Nha Trang

13 05 2010

We survived the sleeper bus from Hoi An to Nha Trang – the pop music was playing all night, there were several stops, the beds were semi-reclined and very narrow (3 beds across  in a normal sized bus), but we got into Nha Trang at 6am.  It was a little confusing as the bus stopped about 3 times in different places in Nha Trang before stopping near the beach where us tourists were allowed to get out – it was a little nervous watching all the locals get out and leave and wonder why we weren’t allowed to get off at our destination.

We ignored the hotel touts and made our way to Sakura Hotel – a little piece of Japan in Vietnam, but only the name.

After a little rest we went for a walk along the beach. Being mid morning most people were still in bed so it was quiet. The beach was lovely – little beach huts along the shore, white sands and blue waters… but the amount of rubbish made it gross. There were bits of food, corn cobs, rubbish bags, plastic bags, bottles, polystyrene and poo in the water and along the shore. Somebody isn’t looking after their tourist beach very well…

We went and booked a snorkeling tour for tomorrow and found a vegetarian (com chay) little diner next store. Again, for 10,000 dong we had a plate of rice with about 5 different options. After that we disappeared inside to escape the heat, venturing out again in the evening to go to the supermarket and to dinner at another vegetarian restaurant for a rice plate and pho. Unfortunately there was a fly in my pho soup so I didn’t feel so hungry after that. While we have been eating very cheaply, most of the family run vegetarian restaurants serve basically the same thing – choice of noodle soup or rice and veg/mock meats.

The next day we were picked up at 8.30am to go out snorkeling all day. The tour was more expensive than the $4 party boat/island hopping with 40 other people tours but we felt that the extra $10 for a vegetarian lunch and small group was well spent. We had 7 people on our boat and went to 3 different locations for snorkeling, about an hour at each site. We saw lots of colourful coral- yellow, blue, purple, pink- and fish everywhere- star fish, bright yellow fish, zebra striped fish, parrot fish chomping on the coral, long fish standing up straight and more. Lunch was good- 3 dishes we could eat plus heaps of fresh fruit (mango, guava, watermelon, pineapple and banana).  Our guide loved to jump off the top of the boat into the water and would say “why not?” “don’t be lazy” to push others into doing the same. The only bad thing about the all day trip was that it was deceptively cool in the water and we all got a bit sun burnt.

We tried something different for dinner – an Indian restaurant around the corner as we were feeling a little bit sick of the “same same but different” com chay. We had aloo gobi and chana masala with lemon juice (like nimbu pani). One bad thing about more international restaurants was that, apart from being more expensive, hawkers come into the shop trying to sell their cigarettes/books/souvenirs etc. You don’t get that eating at the local family run places.

As a result of the sun burn, Benno spent the next day in bed with repeated aloe vera applications, feeling sorry for his sun burn. Lara went out and found more aloe cream, take away vegetarian for lunch and organised our train tickets overnight while Benno stayed indoors.

We took a sleeper train from Nha Trang to Saigon, leaving about 9 or 10 pm and taking 7 hours to get to Saigon, arriving about 4am.