Monday 13 April 2015
Arrived at Ho Chi Minh domestic airport a full 3 hours before my flight to Cam Ranh to be then transferred to Nha Trang. Such a tiny airport, I grabbed a small bowl of beef meatballs and noodle soup to tie me over as my flight wasn’t going to be until 7:20pm. It was relatively inexpensive at 55,000 VND (£1.98).
After slurping my way through my noodles, the heavens suddenly opened with a pinch of thunder for good measure. I would label the downpour as “chubby rain” as the whole airport rattled as it bounced off the roof.
Flight on time, there was barely enough time for the hostess trolley to make it half way up the plane aisle before my 40 minute flight was coming into land at Cam Ranh. No customs or passport control to deal with, the only checkpoint was when I collected my rucksack off the carousel and a lady stopped me to check the luggage stickers matched to me.
I’d arranged an airport pickup from the Sunrise Nha Trang Beach Hotel and Spa where I would be staying for 220,000 VND per person (£7.92). Taking the hassle out of negotiating with taxi drivers and not really having time for public transport, it was a nice gentle 40km drive to the hotel as I was given a cold towel and water. 5 star service all the way, I checked in and went straight back out to explore the beach area.
It was 10pm by the time I hit my first bar called Pool Pub since it conveniently had a pool right at the front. Opting for a beer tower filled with 3 litres of Tiger beer, it was a perfect spot to people watch as I nibbled on some fresh popcorn.
Before I knew it, 2 hours had passed by so it was time to crawl into bed…..
Tuesday 14 April 2015
Laundry day today. Travelling through so many countries and cities where the heat was constantly above 35C, I had quickly gone through my clean T-shirts, shirts and shorts. I decided against using the hotel laundry service on this occasion since it was going to cost £1.50 to wash one pair of my undercrackers. Instead, I opted to walk 20 minutes into more of the centre of Nha Trang and drop my washing off at a Laundrette/Beauty Salon/Hairdressers. At 30,000 VND per kg, it only cost me 135,000 VND (£4.86) to deal with 4.5kg of my clothes. The wind was quite blustery as I walked along the promenade which inspired me to reflect whether I had missed the UK and it’s culture and seasons. Don’t get me wrong as I love home, but I concluded that I’m happy where I’m currently at and the novelty of seeing new places, tasting new experiences and meeting new people is still, as ever, exciting.
Another 20 minutes walk back to the hotel, I was on the sun lounger trying to catch some rays, although I don’t think I really needed much more of a tan! It was very cloudy as the wind swept across the pool area.
Early afternoon came, so I decided that I would indulge in a little “afternoon tea” in the hotel lobby bar. Not really having much of a choice, I wore a pair of trousers for the first time 2 weeks which was quite a weird feeling and restrictive. I realised at that point I’d only ever worn shorts and either a t-shirt or short sleeve shirt for a solid 14 days. Today, I went all out and put on a long sleeve shirt too. Since it was quite windy, the temperature was very tolerable. Anyway, back to afternoon tea! For 130,000 VND (£4.68), I had a slice of Sachertorte and white coffee. It still amazes me how I can get a slice of Sachertorte anywhere in the world. I vote this as one of the best cakes and brings back many happy memories of Vienna and Venice.
Next activity was a walk along the beach with the intention of getting to the sailing club for a beer. Probably about 5 minutes into the walk, I was in the Altitude bar on the 28th floor of the Sheraton hotel sipping a Long Island Iced Tea during happy hour from 4pm to 6pm for 120,000 VND (£4.32) which is almost as expensive as my laundry bill today. I love a BOGOFF deal (Buy One Get One Free), especially if it includes one of my favourite cocktails. I’ve not seen an ‘old fashioned’ cocktail drink over here yet though, otherwise I’d be happy as a pig in muck!
After the sun had set in the background, it was time to move on along the beach to the sailing club. Only I was slightly distracted and had a little wander in and out of the night market half way to my intended destination. I think it was the bright lights that attracted me to this outside setup. The usual stalls of handbags, watches, t-shirts, rucksacks and knick knacks were on offer. I didn’t part with any money but I was happy to browse. 10 minutes is all it really took before it was definitely onto the sailing club.
I was expecting a little shack with a tiny bar, it turned out to be quite swanky, huge and decorated. I chose a seat right by the beach and watched the waves crash against the sand. A glass of Tiger beer and Saigon Green beer consumed, I also had a Asian sharing platter for starters and a Seafood platter for main. Of course it wasn’t all just for me but being right by the sea, I had to go for seafood right?
