Monday, 26 November 2012

Days 23 and 24: Nha Trang (China Beach)

Days 23 and 24: Nha Trang (China Beach)
who needs a minivan

After running all over Asia taking in every single sight that we could, we have come to paradise to……do absolutely nothing! We decided to spoil ourselves and booked three nights in the Sheraton, complete with the executive package, which gives us access to the club lounge on the 28th floor, with a 360 degree view of the bay and all the snacks, tea, coffee and soda that we can drink. Everything about this hotel is perfect, including the soft bed and pillows.  Every other Asian bed that we have slept on consists of a stone slab, softened only by its color, and a slender dash of mattress.  It really isn’t any wonder that the locals work so hard.  It is a relief to get up and out the door after a night on one of those vengeful things. 
motorcycle moving
This is one of the most beautiful beaches that we have ever seen. The water is warm, and the beach just goes on forever! It is easy to see why the American soldiers who fought the Vietnam War came here on furlough.
We have met up with a delightful American couple; Sue, who works as a teacher in an international school in Hanoi. She has taught all over the world, and has some great stories to tell. Her partner Dan, is a retired lawyer and an avid photographer. We enjoyed having breakfast with them a couple of times and swapping stories. It was especially nice to have a conversation with someone who can get past “Hello, how are you?” in broken English.
view from our room
The locals offer lots of entertainment, whether cooking lobster on the sidewalk or sleeping in their pedicabs. The pedicab drivers, or touts as they’re called, are very aggressive, and every time that we go out, they follow us trying to harass us into taking a ride. The taxi drivers are just as bad, tooting their horns and even pulling over to the curb to slowly follow us as we walk along the street. While it is not nearly as busy as Ho Chi Minh City, there is a lot of construction in town, and most of the sidewalks have been dug up, requiring us to walk in the street. There are several high rise hotels being built, which indicates that this is a thriving tourist destination. It is especially popular for Australians, as it is only a few hours to fly here.
It is amazing to see what people are able to carry on their motorcycles, from construction materials to a family of four. We were discussing the danger of this with a local, and he said, “What are we supposed to do, this is all we can afford for transportation.” He has two little children, and he said that the hardest thing is when he and his wife and the two children have to drive for three hours to visit his parents in the village.
beach bum
We lay around the pool for an hour, but we could feel ourselves becoming overcooked in the broiling tropical sun, so we decided to stroll down the way to the grocery store. We were astounded when we came out to see that the skies had opened up to a torrential downpour. “Don’t worry,” I said to Bryce, “this will blow over and the sun will come back out.” How wrong I was! Instead of clearing up, it continued to get windier and the rain went from a downpour to one of the worst storms that we have ever seen. The club room on the 28th floor offered an exceptionally great vantage point from which to watch the wind whipping the palm fronds around like overcooked noodles.  The rain finally abated around supper time, so we thought that we would go check out one of the local restaurants, but by the time that we got from our room to the street, the torrents had started up again, so we ended up enjoying our dinner at the covered patio restaurant at our hotel.
We were pleasantly surprised to wake up to a clear blue sky this morning. We went and lay on the beach for a while, and once again, the sun drove us back indoors. Later on, we went back to the pool, got smart and snoozed under the beach umbrella! We hit the night market to pick up a few last minute things, and returned to our hotel to get ready for our 26 hour train ride to Hanoi tomorrow.  Gee, I bet train beds are, well, we will see. We have what they call a soft sleeper, hmmm, I wonder what the Asian definition of “soft” is?

Picture perfect pool!

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