Beaches, bars and love notes in Nha Trang

Our bus to Nha Trang surprised us by leaving on time this morning, so that we arrived in time to spend a few hours of the afternoon on the beach. Not only is the T.M Brothers main office here, but there is also an attached hotel which the company own. I swear they’re getting far too big for their boots, and for this reason we were reluctant to check into one of the hotel’s rooms despite it being the cheapest in Nha Trang and there being free internet thrown in with the bargain. Unfortunately, due to requiring the majority of our available cash to celebrate Pill’s birthday in a couple of days, we swallowed our pride and chose a very large $5 room – with air con no less!

The beach at Nha Trang is a lot more pleasent than I expected : yes it’s busy (especially after 4pm when all the Vietnamese finish work and jump in the sea fully clothed) and full of touts distributing flyers for various bars and restaurants, but it’s surrounded by the mountains of the central highlands and the sea is both clean and crystal clear blue.

When we wandered back from the beach a few hours later we stopped for a fruit shake at a local street cafe where Gilad (the Israeli guy I met on Victory beach in Sihanoukville) was also doing the same with a few of his travelling companions. I’m used to bumping into people i’ve previously met travelling but what was stranger was the fact that Pill also knew him. She’d met him on Ochheuteal beach a couple of days beforehand, so Pill had been on the same stretch of beach as I had been at exactly the same time!

In the evening we ate at Duy Phuoc, a tiny local eatery where the people inside were transfixed to the television, cheering and shouting in excitable Vietnamese. The set was showing none other than a Vietnamese version of Who Wants To Be a Millionnaire! Due to their good choice of quality tunes and cheap Saigon beer, we decided to stop for a drink and a few games of pool at the Red Sun Bar after finishing our meal. We were the only customers in the establishment all evening but we had a really chilled out night, mixed with the locals and learnt the numbers from one to ten in Vietnamese :

  1. Mo
  2. Hai
  3. Bar
  4. Bo
  5. Nam
  6. Sow (as in pig)
  7. Bye
  8. Dam
  9. Gin
  10. Boi

We started playing pool with a couple of Vietnamese girls who worked behind the bar, one of whom fancied herself as a bit of a hustler. Her two friends joined us shortly afterwards, a couple of Vietnamese guys, one of whom was called Tung but the other one’s name escapes me. We played a couple of games with the two of them and joined them for drinks and peanuts afterwards. All was going so well until Tung leaned over and passed me a note which read “I Love you”. At that Harp moment, it was time for a sharp exit . . .

Pill went scuba diving the following morning but unfortunately due to the stinking cold I’d caught (probably from the freezing – in comparison to here – highlands of Dalat) I was unable to join her. I consoled myself with the fact that – as there was no need to be able to breathe through your nose whilst doing so – I’d be able to go snorkelling on the boat trip we’d booked for Pill’s birthday tomorrow. Even so, I love the sensation of being at one with the ocean, a sensation which is not fully realised when you only have your face in the water.

The afternoon was spent on the beach again, one hand holding a tissue and the other hand turning the final pages of ‘When Heaven and Earth Changed Places’. We ate at Nha Trang Quoc in the evening, before heading to the Red Apple Bar to begin our warm up drinking session in preparation for tomorrow’s celebrations. Due to having blocked sinuses and a banging pressure headache behind my eyes, a heavy drinking session was not really what the doctor ordered. However, as you guys back home know, being ill does not stop me enjoying a beer or two – or three . . .

Aside from the fact that there were Vietnamese people working behind the bar, when we walked into Guava, we could have been walking into any bar in the UK. We met up with Sam and Laura, a couple of girls Pill had been scuba diving with, and the four of us continued on to The Sailing Club (an upmarket bar come club that’s right on the beach)and the Why Not Bar. By about 1am I was feeling so full of cold allI wanted to do was go to bed. I was also a little disappointed that Nha Trang was so un-Vietnamese, and resigned myself to the fact that my time here was going to be spent either on the beach or in one of Nha Trang’s numerous bars, so I planned to make the most of that time and enjoy myself with the friends I was accumulating here. Hoi An would be full of culture ; Nha Trang is just a beach resort that happens to be in Vietnam.

Photo is of a lone ship floating on the sea in the afternoon sun, South China sea, Nha Trang

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