This is a sort of travelogue, experiences and observations combined with random contemplations,
of a trip through Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam in Jan-March 2011. This blog is now closed.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Nha Trang

A beach resort it is! Kilometers of white, if coarse, sand. Hundreds of hotels, restaurants, bars. Hawkers trying to sell sunglasses, books, food, anything you can think of. Tourists everywhere – but not that many. Nha Trang is actually a very pleasant place, with all the amenities of a beach resort, except the over-crowdedness. This is the high season, well, the tail end of the high season, but still prime time for the tourist industry, yet, they must be struggling. Mind you, this is the most touristic place we have been to, in the past 10 weeks, but it still doesn’t compare to a Spanish, Italian or Turkish resort town. All very small scale, except for this enormous beach. And still, like Danang, there is a massive building effort going on, mostly large, luxurious hotels, setting up shop along the boulevard. I wonder if they ever fill up. If it does, it will do so with Russians, every restaurant here has a menu in Russian, every shop advertises in Russian (something we haven’t seen anywhere else in Vietnam).
There are several restaurants on the beach, as well as a government place that rents out deck chairs with large pillows, under straw parasols. Which is where we spent one morning, or, to be correct, where we parked our stuff one morning, so that we could enjoy the sea, and the huge waves crashing onto the beach. Every 8 or 10 seconds or so another decision: jumping over the wave, or diving through it. Exhausting! But good fun, and it was only much later that we noticed that we had both badly burned.

(1) Nha Trang beach in the high season, and (2) the surf from our hotel rooftop bar.
They also do boat trips to the various islands offshore, which have been classified as to their activity, one for snorkeling, one for lunch, and another for sunbathing on the beach. Especially the snorkeling appealed to us. Mind you, you cannot mix up activities, there is a rigid pattern. And obviously, all boats follow the same pattern.
(3) Tourists boats lined up, the number of tires being a measure of their confidence in the captain’s abilities (or those of other captains).

(4, 5, 6) Some examples of fish which one could, presumably, see offshore, snorkeling.
We didn’t take the tour, went to the Oceanographic Institute instead, where we watched the various fishes in the aquarium…
This is Champa country, of course, and true to form, Nha Trang also has its Cham towers. Quite different from My Son, these ones are heavily restored, and come with dancing and music performance, and bus loads of tourists, the four kilometers to town easily covered. All a little artificial. Far more attractive, in fact, are the fishing boats in the harbour, next to the towers, and in the river mouth: far more picturesque. On Monday morning, 9.30 am, there was some activity, not much, obviously slow starters, the Vietnamese.  
(7) Musicians at the Cham towers in Nha Trang, note their enthusiasm.

(8, 9, 10, 11) The fishing boats.

(12, 13) Some activity offshore, note the rowing with the feet – must be more comfortable than using your hands, why otherwise apply this technique?
(14) And activity onshore.
This being the last day of our stay here, and the first day of bright sunshine again, we burned a little further whilst walking back from the harbour, before we got into a taxi to the hotel, checked out, spent two hours eating an enormous plate of shusi, then another half a hour devouring ice cream, followed by a lazy coffee on a terrace in the shade, an hour-long full body massage, another short spell on the beach in late afternoon, and a few Vietnamese springrolls, to make sure we wouldn’t go hungry, before we got to the airport for our flight to Saigon, and on to Bangkok. It feels like a very long time, but we have only been away for ten weeks. Only.

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