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Published: April 10th 2009
Although long, the Reunification Express
daytime train trip between Hoi An and Nha Trang
was just beautiful, and the experience only got better as we approached Nha Trang...stunning mountains, shimmering white sand and sparkling sea... Andrew is in heaven! 😄
In some ways Nha Trang is a typical tourist town with leathery skinned westerners, and over-priced bars and restaurants serving more western than local food. I was not alone in finding the town a bit on the seedy side and not very appealing at all; however the beauty of the surrounding beaches and islands makes a trip here worthwhile. The group spent the best part of one day cruising the islands around Nha Trang, and I cannot express enough how much Andrew loved swimming and snorkelling in the sultry water of the South China Sea. Me? I stayed on board, soaked up some sun, watched swaying coconut trees in the distance while getting a massage, a pedicure and a manicure...finishing up just in time to tuck into a gorgeous seafood lunch on board. 😊
We docked on one of the islands in the afternoon for more swimming, massages and mango ice creams... and there was also a game of
England vs Australia beach volleyball to keep us entertained... we thrashed the poms!
Dinner that night was at Truc Linh 3
, a lovely seafood bbq place on the main street that did a scrumptious ‘tiger prawns in claypot’ dish. After dinner we went to the Sailing Club
for drinks and a few games of pool - well it turned out that there was a happy hour of ‘free cocktails’ for ladies that night; this single-handedly caused the demise of one or two girls and a few boys too! The walk back to the hotel was amusing to say the least and there were a few quiet faces the next morning. 😉
The next day Andrew and I went on a private motorbike tour of the city, suburbs, outskirts and a few monuments. The Long Son Pagoda was our first stop and as we approached the entrance to the temple, an old man with a ‘volunteer’ badge walked over and told us that the temple was closed and we would have to come back in an hour; however seeing my disappointed face he seemed to change his mind and gestured that we could go in if we were very
quiet and didn’t disturb the prayers. I thought this was lovely of him and gratefully started to follow him in when Andrew thought to ask if he would want payment for letting us in, he reluctantly said yes - I had nearly been had! So we politely declined his offer to ‘let us in’ into a free temple complex that was definitely not closed for prayers - the cheek! I have no problem donating money for the upkeep of buildings and grounds when entry is free, but this guy had nothing to do with the pagoda and was just shafting unsuspecting tourists. Thank god one of us had our ‘bullshit radar’ on, otherwise we would have had to deal with demands for money at the end of it all. With that drama averted, we absolutely loved the Long Son Pagoda with its reclining Buddha, big Buddha and the Buddhist cemetery grounds behind it. It was a beautiful and serene place and we would have spent more time here if not for the fact that it was insanely hot and Andrew was not feeling very well (I had given him the cough I caught on the overnight from Hanoi to Lao
We also explored the Po Nagar Cham Towers complex which consist of ancient Hindu temples from between the 7th and 12th Centuries; and then dropped into the Long Than Gallery. Long Than is a prominent Vietnamese photographer who only shoots in black and white and still uses film. I really liked a few of his shots and had gone with the intention of purchasing some of his work but for reasons I’m still not sure of, I decided against it. Hope I don't regret that decision...
Apart from the island hopping and the Long Son Pagoda, I was not really impressed with Nha Trang and I don’t think it would be a great place for single female travellers. By the end of the third day, we were all well and truly ready to leave and we were also really looking forward to Saigon...and so we re-boarded the Reunification Express
train that night for our final overnight journey.
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