Friday, June 10, 2011

Day 19 - Nha Trang Beaches

Arrived in Nha Trang at 7am in the morning and once again, was bombarded with "xe om" (motorbike) drivers trying to drive me to a hotel. Luckily, I already booked a hotel through orbitz, which ended up being more expensive than if I were to walk in and ask for a room...but I guess you pay for the assurance of knowing you have an address to head to and a room to sleep in when you arrive in the city.

The room wouldn't be ready until 10am, so I left my backpack at the hotel lobby and walked around the city looking for a spot for breakfast. All I could think about during these next three hours was SHOWER SHOWER SHOWER.

Nha Trang, host of the 2008 Miss Universe Pageant (where Lady Gaga performed before making it big), is Vietnam's primary beach resort for both tourists and locals. The main tourist area houses many hotels within 2-3 blocks of the beach. The waters are clean and clear, unlike the polluted waters of HCMC. Numerous travel agencies advertise scuba adventures, which I hear are great in this city. There are also boat tours around some of the adjacent islands, a huge waterpark on an island of its own, hot springs, museums, "booze cruises", and other sights to see.

Like any first day in a new city, I headed straight (after showering, flossing, brushing my teeth, scrubbing my face, washing my clothes, etc.) to the travel agencies to see what my options were. My friend who's hometown is in Nha Trang suggested that I go on a scuba diving adventure, but I don't think I have the courage to do it when I can't swim very well. It was also a little pricey... He also suggested I take a boat island tour, which I decided on doing tomorrow since I heard good things about it and it was only $5. He was to arrive in the city in two days and would show me around some of the other sights in the city, including the huge waterpark and the hot springs.

After booking the boat tour for tomorrow, I headed to the beach to check everything out. The beaches were very clean and the weather was cooler and windier than in all the other parts of Vietnam I've been to. The currents weren't very strong, and it dawned on me that there really doesn't seem to be a surfing culture in Vietnam, probably due to the scarcity of huge waves to ride.

The beaches were full of life as the city was preparing for a huge Beach Festival that only occurs every 2 years. I was lucky enough to arrive for this occasion. I've always wanted to see some of the special holidays or festivals in each country, but it's been tough figuring it all out and scheduling it correctly. The only other festival I am aware of is the Full Moon Party, which occurs in Thailand every full moon. It's a huge party that thousands of people participate in, especially foreigners who are touring all the backpacker party spots in S.E. Asia. I did happen to be in Vietnam for the Half Year holiday, which occurs half a year after Tet, or Vietnamese New Year. I was in Phu Quoc at the time, but I asked my friend if he celebrated, and he said he didn't and that the holiday was more celebrated by the older people in Vietnam.

After exploring the beach and having dinner, I headed back to the hotel, and just lounged around since it had been a while since I had my own room, with A/C, and hot water. I wanted to take advantage of all these luxuries before I have to live cheap and dirty again.

Nha Trang - Municipal Beach

Saw a sports match being played that I was unfamiliar with. It was almost like volleyball, except the courts were smaller, and the players used their feet instead of their hands. They played with thick socks, and a player could hit the ball twice in a row.

Splurging a little for lunch - Bo Luc Lac (Shaking Beef)

Nearing sunset on the beach, although the beach was located on the east coast of Vietnam.

The streets were closed off so that the kids could rehearse for the Beach Festival

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