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Andy’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 15 Feb 2007

Location: Nha-Trang, Vietnam

MapNHA-TRANG - SUN, SEA AND SAND/PIMPS, PROSTITUTES AND PICKPOCKETS
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I was warned about Nha-trang by a girl i met in the Perhentian Islands, so long ago in Malaysia. Why did i not listen to her?!

Nha-trang is a coastal city; the main resort in Vietnam.
With its wide beach and warm climate it attracts many backpackers on the South East Asian circuit. I was disappointed. The beach, though wide, long and palm fringed was average, with coarse sand and murky water. The town is developing rapidly and lacks character. Hotels, bars and restaurants are all spaced out and largely empty giving Nhatrang a feel that it has hit on hard times. It's only redeeming feature was the broad promenade interspersed with tree lined parks and modern art (which the Vietnamese love - you find it everywhere) that bordered the beach.

We spent a day or two on the beach, enjoying the cheap sun loungers, soaking up the rays and reading our books. Local women in conical hats, with bamboo sticks over their shoulders filled with cigarettes, chewing gum, postcards, bracelets and t-shirts tried to get our attention. The phrase "no thankyou" soon lost all meaning to me.

The first evening was spent on the roof of our hotel drinking and playing cards. We decided it would be a good idea to head to a local bar called the Sailing Club. Six of us would set out, only four would return.

I know better than most people the shame of a dancefloor injury. I still dare not attempt the running man dance without supervision. How Susan broke her leg in two places i will never know. Was it Big Fish, Little Fish, Cardboard Box? Doubtful. The Moonwalk? Unlikely. 80s Robot with the Lawnmower mixed in for good measure? Quite possibly.

The next day we went to see Susan in hospital. I hate even the most technologically advanced, clean and modern medical facilities and was glad i had not accompanied the wounded the night before. Louis described a guy covered in blood who was wheeled into a small room by himself and the quietly door closed - possibly to die!

The doctors could not perform the operation here. Susan and Louis would have to travel either to Singapore of Ho Chi Minh. So we said goodbye after travelling with them ever since Laos. Farewell Sue and Lou! Happy travels.

The other casualty that night was Raymond's wallet. Hotel and shop owners repeatedly warned us not to take our valuables out at night. Nha-trang's firm place on the tourist trail attracts an unsavoury mix. In the evening the main street is overtaken by thieves, ladies of the night and their agents. Raymond eventually got his wallet back, a girl ran up and handed it to him, minus the money - a semi-honest thief?

I do not want to be too negative about the place however. One of the highlights of a trip to the resort is a boat trip to the surrounding islands. Essentially they are a chance to snorkel, party and drink from a makeshift floating bar on a rubber ring. Ruth and I had already done something similar in Thailand so we opted for the nearby mineral springs.

The centre was far enough away to necessitate hiring a moped. The journey was not as quick as i originally predicted, mainly because this was a moped with gears, pedals and foot brakes rather than the simple contraption i drove on Ko Pha-Ngan. It was a slow journey hampered by my fear of turning corners, aversion to changing gears, and inability to work the indicator or horn. We made it though, wobbling all the way.

The Health Rehabilitation Centre is a well tended, landscaped complex set around a natural pond. Rising in levels around the a small lake are various levels of showers, hydrotherapy sprays, baths and small jacuzzis. There was a process we had to follow. First we showered in the naturally hot, sulfur smelling water of the springs for five minutes. afterwards we soaked in a thick, opaque mud, rubbing the greasy, gritty mixture into our skin and doing impressions of the 'swamp thing'. Finally we spent 30 minutes in a hot bath before sunbathing, feeling rejuvenated, relaxed and silky smooth.

We left the next day, just the four of us.

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Next stop:
Hoi An via sleeper bus.