off we go! travel blog

Shrine inside the Pagoda

Pagoda guard?

Nha Trang beach

NhaTrang beach and feet,

Nha Trang beach, looking North

Nha Trang beach, with hotels

So, yesterday Ruth found some lacquer artwork we liked, but we(!) wanted two, so we had to return today as the owner said he would find more. They required posting home so I was escorted to the Post Office parcels office by one of the shop assistants who absolutely hyper! She organised the construction of the packaging, weighing , paying and posting like a whirlwind. It was breath-taking to watch. Whilst I spent an hour at the post office watching someone construct the shipping box, Ruth went off for a manicure, tough life ain't it? Anyway, we then wandered off to a pagoda in the Chinese district which was a bit odd - they had many turtles in tanks , piled on top of each other and people were invited to buy one and add it to the pool, for good luck. Pretty horrendous really. The pagoda itself had been built by the Chinese community back in 1900, it had several shrines and ferocious looking statues and was full of smoke from the incense sticks.

That evening we were due to catch the first class overnight train to Nha Trang, but I misread the train time and we neatly missed it by five minutes. Not a complete disaster, as there was a later train but it was very nearly divorce courts! - we had booked a luxury train but now had to resort to steerage! All part of the adventure, but not everyone saw it as that.

We eventually arrived in Nha Trang at the crack of dawn, got a taxi which drove us along the seafront where we saw hundreds of Vietnamese carrying out their morning exercise in large groups and all in perfect unison. We made it to our hotel who very kindly allowed us into our room where we crashed. Some breakfast and off to the beautiful beach and at lunchtime we tried our first Pho Bo - a sort of beef and noodle soup, but delicious, especially eating on it the beach.

It was good to escape from HCMC, the traffic, the noise, the very persistent hawkers, and the heat and humidity. Nha Trang was like a breath of fresh air, lovely beach and clean air off the sea; still some hawkers but not nearly as persistent or as numerous.

However, Nha Trang has been taken over by the Russians. Virtually all the bars, restaurants and shops have big notices in Russian, some places even have Russian names. We discovered it is a very popular package holiday destination, with direct flights from several Russian cities; and yes, they were all over the place. The town is on a huge hotel building boom, just about every street near or overlooking the beach has a hotel or one under construction. There are some huge edifices and it is slowly destroying the charm of a small beach resort, it is in danger of becoming a Vietnamese Benidorm, but I guess some would see it as progress.

Both a little sunburned from a day on the beach we tried to escape from Russian influenced restaurants but it was too difficult. We did however enjoy a good meal (in a restaurant called Ciao Vietnam!) and then early to bed.

The next day we were awoken by noise from the building site next door, so after another good breakfast trundled off to the beach again. This time we walked a little further south and found deserted beaches, clearly the Russians do not walk too far for the beach. It was delightful but after a swim we walked back; there was no shade at all on this beach. Lunch was another Pho Bo, we've kind of taken to the dish now, back to the hotel, shower then siesta.

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