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Nha Trang

August 17, 2012


Nha Trang is one of the larger beach resorts in Vietnam. It’s got the full range – from towering 5 star palaces to shady shitboxes. Guess which sort I patronized?

I’ll get back to complaining about my hotel in a minute. Shortly after I got into town, I sat down for dinner at a place called Why Not. I liked the atmosphere, the food, and the cheap drinks, so I planned to stay a bit. Unfortunately, this super douchey frat boy sat down at the next table with these two girls, and wouldn’t shut up for three seconds about how he loves “being positive” and “can’t stand negativity.” He also said he traveled through Laos in 4 days, and that he had never heard of Angkor Wat until he was visiting it. I considered stabbing him, but I decided to just leave for the sake of avoiding Vietnamese jails.

Nha Trang is a big party town, but in my few hours there, I’d already come across several other people that were nearly the same as the frat dude I described. These are not my people. I sat in my hotel room and had a couple beers, and considered not going out at all. Ultimately, I did, and it ended up being fun. It was an early night, but I met a couple British backpackers, which are more the kind of people I’m used to talking with on the road. The universe made sense again.

I got up early the next morning for Nha Trang’s main attraction – the booze cruise. Nha Trang has a ton of booze cruise boats that all do about the same itinerary, but for whatever reason the cruises all start at 8 or 9 in the morning. My cruise cost around seven dollars, which included a ride to the docks and back, lunch, free drinks during the 20-minute “happy hour,” and snorkel equipment rental.

I met a group of three people at my hotel who were taking the same boat, and immediately hit it off with them. The group consisted of a Frenchman, a Dutch chick, and a Canadian dude, and they had all been working in Kuala Lumpur.

The boat’s first stop was an aquarium, though I read online that the aquarium was pretty lame, plus it cost extra. I knew my new friends were cool when they, like me, opted to skip the aquarium and buy a beer on shore instead.

After a half hour or so on the aquarium island, we set sail for our next stop – snorkeling. We had to pay a 50 cent entry fee to the island where we snorkeled, and I also rented a locker for my stuff. The reef was quite nice when I swam out to it, although the snorkel equipment itself was the worst I’ve ever seen. The mask was just a big oval, like the kind they used in the 50s, and there was no way to affix the snorkel to the mask without inhaling water. I had to swim with one hand and hold up my snorkel with the other. Diving was available as well, but I didn’t bring enough money with me to pay for it. I’m glad I didn’t, because I saw the divers when I was snorkeling. They were maybe three meters deep, and the instructor held the diver on a leash sort of thing.

Next up was lunch on the boat, and they actually served a pretty good variety of food. We had fried noodles, steamed rice, spring rolls, squid, fish, veggies, and probably some other stuff.

After lunch came the entertainment portion, where the guys who worked on the boat put on a show and sang Vietnamese pop songs. Next, they pulled up some passengers to sing a song from their home country. As my group represented the only American, French, Dutch, and Canadian people on board, I was sure we would all get called up. I busted out the Vietnamese vodka that I’d smuggled on board and passed it around with my group.

First they pulled up an Aussie girl (named Matilda, no shit) to sing “Land Down Under.” Next came one of the Korean dudes to sing “Arirang.” Then three german dudes got called up, followed by my Canadian friend to sing “Summer of ’69.” One of the many Vietnamese passengers got called up too. I was sure I would be picked, but amazingly I escaped.

Next up came “happy hour,” which involved drinking an unidentifiable firewater at the “floating bar.” Everyone jumped into the water, and a guy in a big tube served drinks. It was a lot of fun, but like I said, only lasted about 20 minutes.

Our last stop was another beach, which cost a dollar to get into. We hung out on some chairs and talked sports.

After the ride back into town, I hung out with my group on the beach for a couple hours, until it started getting dark. Thy had a bus to catch that night, so I was on my own again.

I had a much lower key night than I thought I would. While at dinner, I decided to google my hotel, the Happy House Hotel, to see if other people agreed with my dislike of the pushy woman who ran reception. What I discovered was that a lot of people had been robbed at my hotel. Some people lost a little money, others a lot, but it was always cash, never items. When I got home, I looked through my cash supply. Sure enough, they had helped themselves to some. I generally only have an estimate of how much local currency I have on my at any given time, but I always know the exact amount of greenbacks I have. Thus, I’m 99.9% sure that they took cash out of my wallet. Ironically, I left my wallet at home to avoid losing it to Nha Trang’s notorious pickpockets. I didn’t go back out for fear of them stealing more.

On my last day in town, I had a bus leaving at 6:30 p.m. from my hotel, but I checked out noon. I didn’t want to leave my stuff at the Happy House during the day, but I also didn’t want to carry my big bag around at the beach all day. I decided to carry around my valuables and leave my clothes at the hotel, which would mean I could sit on the beach but couldn’t swim.

Fortunately, I ran into some other people who were on the boat trip and went to the beach with them. One of them was too hungover to leave the beach, so he watched everyone’s stuff while the rest of us swam and climbed these giant inflatable floating slides.

Maybe I just ended up on the right boat, but it seems there are plenty of cool travelers in Nha Trang, just like anywhere. It seems the people who run the Happy House Hotel are the only ones who deserve to be stabbed.

The lovely and eminently seaworthy booze cruise craft.

The cable car from the mainland to an island amusement park.

The aquarium that I didn’t visit on the cruise.

The snorkeling scene at the second island. By the way, once I’m in charge, one of my first acts will be to change the spelling of “snorkel” to “snorkle.” I always misspell it, since “snorkle” just seems more fun.

Setting up for lunch.

The boat crew band.

The boat crew band with their lead singer – Lady Boy. I’d gotten into the vodka by this point.

The floating bar scene. I don’t have a picture of the floating bar itself, because when it was out, I was out in the water drinking.

Random people on the boat – although the people sitting in the back ended up being the people I would hang out at the beach with the next afternoon.

Another look at the mainland beach.

These are the floating plastic things that we climbed on, although at the time the tide was higher so they were in deeper water.

My sleeping bus from Nha Trang to Hoi An. It was not comfortable, although at least I didn’t have to share a bed like I did in Laos. By the way, is there some sort of law that requires all backpacker girls to wear those silly Zubaz-style pants on all buses and trains? There were maybe 20 girls on my bus, and all but one or two were wearing them. I’ve since seen a few of the girls from my bus around town in Hoi An, and they had changed and were dressed normally, so it’s mainly just a bus thing.

I think I’d rather stay at this place than the Happy House.


From → Vietnam

  1. Jan permalink

    Looks like a great cruise (with awesome pix!) but it really sucks that your cash was stolen at your hotel. I guess the Happy House is only a happy place for the thieves. BTW, what are Vietnamese pop songs? And if they had called on you, what song would you have sung?

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