Both dishes were fresh and tasty and surprising filling even though I avoided the carbs in the bread roll and potato wedges! Feeling relaxed at that point, I walked back to the hotel along the beach…..
Wednesday 15 April 2015
For the past 48 hours, I had been wanting to get up to watch the sun rise from over the horizon by the beach here in Nha Trang. Yesterday morning, my alarm went off at 5:30am and I couldn’t physically get out of bed onto my balcony. Must have been something to do with the Tiger beer in the Pool Pub the evening before. This morning however, without even setting my alarm, I woke up at the same time of 5:30am. I figured that since I was up, I may as well have a peek at the sun rise. As I jumped onto my balcony, I was surprised to hear people whooping with either excitement or cold from being in the sea at that time of the morning and also people well into their tennis match to my right. I’d just managed to wipe the sleep from my eyes and yet there were people already up and dressed. Well, the tennis players were. I couldn’t verify whether the swimmers were though. Anyway, another thing ticked off my list as I watched the orangey/red sun rise from the water in the distance in Nha Trang for 30 minutes.
As I was wide awake at 6am, I thought I would be clever and pop down to the gym on the 1st floor and work out a bit. An hour later, I knew that for the next few days, the lactic acid would be building up and I would be all stiff from the first work out since my little ski accident in February in Bulgaria. I knew that having tired out my muscles, all I would have to do next is lie by the hotel pool and soak up some sunshine. After about 20 minutes though, I was bored and itching to play around, so I donned my diving goggles and snorkel and paddled around the circular pool for a couple of hours. I soon realised that my snorkel wasn’t really fit for any purpose as it kept leaking in water. I’d bought a decent pair of goggles to dive with but skimped on the snorkel. They soon ended up in the bin!
Eventually giving up on a little pool side action, I went to pick up my laundry that I had dropped off in town yesterday. A hour there and back, my clothes were smelling fresh and pressed which I was please with. Newly laundered clothes deposited in the room, I then walked back down along the beach, past the sailing club and into the Louisiane Brew House where, of course, they brew their own beers. I couldn’t quite decide which brew to have so I had a taster board of the four they had in stock. Malts from Australia, hops from New Zealand and the water purified locally from Nha Trang, my favourite was the Louisiane Pilsner. A classic Czech style lager, it was rather hoppy.
I settled for another pint (600ml in reality) of the pilsner and ordered some food whilst I was there. I had a sharing platter of Spring Rolls and prawns, followed by the clams. I made a note to myself not to order clams as a main course again. It was so fiddly and didn’t amount to much of a meal by the time I’d picked out the clam meat from each shell.
I decided to walk back to the hotel. By now, my feet were beginning to feel sore having walked over 5 miles in flip flops, which being from the UK, I’m not use to doing. It was still happy hour at the hotel Sky Lounge on the 10th floor, so I indulged in a couple of nightcap/cocktails whilst admiring the view from above.
Thursday 16 April 2015
As soon as the day started, I had already decided to take things slow and easy today. I could hardly bend my arms from the work out I did yesterday morning, so I took a bath before packing my ruck sack. I had arranged a transfer back to the airport through my hotel which made things a lot easier and stressless. My flight out of Nha Trang was expected to be 2pm and I was assured that leaving the hotel at noon left me with plenty of time, since they “do airport runs all the time, so don’t worry!”.
Saying goodbye to this lovely beach resort, I gazed out of the minibus window whilst admiring the scenery as we climbed the hill tops and drop offs with gorgeous views of the town and surrounding islands cut off by blue water. 40km later I made it to the airport and checked into my flight with Vietnam Airlines.
A relatively smooth check in and security process, I then waited for my flight. 2pm came and no sight of the plane. Half an hour it was delayed by, which wasn’t too bad to be honest but the communication could have been a bit better. The departure board said the plane had left at 2pm when it clearly hadn’t even arrived. I was slightly apprehensive as I got off the transfer bus to board the plane only to find a twin prop plane sitting on the tarmac waiting for me. The last time I was a passenger on one of these planes, I was travelling from Southampton to Jersey on business and I felt ever so queasy due to the turbulence and lack of horizon to focus on.
I thought to myself at that point that I was glad I didn’t have an alcoholic drink to make the flight less painful, as I moved onto my next destination……