(16) Lounging around NHA TRANG
Trip Start Oct 03, 2007
31Trip End Dec 20, 2007
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Following the awful overnight trip, the rice paddy scenery we noted bleary-eyed as we neared Nha Trang was very pretty and the skies were overcast at least. Something!
Once confronted with the expected entourage of commision-seeking hostel reps on mopeds, we quickly decided to make for the seafront budget strip over the inland downtown equivalent. We chose a reasonable place with a tripple room on the top floor with a balcony just fitting in a view of the beach. Promptly crashed out till lunchtime and I still felt rotten anyhow! I swore to myself that I would allow one more day to allow for relief from the medicine or I would consult someone to diagnose the bugger.....
The rest proved worthy as we almost miraculously awoke to clear blazing skies. wooot!
Struggled through lunch as hadn't eaten for nearly 24hours and then staggerd to the beach where no sooner had we lay down, the light rainfalls recommenced. Double d'oh! Completely unmotivated to do much more, the TV and James Bond films came to the rescue as entertainment. The guys had steaks for dinner and I munched a whopping delicious house salad, then another needy crashout!
So yeah, conclusively not much interest stuff to regurgitate from this day either :(
DAY 17 - Friday October 19th:
Vast improvement in both health and constructive tourism - yay! It took the entire morningt to pass, but by the avo, all was hunky dory after 4 days sickness thank goodness!
Wait, I'm forgetting to present the résumé of Nha Trang City: a multifaceted seasisde personality, one can have a 24hour party, snorkelling at reefs, visit Cham ruins and Buddhist buildings, gaze at fishermen at their best or soak in mineral mud. It's a booming fishing industrial centrealso renowned for its salt production. Jsut outside the town proper are peaceful basic communities taking care fo the rich rice paddies. The weather is best between January and February (Southern Vietnam seasonally differs somewhat from the North) but of course the weather we got lumbered with restricted what we could do...
Back on track and back on the bikes........felt much better and breathed a sigh of relief but still vouched no alcohol and sensible food for a full day more. The weather had cleared up so a day of exploring the surrounding delights of NT was on the cards. The day didn't start off that great as my bike with a borken mirror, broken speedometer, faulty petrol gauge, jumpy accelerator, crappy front break and stick gear changes.....conked out with no petrol on the busy beachfront dual carriage way. Cursing the overpriced roadside vendor to the rescue, my hooter also failed me at this point so I was actualyl quite concerned for the first time that my bike wasn't anywhere near roadworthy....helmetless too...being pulled over by money-grabbing petty police and having my passport confiscated would have been the icing on the cake.
Enough complaints, the three of us with the Dutch customarily sharing a moped headed off eastbound for a 6hour adventure. Actually, before I blab on about the day's events, I must elaborate on a group of people who offer special albeit pricey tours in Vietnam - an exhilerating once in a lifetime experience unqiue to Vietnam. They are called the "easy Riders" and they largely operate in Southern Vietnam from Saigon to Nha Trang...Essentially, they are knowledgable, friendly, bikeriders who ask about $40US per day for a ride on the back of their bike with baggage strapped on, with food/drinks/entrances/petrol/guiding and accommodation of all description included. Obviously double the average traveler's daily budget but going by the overwhelming concensus fed from fellow backpackers (couples and singletons young and old from all countries alike), they are most definitely worth every cent forked out for a limited amount of time...You get taken up and around places where public trransport and the navigeable tourist track don't allow for and you come face to face with locals in eateries/homestay environments who have often never seen a western human in person! Scenery is stunning, amount of diverse landmass covered every day is huge and the guys are into socialising too......I would so do it when/if I return to Vietnam but not on this occasion.......They have offices in Nha Trang, Dalat, Mui Ne and Saigon I believe and always track YOU down before you would them and this is exactly what happened to us... Oh well!
Politely declining the offer, I left the navigating up to the Dutch and just enjoyed tagging behind breathing in the fresh air to accelerate my recovery. For the first couple of dozen ks, it was primarily green, hilly, rice paddy and fishing village scenery wise, proving that Nha Trang is far from just a mere party beach bum town. At one point we rocked up in a hamlet and found out way to a connected network of fields which we rode through, geting close up pics. We felt like going on and on but come early afternoon we returned back downtown.
Arriving back, it was a rendez-vous with the historical relics mainly consisting of a gian-seated recling white Buddha and the Long Son Pagoda where we felt like ignorant, uncultured intruders upon seemingly disrupting some kind of event being carried out by the resident-monks there. The sweeping views of the busy downtown, green background and sandy/fish-farming foreground were beautiful. Trying to beat the approaching sunset, we zoomed to the Western extreme of the city where the beach strip runs opening into the commercial and residential port. Nothing much there other than a cablecar line leading across to an Island where Vin Pearl lies, a Vietnamese Disneyland imitation with funky rides. A little on the expensive side and not really fitting so gave it a miss. Already had a great day.
