18 October 2011

Funky Monkey [Nha Trang, Vietnam]

Nha Trang; a big city with a nice-ish beach. On the whole, a bit of a disappointment. Nha Trang is known as the beach resort town in Vietnam, and one of the top beach destinations in the world. I'm not sure how it got that reputation. To be honest I thought Hoi An was nicer... But I did enjoy spending a couple of days relaxing in the sun, so it's not all bad.

In Hoi An I parted ways with Simon and Yona. They were heading inland to the mountains, and I was making my way down the coast. We planned to meet up again in Dalat in a few days and I jumped on my overnight bus. Which, again, would have been perfect had it not been for the douche bag driver sitting on the horn the whole night.

Nha Trang has a strange weather pattern; every day is beautiful and sunny in the morning, then at about 3pm a thunder storm rolls in. The first day I got stuck in the middle of it, getting absolutely soaked (and water leaking into my cellphone. Fail!), That first day I the rain didn't seem as though it was letting up. Not much point sticking around at the beach when it's raining, so I considered moving on. But when I woke up the next morning to glorious sunshine I decided to stick around.

I was quite keen to go snorkeling as there are a few nice spots around Nha Trang. There is plenty of competition around, so the prices are quite cheap. I ended up going on a trip with 'Funky Monkey', visiting a few islands in the bay and going snorkeling, for B100,000 (US$5). It turned out to be one of the best things I have done in Vietnam. The weather was perfect and we had a good group of people on the boat. The crew is actually a band too, so they put on an awesome performance over lunch, getting lots of people up singing. They got me up to sing Pokarekare Ana, which I had not sung in about 15 years! So was a little rusty. I couldn't believe they knew that song!

In the afternoon there was 'Happy Hour', where they had a (what they called) floating bar (was more just a big polystyrene ring holding drinks). We floated out to the bar where they had free wine for about 30 minutes. I'm not a huge fan of wine but had a couple of glasses... it was FREE!

On the boat I met some super-awesome English people; Bobby, his girlfriend Karla, and Karla's sister Ria. That night we ended up hanging out and getting really drunk on the cheap Vietnamese Rum I love. Good times.

I didn't spend the whole time on the beach, taking a day to check out the 'sights' of the city... of which there are not many. There is a couple of giant Buddhas - one lying, and a big white one sitting at the top of a hill. I guess they were pretty cool. Then Cham Towers, which are ancient Champa temples built in approximately 780 A.D. Nice, but nothing to write home about.

OK, random observations:
- Nha Trang seems to have catered itself toward Russians, with Cyrillic everywhere and guest houses catered specifically for them.
- You do not get a minutes peace in Nha Trang, with people constantly coming up and trying to sell you cigarettes, cold drinks, sunglasses, books, wallets etc. It doesn't matter if you are sitting at a restaurant enjoying a quiet meal or relaxing at the beach, they will come up and bug the shit out of you.
- BUT I do love to bargain and have fun with these people, even when I don't really want what they are selling. Some times just to see how much I can get it for. I ended up with two pairs of sunglasses for about US$2 each, and a bracelet I really didn't want, but felt sorry for the woman.
- I don't know why people don't understand that big white HOLLYWOOD style signs are CHEESE! There is an island just off the mainland that has a big VINPEARL sign. Ugh.

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