25 Mar Nha Trang
After some searching around, we finally find a hotel/guesthouse, away from ” hotel street”. Unlike the big booming tourist street a few blocks down, we are surrounded by locals who live and hang out here. Yet, it is still within walking distance to the beach.
Since the sun shines bright and cheery again, we head to the beach. On the way there around the corner from the hotel, we discover a small cafe, which offers good breakfast and pastries for a reasonable price. The owners are from Crete. They used to have a business in Greece, but when the economy went sour and taxes started skyrocketing they had to shut down their business and pretty much lost their lively hood. Not ready to give up on working hard and having a business, the brother-sister team decided to give Vietnam a chance. Although they do not speak vietnamese, they love it here and their little “Greek-cafe” seems to be a hit with tourists and locals…and of course with us.
We had no idea, that Nha Trang is such a touristy town. Especially the beach area is full of overpriced “western” restaurants, bars, souvenir- and jewellery shops. The markets are much more organised, clean, and almost resemble tiny malls with small stalls. There are no dirt floors, meat markets, or live chickens to be seen. Instead, we walk past many jewellery-, electronic-, and phone stores, which all advertise their goods in big Russian letters on their building. Apparently, Nha Trang is especially popular with Russian tourists. For some reason, the Russian tourists are not always so popular with the locals, at least that is what we gather from quite a few statements we hear, while we are there. When, we ask, where to buy sun screen, we are told to go to the ‘local’ pharmacy and tell the pharmacists, we are not Russians to get the stuff cheaper.
When we sit on the sea wall at the beach to people watch and to enjoy the scenery, a few of the local women and men who walk up and down the beach to sell fruit, beer, boiled lobster, fried bananas, hand crafts, or what have you, stop by to sell their goods. Even though, we don’t buy anything, some sit down with us to talk. Many of them speak English and are happy to practice it. They just wonder where we are from and ask about our travels. Our favourite “fruit-lady” is especially happy to hear that we are from the States and that she gets to talk some English. She is funny and witty and keeps it no secret, that she does not like the “other” tourists while she carves out a pineapple for us. She pretty much sums it up by saying “They never smile, they don’t try to speak English and don’t understand what I say. They never answer or say anything and they always look mad.” She tells us , that she’s been selling fruit at the beach for many years and how things have changed over the years. Before she takes off, she hands us a few extra bananas: “Happy hour bananas!” Then she carries her goods to a Russian couple sunbathing several yards away to offer her goods. As she walks there, she looks at us and points at them and makes a frumpy face, like trying to say “see!? They are not happy!”
We watch her saying hello and smiling and trying to talk to the tourists. But they pretty much just ignore her. As a little payback, she taps the guy on his speedo-covered butt before searching for the next potential customer. As she walks away she gives us a huge, mischievous smile, shrugs her shoulders and continues on down the beach line.
Occasionally, she’d come back around, waves at us and make faces at some of the other beach goers.
Since the weather is so nice and the beach is very pretty, we decide to stay a couple of days in town.
The beach is regarded as one of the best in Asia. The water is clean, the waves are huge and make it difficult to actually go swimming, but it is fun to try to jump into the waves, without getting beat up too much. Of course it is even more fun to watch other people getting beat up by the waves.
While in Nha Trang, we also take a long walk to the Po Nagar towers. The ancient towers were built before 781 and are located across the river up on a hill in town. Although it does not take long to look at the couple small temples, we stay for a while in the park like vicinity, have an ice cream, listen to a group of locals play traditional music on old instruments and watch a group of young ladies dance in traditional costumes for several large Russian guided tourist groups.
While we have dinner one time at the local place close to the hotel, we meet Pavel and Tanja from Russia. Contrary to what our fruit lady told us about Russians, the two speak English very well and are a very friendly, happy, smiley couple. The two came to the restaurant on bikes and Ron remembered riding past them at a bicycle store, when we first arrived in Nha Trang. We come to find out that Tanya and Pavel plan on going on a short cycle tour, maybe a loop that somehow leads through Dalat. After finding out about our long distance travel, they are all excited and ask us all kinds of questions. We chatted for quite some time and give them a couple of tips about riding to Dalat. It is always great to see cool people like this getting excited to go on their adventure and we wish them the best.
After a few relaxing days in Nha Trang, we decide it is time to move on.
Just some more pictures from Nha Trang