Nha Trang aka Vietnam’s Russia

We caught a plane from Da Nang Airport to Nha Trang, as alternative to the 12-hour  sleeper bus. All in all I think it was a good will, even though we had to get up early to get to  Da Nang with a private driver and hang around at the  airport for the plane. Once in Nha Trang, we had to get an airport shuttle to what seems like it was an old airport and runway in Nha Trang so all in all it was a more  expensive exercise, but far more comfortable and a time saver. At the drop off  point a taxi driver tried to con us into paying an extortionate amount for the 1km trip so on principle we decided against any more assistance and begrudgingly walked with our heavy backpacks, sweating profusely. We arrived at iHome – our hostel before check in but they let us store our bags, shower, and chill in the common room for as long as we liked. It was nice to just chill for a bit after the semi-arduous journey from Hoi An very early in the morning.

After  a clean up and a phone charge so we load our map and get some directions, we headed off into town map in hand to see some of the sites of Nha Trang. We grabbed  some lunch and then headed north along the beach (which we soon found out was a horrendous  excuse for a beach, it had a huge drop in the sand where the waves hit and it would not have been a pleasant bathing experience). We headed to Nha Trang’s biggest cathedral (nb. it is considered one of the main sites  of  Nha..think that’s saying something) and further north towards the the Long Son Pagoda and Po Nagar towers (very similar to the  My Son temples of Hoi An, but within town and with only 2 real structures to see). By this point we were utterly  exhausted and very much ready to hit the sack. We grabbed some snacks at a little store by the pagoda and jumped in a taxi and headed back to our hostel.

The next day we signed up for a snorkelling tour through our hostel, for only about  $15 it was a great purchase. A minivan picked us up in the morning and we headed to the port in the south of town where we’d  catch our boat for the day. The group wasn’t too big,  maybe around  15-20 and we were visiting three different snorkelling spots and had a huge lunch including heaps of  fresh fruit on the boat between the last two sites. The sites  were out  near some islands and it was absolutely beautiful. Our snorkels were good quality and you were given flippers if you wanted them.  Of course it wasn’t the Great Barrier Reef but it was nicest get away  from the swarming crowds of Russians in the middle of  town and head towards some nice peaceful spots where the water wasn’t even that cold!

I will  interject here and add my take on the Russians in Nha Trang. You will walk down the streets and for once there are restaurant and tour shop signs in something other than English and Vietnamese, but  who would have guessed Russian would take the cake?! Well Russia and Vietnam have had some good ties in past, from WWII onwards and it is far warmer than somewhere in Russia as a beach getaway destination, I am still confused why they would choose here of anywhere in the world, but perhaps they are not quite aware that there are far nicer beaches surely closer to the Russia homeland. Anyway, long story short, lots of Russians in Nha Trang, still not sure why.

Anyway, back to the snorkelling, unfortunately, I didn’t take my camera out this day because I was afraid it would fall in the water, so no shots to prove it, but the trip was well worth the investment! Later that night we caught up with two boys we’d met  on the  snorkelling tour and decided to invest in a seafood feast -because if you’re going to eat  seafood in Vietnam, surely you do so in a seaside town! 10s of restaurants lined the streets with their live seafood offerings spilling onto the sidewalks. We opted for one in the end with avery compelling saleswoman and ate (and drank Beer Saigon) until our hearts and heads were very content. We ended up buying a couple more beers in a bottle shop down  the road and heading for the beach to  listen to the somehow peaceful crashing of the waves on the shores, detailing to one another our travel stories and laughing the night away.

The next day we decided to give the famous Nha Trang mud baths a shot, we’d heard a bit about them and thought we better see what all the fuss was about. After a little deliberation we went with the 100 Egg Mud Bath, still not entirely  sure why it insists on having Egg in the name, except that when you bathe you are in an egg shaped bath..Well it was an interesting experience. We got a taxi for around 130,000VND using a meter with not really any other option, on the way back though there was a shuttle back into town for a cheaper price, we just had to wait around a little bit for it.

Anyway the whole experience was quite interesting, the people running the show  are determined the anti-bacterials in the  mud mixed with spring  water can cure diseases like leprosy, still not so sure, but it did leave our skin feeling as soft as a baby’s bottom. Plus we also got to hang in the main mineral water pool too included in our ticket price of ~$15 or 250,000VND. All in all well worth it for a laugh (multiple). We returned to the hostel in the afternoon for a relax and a drink on the rooftop as the sun set – just a perfect end to our time in Nha Trang!!


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