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Nha Trang, Vietnam

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Nha Trang Vietnam

Nha Trang was my first step into Vietnam. To tell you the truth, I'm not sure what I expected. I think that I hoped to see a few rickshaws and maybe a bit of rustic countryside, but Vietnam has proven to be a bit more than that. I can generally find the humor in just about anything, but this time I think I'll just be exact about the experiences that I've had and let you draw the conclusions.

Nha Trang Vietnam Locals

Arriving into Vietnam was quite beautiful. On the surface, you will see green mountains and lush forests, along with a scatter of Palm trees and maybe even a bit of mist running along the tops of those mountains. There is certainly a tropical feel to the environment and as I travel further down towards the equator, it becomes warmer. As usual, I knew I was going to be blanketed in humidity and so I threw on some comfortable clothes for the first day. I had days of Vietnam ahead of me and so I thought I'd jump in with both feet.

Nha Trang Vietnam Waterfront

I arrived into Vietnam by boat. As you've probably guessed it has been easier to get around to many of these places by boat rather than jumping from airport to airport. So most of my trip over the months is spent arriving into ports, sailing down rivers, but also riding in trains, cars, buses, vans, or whatever it takes to get to where I need to go. Besides, there is nothing in the world like being on the open ocean when the sun rises. Some nights are spent in hotels and others are spent being rocked to sleep by the ocean. A perfect mixture of both.

Nha Trang Vietnam Port

The port that we arrived in was a good trek from the town of Nha Trang. I was feeling frisky this particular morning and thought we'd save on the cab and just walk to town. I could see a few hills and the like, but I figured the exercise would be good since I've finally given in to the idea of using my feet over the weeks. After walking along the pier and exiting the gate, the first thing my sidekick and I  encountered was numerous locals on motorcycles who began to bombard us with requests to hire them for transportation or tours. There were at least 20 of them and we tried to politely say "No Thanks", but it did no good. They kept following us as we walked and tried to pressure us. Next came the offer for prostitutes…which was also met with a "No". I finally had to raise my voice to get them to back away some. I'm such a sweet guy, so it's not in my nature to have to do that.

Nha Trang Vietnam Tuk Tuk Driver

You're probably thinking that it doesn't sound so bad, but hang in here with me. We walked further and within two minutes a motorcycle pulled up ahead of us, the rider got off and began urinating  in our path. Okay, so I figure this is probably okay in this culture but it did surprise me and we walked around him. More motorcycles pulled along side us and badgered…then taxis began honking and following us. No matter how many times you say "No"…it does no good.

Nha Trang Vietnam 

As we headed down the hill into the first part of the town, I was surprised at the poverty that I began to see. I'm a seasoned traveler, so I've see this sort of thing before, but after just being in China, Japan and Korea..I wasn't expecting it. It was very, very obvious that we were not locals and people began to stare. Many more motorcycles zipped by and horns were constantly honking. Then the rickshaws started coming. Again, aggressive…and wouldn't take "No" for an answer. I was trying to stop and take pictures and look around, but it wasn't easy since you couldn't get a moments peace. Before I go any further, I do completely understand that in countries like this, many of the people live on little to no income and any opportunity to make money to feed their family is pursued. I don't see anything wrong with that and certainly don't mean to sound cruel by pushing people away who want to sell rides. However, having person after person do this to you 10 hours a day gets to be a bit much…I haven't even mentioned the multiple people trying to sell you fake Rolex's, Oakley sunglass and so forth.

Nha Trang Vietnam Taxi Motor Bike

The town had small shops on both sides that mainly were open fronts. Every building was very run down and the streets were filthy and wet. I don't have a pretentious bone in my body, so I'm not being judgmental. After walking for a while, we came to an entrance to the beach. Nha Trang does has some wonderful beaches. The entrance though was through a rusted old gate through a path of overgrown weeds and bushes. Some trees gave a little shade and it looked as though this area hadn't been tended to for years. A group of school children who were on a field trip approached us and began joyously speaking in broken english. The teacher encouraged us to interact, but we politely moved on after a few minutes due to the heat. Shortly, we encountered a few old men who apparently were swimming nude in the ocean and became irritated at us walking by and waved us away, so we headed back to the main road.

Nha Trang Vietnam Beach 

As we finally made our way into the main town area, the buildings became nicer and were a combination of hotels and shops. Hotels were cheap at about $20 per night for a simple room. We still were bombarded every two minutes by taxis, motorcycles and sunglass salespeople. It is inevitable that you will feel bad for these people and will want to help them out, however, you soon learn that you can't help everyone. After about an hour or so of walking, it was time for a bathroom break. There were a few portable "Water Closets"  here and there along the beach area, but as we soon discovered, there is a mean Vietnamese man who watches over them and wants money. Unfortunately, we hadn't purchased any local currency yet, so relief was out of the question. This is when using the side of the road as a public urinal began to make complete, logical sense to me…however, we refrained.

Nha Trang Vietnam Locals

Nha Trang does have a few interesting buildings and a war memorial. The town is large enough to wander around for hours, but as you move away from the main street, the scenery does change. This is not a tropical paradise by any means, but I can see where a few backpacker types might enjoy a long beach stay. The price is right and the weather is sunny and hot.

Nha Trang Vietnam Grounds Worker

One of the buildings I ran across, seemed odd to me. It was large and pink and I never did figure out what it was. The Vietnamese language is impossible for me to figure out, so I couldn't read the signs well. The building just seemed unusual and could have possibly been a church or memorial of some sort.

Nha Trang Vietnam 

This post is a bit late, so at this point I have been to other places in Vietnam. I want to share my thoughts about those places, but it may be a few days to a week before I can. There are some photos of Nha Trang HERE, that you can look at. I also have other photos of Vietnam in my Flickr album, but it's best that you wait for additional posts before they make a lot of sense.

Nha Trang Vietnam Locals


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