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Published: November 18th 2012
Nha Trang wasn't originally a city we planned to stop in on our trip through Vietnam. However, after loving the beaches we had seen so far, we decided to add it to our itinerary.
We had taken another uncomfortable overnight bus from Hoi An which arrived at about 7:00am. Once again we were dropped off in the middle of the backpacker/hotel area. Adjusting to the bus pick up and drop off convenience in Vietnam has been really pleasant after China. Since it was so early, many hotels appeared closed and it took us a while to find a place to stay. When we had checked in to Mai Huy for a couple nights, we went to find some coffee. Right across the street from our hotel was a wonderful lady who served us large strong coffees (so often in Asia the coffees were tiny, not much more than espresso shots). We found some food and headed back to our hotel to rest. In the afternoon we had more energy so we went out to walk around and see Nha Trang. The beach was really beautiful but no An Bang (our favourite beach near Hoi An). It was nice to see
the palm trees that provide shade from the hot sun, the lounge chairs you could rent and of course the clear blue ocean waves. However it was overcast and windy so we continued our wandering. We had a nice quite evening since we were still pretty tired from out lack of sleep on the bus and called it a night fairly early.
The next morning we rented bicycles and set out to see a few of Nha Trang's sites. First up was the Po Nagar Cham Towers. They were built on a hill over looking the bay between the 7th
century. 4 towers remain (at least twice that many have crumbled or been destroyed by wars) surrounded by lush green vegetation. The architecture is superb and well preserved and the colours of the orange fired bricks set against the greens of the tropical trees was spectacular. There are 16 huge and crumbling columns that lead to the staircase that ascends the hill to the towers. In between the columns there were many nuns enjoying a spread of food and smiling and praying. There were also many Buddhist monks and nuns praying and leaving offerings at the various
shrines in and around the towers. It was certainly one of our favourite temples we have visited in Vietnam and the views of the harbour and the city were a real bonus.
Next we followed the coast to the Hon Chong Promontory about 2.5km north of central Nha Trang. It is a scenic group of huge granite boulders that juts out into the South China Sea. We clamoured out to the end - being mindful of the crashing waves - to where a huge 20ft high boulder is the crown. We sat there for a while admiring the beaches on either side of us and mountains in the distance while big waves crashed on the rocks not far away. When a big group of people came out to the end we headed back to our bikes and made our way home.
By the time we made it back to our hotel we were feeling like going out for some drinks. We played cards and had a couple of screwdrivers before heading out for dinner. Oddly enough we ended up at another bar called Why Not? for dinner. “Why Not?” bars seem to be everywhere in Vietnam and are
really evil... cheap food, cheap drinks, free drinks with a meal etc. Needless to say we were feeling pretty good after eating our delicious and cheap meal of spring rolls, garlic shrimp, vegetables and rice. Not quite ready to call it a night we crossed the street to another bar where the drinks continued to flow.
When we woke up the next morning it was pouring rain. It was absolutely okay since neither of us had any urge to go out and be productive. After sleeping half the day away we ordered room service pizza and it gave us a bit more energy. The rain continued on so we watched movies and napped most of the day. In the evening we finally thought we should go out for some real food and were shocked to find how much rain had fallen. We knew it was a serious storm but didn't expect the road and sidewalks to be completely flooded. There was half a meter of water outside our hotel so that certainly restricted the distance we could travel. We waded through the water and continuing rain to a nearby restaurant and were surprised to how it was just business
as usual for the locals. Not only were the restaurants and clothing stores still open for business, but the fruit stands and food stalls were still operating on the side walks half submerged in water! Not being able to do much, we ate and headed back to our hotel.
We woke up the next day to find that luckily the rain did not continue through the night and so the streets had a chance to drain, however the rain was already starting to pick up and within an hour the sidewalks were flooded once again. Knowing that it was the tail end of the rainy season and expecting the deluge to continue we headed to a convenience store to load up on food and beverages to see us through the day and night. We also booked our transport for the next day as 2ft of water wouldn't be stopping the tourist buses from running. By mid afternoon the rains had stopped and in another few hours the streets were again drained of water. Going a little stir crazy we headed out to walk around town to get some food and survey the aftermath of another day of flooding. The
food was great (as usual) and the city didn't seem to worse for ware since this is a weekly occurrence this time of year (although we were stilled concerned for some of the low-lying houses). With full bellies and legs stretched we headed back to the hotel a little disappointed we didn't get a chance to lay on the huge Nha Trang beach That being said, we were of course looking forward to our next destination: Dalat.
Dalat is a favourite destination for local Vietnamese; it is 4 hours away in the mountains of the central highlands. We were looking forward to the nice change of temperature. We had been experiencing 30+ and humid the last few weeks and Dalat generally has a cooler climate.
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