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Published: March 4th 2014
Finding a menu in English was sometimes difficult
The bottle-nosed Russian on my right started pulling on my arm, seeking my undivided attention.
We're sitting in a Vietnamese sports bar on a Sunday night watching the Olympic 4-man bobsled finals because there isn't anything else to do in Nha Trang at night, especially for a dry drunk like myself. The girls are cooling their mitts with bottles of Tiger beer. So we're watching the winter Olympics from a balmy tropical shore and the fully-occupied bar stools are groaning with Russian bottoms and this guy sitting at my right starts pulling on my arm so that he can give me, in slurred Russian, what his observations are with regard to the technical merits of the run we have just watched. Russians are very touchy, feely people. They have no concept of body space. This goes on for an hour until the Russians win the gold medal and with that he stands up, punches me in the arm and begins pelvis thrusting his bar stool. But the beach here is phenomenal. Nice cushy loungers and umbrellas. Just like Thailand. At least we have that.
We're in Nha Trang just north of Cam Rahn Bay where the huge US Naval
Sunrise Over Vinpearl
Vinpearl is a resort island that you can reach by cable car. This photo was taken at 6 AM
port facility was located. The Russians took it over after we pulled out until Mother Russia mothballed their fleet and now Vietnam is trying to get the US to use it as a Navy base again. You can't make this stuff up.
More Russians here than you can shake a Kalashnikov at. Restaurant menus and outdoor signs are written in Cyrillic. Five years ago Nha Trang was populated by heavily intoxicated North Americans and Europeans but today Russians have taken over the entire town. Construction cranes soar over the seashore like storks hovering over luxury hotel building sites. Smaller hotels are being razed so that 20-story glass-walled behemoth resorts can take their place. The town looks like Miami in the 1960's. The beach here is absolutely stunning. A beautiful crescent of sand. In the distance, picture perfect islands fill the horizon. Trains from Saigon and Hanoi keep the place primed with foreign dollars. The US Army airfield at Cam Rahn has been converted into an international airport with multiple daily flights coming from and going to Russia. The Russians spend their entire vacations in this one town and rarely venture outside the city limits. Stores that specialize in cold-weather
KJ and Karlie
The K's enjoy the terrace bar at the Ha Van Hotel
gear do a brisk trade as Russians, who are getting ready to head back home, stock up on parkas and boots.
Karen and I spent a few days here in 2008 http://www.travelblog.org/Asia/Vietnam/South-Central-Coast/Khanh-Hoa/Nha-Trang/blog-356774.html
and swore we'd never come back but we had Karlie traveling with us and kids being kids we decided to show her the place for its magnificent beach if for nothing else. Karlie did an internship in Moscow last year so we were lucky to have her with us to translate the assorted gibberish we heard from the local tourists. We stayed at the Ha Van Hotel just a block from the beach. There is a real crime problem in Nha Trang. Purse snatchings and hotel burglaries for the most part. Keep your valuables with you. People sunbathing on the public beach are often surprised to find that their beach bags have disappeared while they were napping. We solved this by using the facilities at the 'Sailing Club'. A pair of cushioned lounges under an umbrella will cost you $3.50 for the day. They also have security guards patrolling the perimeter to keep any reprobates away. Nha Trang is the only place in Vietnam that we have
Mike in Noah's Cheap Sunglasses
That mountain ridge behind me is the Annanite Range which extends westward to Laos. During the war it was a major part of the Hochiminh Trail
encountered this sort of issue.
Good eats are hard to come by. Most of the top-rated restaurants listed on TripAdvisor serve little more than pedestrian quality Western food. During the early afternoon there are scores of food carts dishing out very good and reasonably priced Vietnamese food but by sundown they are gone and your menu choices will be reduced to things like pastas, pizzas and hamburgers. What Vietnamese food there is available in the restaurants is usually poorly prepared and overpriced.
For some reason the money changers in Nha Trang are paying below the official exchange rates so if you need Dong your best bet is to use an ATM. Vietcom Bank machines are the best as they charge the lowest ATM fees. $1 US per withdrawal. Be advised that the most money you can pull from an ATM is 2,000,000 Dong or just under $100 US per day. Credit card users will be charged a 'convenience fee' of two to three percent. Ouch!
Our days were spent laying on the beach and reading. I was averaging 300 pages per day. Our biggest decisions always involved where we were going to go to eat. We decided
The K's at Chopsticks
Chopsticks is an Asian food restaurant chain which should be avoided at all costs.
that Nha Trang is a place best served by eating pizza and so we did. We found a place called Fernando's and settled for that. Good sized and inoffensive pies that had a great crust if nothing else. Pizzas ran from $4 to $6 each and two of them served 3 people well. The Vietnamese restaurants we tried were less than satisfactory. After 5 days we had had enough and decided to push northward by train to Quy Nhon which just happens to be my favorite Vietnamese city. Be still my beating heart!
Shouts to John and Kelly. Hope the house is treating you well. Dina we miss you here but the other one.... Not so much. Karen A.: Tell your ponies that I'm keeping an equine transgression list and they will be dealt with most severely on my return. Noah: Hang tough and enjoy that leave. You may be learning some Russian soon too. And folks don't forget that specific info and pictures on the places we have visited here can be found at: http://www.tripadvisor.com/members-reviews/N0ahsdad
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