Sunday, 19 August 2012

Nha Trang

5th-11th August 2012

Finally, it was time to visit a place in Vietnam that doesn't begin with an 'H'. When I said in my last post that the relaxation had to come to end, I lied, starting with the train to Nha Trang. There were no night time sleepers available so we ended up taking a daytime sleeper. A 10 hour train journey has never been so relaxing.

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Soft sleeper carriage on the way to Nha Trang
And when we arrived, there was nothing much else to do in but to continue relaxing. Our hotel gave us a room on the 4th floor – a bit of a pain since they had no lift, but all the better because it meant we had a view of the beach.

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Nha Trang beach
There were plenty of good restaurants and bars nearby. We had really good Indian food a couple of times in a place called Ganesh and loads of good Vietnamese food, including an even better version of the pomelo salad which came on a giant black-sesame-flavoured prawn cracker. Delicious!

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Pomelo salad
For the record, pomelo is a bit like grapefruit – just as juicy but less sour and more sweet.

We also discovered a new fruit – the soursop or custard apple. It looks a bit scary (the best ones to buy should have white spots and be covered in ants apparently) but they’re simple to peel and inside the flesh is pale and juicy with a sweet-sour taste. There are quite a few seeds but they’re fairly large and easy to spit out. They’re pretty good and if you see them, definitely worth trying.

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A custard apple, soon to be sued by the black thing on the left
Other than that, there’s not a great deal to do in Nha Trang. I tried to take another cookery course but was scuppered this time by late cancellations from the rest of the class. The beach was a two-minute walk away and really quiet until about 4.30pm when the Vietnamese arrive. Even then, most Spanish and French beaches I’ve seen are much busier. Unfortunately, the experience was slightly spoiled by the high volume of litter floating in the sea. Compared to the beach in Hoi An, it was pretty nasty. Nothing spoils a nice swim more than a plastic bag full of dirty tissues round your legs (other than a jellyfish I suppose – none of those in Nha Trang luckily.)

Aside from a couple of walks up and down the promenade, that was it. Across the bay lies Vinpearl island, home to the Vinpearl theme park. The only way to get there is via a giant cable-car and although I do love a giant cable-car ride, I resisted this time.

They say the devil makes work for idle hands so one slow afternoon I got fed up with my patchy beard and sculpted it into this follicular masterpiece.

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All I need now is a couple of tattoos (forehead and knuckles, I think) and the prison look will be complete.

Hopefully there’ll be more to report from Saigon (hint: there will be…) so watch out for my next post in the next couple of days.

Current location: Phnom Penh until 23rd August
Next stop: Siem Reap

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