During sunset we handed over the bikes and made for a really really exquisite restaurant, "Kinky Kim's". This catering and entertainment establishment has sa lot more to it thanfirst meets the eye from the road. Other than the scumptuos food we had, it has in-house beauty parlour services, games, a bar, but most importantly, overt publicity about a municipal campaign against paedophilia committed against local children by old fat western men...Currently this issue is at the forefront of Thai politics as a long-term crime-committing Canadian male has been raping Thai kids and is now under serious trial. Vietnam alike is cracking down on this and reckognizing the problem particularly bad in Nha Trang. On the front page of the menu and displayed on the walls is an outline of a campaign and awareness info for everyone....Really touching!
On a funny note, we witnessed a funny instance of a young local boy trying to sell merchandise to a group of Irish men sat inside. Initially, they weren't having any of it then one of them gave in and bought something but THEN the kid challened him to a "friendly" game of Connect 4...money got involved in the affair and before long the Irish chap had embarrassingly lost twice over hands down, the kid gleefully escaping about 12 bucks better off. Was hilarious to watch and all took it in good stride. Those kids must be master experts and probably rarely come away empty handed lol...
Chilled out at the bar there and got chatting to a youngish couple who had just arrived with a couple of Easy Rider guys from Saigon ahving done a 4 day trip connecting the two places. Fascinated by their "Top Southeast Asian" experience and inquisitive to learn more, the appeal of this group grew and grew. Obviously I promised myself I wouldn't be trying this out this time round. Sooooo unbelievably tempting mind you! I just had to settle for the spontaneous semi-wild biking me and my compatriots had succeeded in doing thus far as a form of mental compensation haha. can't ever have it all at once!
DAY 18 - Saturday October 20th:
Quite an amusing and random day this one! With now only a trip to 5 of the nearby islands evading us, what we deemed a "standard" includive tour turned into more of a booze cruise.......From the moment of our shutle bus pickup at 8am, we realised this was going to be the case. Theoretically the 9outlying islands offer great snorkelling and diving spots along with beach lounging, but the weather we received was shit once more. Our itinerary was meant to include a snorkel, swim, visit of as fish-farm and docking at 2 isladn for free time ending with an aquarium visit. However, due to the showers, we spent the best part of the time aboard the crazy boat being treated to comical entertainment.
Our boat was full with mixed nationalities and ages. The morning entailed chatting, sitting, listening to cheesy Mediterranean/Caribbean tune, drinking beers and eating a glorious mixed-food buffet spread lunch at 11am! Between tall this we did get our snorkelling wish granted only to promptly disvoer the murky waters and limited visible reef. Warm water and a nice dip all the same...Stranded in the middle of the ocean with the rain pouring outside, the cabin crew proceeded to spoil us with hilarious singing and dancing using the boat's containers and material as instruments. There was loads of sexual innuendos and interaction of the audience throughout and the lead guy sang both native songs in Vietnamese and Western songs in English.....with this we had a free glass of Dalat red wine with pineapple.... ike benedin medicine in both texture and taste. potent too eugh! I guess they really don't have any control or alternative options when burdened with awful weather in the rainy season, so this is the usual "Agenda" rather than visiting the islands properly and ahving cultural insights galore. No-one explored as we all laid-back and got invovled in the ambiance.
Eventually with a break of rain, it was our chance to dock at Island 3 for some brief lounging, frisbee throwing and for some, jet-skiing etc.... Was remote and quite nice, no other groups around and for a while it was fine....more rain fell so evacuated to the boat again. Before the final visit to the only other accessible place on the normal route, we were treated to an exoit tropical fruits party with more beers of course and more comical tomfoolery. Viewing the aquarium at Hon Mieu Isle last was in fact a pleasant way to end the tour and brought with it a feeling of having seen something properly related to the Isles here. SAw huge turtles, various kinds of shark..nothing outstanding to describe....A bit of a shame not have grabbed more top photos but overall a cool experience.
Understandably dropped back earlier than forecast instead of compromising with more drinking, chillout time was in order. Every time the TV was turned on, a james Bond film would be screened so we enjoyed watching a couple for free - Golden Gun & Octopussy...closest I've got to a western film or going to a cinema since ariving in China at end of February lol! For the evening, I refrained from joining the Dutch and others out on the razz along the standard deadly Sailing Club>Why Not Bar pub crawl route. We were Dalat bound early the next day and despite getting a hard-time from the guys, it wasn't such a hard to come back early and I still had doubts over my health........