from place to place all the time. You wear and re-wear all your clothes, hand wash when you need to and then send out your laundry when everything gets too dirty. At least it's very inexpensive. Showers are interesting in that a bathroom is literally a bathroom. There's no shower stall - just a drain in the floor. As a result everything tends to get wet when you shower - walls, toilet, mirror, toilet paper. Hot water is a bonus. I find it hard to wash my hair when the water's too cold.

One of my phobias re: this type of travel is head lice. I am very prone to the creepy-crawlies. Lice thrive in this sort of climate (hot and humid) and they're a way of life over here. You often see people picking through each other's hair looking for lice. Fleas and bed bugs can also be a problem. Martin and I have purchased silk sleeping sheets for $5 - you sleep in them like a sleeping bag and they have a foldover section to cover your pillow. They also smell heavenly - they're delicately scented with some sort lovely fragrance. (We've also been taking malaria medication, though have seen very few mosquitoes.)

I spent this morning trying to figure out how we're going to get out of Vietnam before Tet. The problem is that Tet lasts for three days minimum and virtually everything closes down (it's impossible to travel and difficult to find accommodation; the banks are now closed for ten days - good thing there's ATMs!). We'd like to spend more time in Vietnam, but that's the way it goes. You always have to tell yourself you'll come back again some day, or you'd drive yourself crazy.

There are lots of different types of restaurants here - Italian, Indian, French - as in many of the larger centres. We noticed a Mexican one as well that was decorated in North American Indian paraphernalia. There was even some west coast Indian stuff (Haida?). I guess not too many people would know the difference . . . .

Later: Martin got back from diving and had a wonderful time. He went diving with the Blue Diving Club which is owned by French people from Paris. (There are a lot of French people tourists in Vietnam and particularly in Nha Trang.) There were a French couple (who combined had over 200 dives under their belts), six Swedes and three Brits diving as well. For $42 USD he got two forty-five minute dives, lunch and drinks (non-alcoholic of course because drinking and diving - just like drinking and driving - don't mix). He said the visibility was excellent and saw a 4-5' moray eel, a lionfish, lots of small colourful fish that would knock right up against your goggles - and loads of coral. It exceeded his expectations. (They did tease him about the amount of air he consumed, particularly on his first dive. This was his first dive since his open water exam last September in Sask and he was a bit nervous and when you're nervous you tend to breathe heavier. He had to share air from the the dive master's tank.)

I've found a computer with a CD Rom so can get some photos downloaded! Unfortunately, I have discovered that I damaged one of my CDs by writing on it with pen and can't access the photos. Luckily, there were only about 35 photos on the CD and some of the pictures are already up on this website. Many were of a temple we visited in Chian Mai - I could also contact a fellow traveller from Australia who visited the same temple and ask him for copies. Lesson learned - burn two CDs - and don't write on them with a regular pen!
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