Welcome to Russia! Erm, I mean Nha Trang!
I had heard about the number of Russians in Nha Trang but you have to see it to believe it. Vietnam’s wartime alliance with Russia and a direct flight between Russia and Nha Trang means that you see more Russians than Vietnamese in this city (okay, m exaggerating but there are a lot of white faces here!). The street signs, the menus in restaurants, shop names etc all have Russian translations. In fact, Sev and I passed an outdoor cinema that was showing Ice Age in Russian! Lol. I was told that you frequently get stopped by Russian tourists (to ask for directions for eg) but they speak to you in Russian and when they realize you don’t speak their language they get confused, like they don’t get it how you don’t speak Russian in Nha Trang. LOL!
The city itself feels like beach side resorts in Tenerife for eg, you have really big hotels along the beach and lots of cafes & restaurants along the promenade. The sights within the city aren’t very many. There is a cathedral, the Long Son Pagoda and the Cham Towers, all of which can be done in half a day.
The lure for me are sights just outside the city and of course, the street food. I’ve tried delicious sea food pancakes for 10,000VND that’s a little under $0.5 and the best beef pho yet for just $1.5!
Outside the city there is the Chua Suoi Do Pagoda which is around 17kms to the west of Nha Trang and is set in the mountains. I’ve seen better pagodas but the bike ride to the countryside and then the walk up the mountains was definitely worth it.
On the same day I decided to go to the Ba Ho waterfalls which is around 27kms north of Nha Trang. There were 3 sets of waterfalls that you can swim in, I decided to stop after the first one coz I had no incentive to go further. But I’ve realized that the more time I spend around a water body the more I crave to learn how to swim (something I really want to do this trip!). The ride from the pagoda to the waterfalls there was pretty shit as most of the road was under construction AND it was the start of Vietnamese public holidays so the traffic and pollution was terrible. At the end of the 90km ride, when I reached the hostel I saw that my face was caked black with dust, yuck! Of course, I had been walking around the town without realizing what my face looks like! No wonder people were looking at me funny! 😀 But the return trip from the waterfalls to the city, along the coast was pretty good!
Thinking back, my favourite things to see/do in Vietnam have been when I was on the bike, regardless of who was riding. It’s just the best way to get to some away from all the noise and get off the beaten tracks. Some people buy bikes and ride the whole length of the country, for me it would be too much, I prefer renting bikes for the day.
Another day I decided to go to Long Beach which is deemed as the best beach in Nha Trang and it is around 27kms south of the city. Long Beach was pretty $hit. I overshot the beach by 10kms (coz places are not sign posted very well) and I had to ride back that additional distance but I just couldn’t find the beach. When I finally found it (I had ridden 40+kms by then), it was FULL of Vietnamese people (I chose a public holiday of all days to go there, silly me) so it was cramped, noisy and dirty, to say the least. I managed to find a lounge chair for myself but as soon as I sat down I was asked to leave coz it was for locals only! When I finally found a seat, I put my headphones on and played Sudoku on my phone while sipping on my favourite fresh mango juice. 45mins later I decided to head back to Nha Trang. On the ride back I told myself that my day could have been worse (at least I had mango juice and the snicker bar to salvage my day) and (unfortunately) I was right! I found out that day that there’s been some fraud (of 9000pounds!!) on my credit card (which is my only travel card). After calling my bank they cancelled my card but said they could only send me a new card to my UK address (which is thankfully my friend’s address) which means I have to ask my friend to send that card to an address in Vietnam. Not so straightforward as it means that I have to plan the next 2 weeks of my trip which is a pain coz I’ve been planning max 2 days in advance. And also, I need to figure out how to keep going on the cash I have left without incurring heavy fees by using my debit card. So this was easily the shittiest day of my trip but hey, it seriously could have been even worse! In hindsight, I reckon if I had gone to Long Beach on a quieter day I would have enjoyed it! For now, I am ready for Da Lat.