Russians, Russians and more Russians! NHA Trang in a nutshell

When we arrived in Nha Trang, as Alex mentioned it was 6 am. However, the sun was shining and we knew we had a short (less than 15 minute) walk ahead of us to our hostel. First impression of Nha Trang, cautious optimism. I have always enjoyed seeing a city at the early hours in the morning, as it tends to feel entirely different to the rest of the day, the quiet is always the first thing you notice (especially in a big city). The main advantage of the morning is the light as well, the morning sun means you aren’t too hot and you get a quick explore as you walk, I enjoyed our little walk.

We arrived at Mojzo dorm and knocked on the door. We could see (the door was large and made of glass) a member of staff who let us in and showed us into the building. He escorted us to the back of the foyer, which both doubled as a bag storage but most importantly for us they had beds for us to use until check in. This is a fantastic idea and Alex and I couldn’t have been more grateful. The bed itself was a triple bunk bed of massage beds (they even had a removable hole for your head when laying face down) however they are perfect when you just need to pass out. They kindly gave us water and a face wipe (not that uncommon in SEA) and we fell asleep.

Our hostel for a few days

Hostel lobby

After a few hours of power sleep we woke up to a few more people having joined us in the morning, they had 6 beds for free and a few sofas in the foyer so quite a few people managed to get some shut eye. Alex and I were given the chance to check in early into our dorm, which meant we could leave our bags and go for a walk so this is what we did. We walked to the beach, which is your typical white sand blue water beach. The sun became more and more intense so we started to slowly head back to the hostel, searching for some food along the way. The women behind the desk at Mojzo had told us about a nice coffee place, however, Alex and I  couldn’t find it so we jumped into the first restaurant that looked ok as we both started to get hungrier and hungrier. We both had the same thing which was a dish called Bó Né, which is a Vietnamese steak and egg dish, often had at breakfast. My kind of food I might mention! The restaurant was a little busy and we both felt sorry for the staff as they had some extremely rude Chinese customers in. This was a trend we noticed quite a bit in Na Trang. The other main takeaway from the restaurant was the language that the menu came in, English was the fourth option, after Russian, Chinese and Vietnamese.

 

 

We had read that Nha Trang is populated by mostly Russian tourists, however, we hadn’t realised to what extent. Anywhere near the beach front, every single restaurant and shop were catering to Russian tourists and tastes. The shops had Russian style clothes (This is assumed as every single Russian appeared to buy all their stuff from these shops), it went as far as the normal “cat-calling” for a business that we encountered all over SEA was often in Russian whilst in NHA Trang, which left them with very blank stares from Alex and me.

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Fantastic Beach
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Endless people trying to sell you a spot in the shade

We returned to the Dorm and relaxed for a bit before we headed to the Longson Pagoda which Maps.Me said was about 35 minutes away. The route which we took was far from direct, being guided amongst local houses and along disused train tracks. We passed the Xiom market along the way and ended up at the pagoda in time to see some monks chanting (or leading a chant for regular people). Atop the Pagoda was an extremely large white buddha (more impressive than the one from Pai). We started to head back (as we wanted to make it back to our hostel before their free beer hour (more on that later).

Along the way, we stopped at Maxi Mark, which was a small multilayer shopping centre which had a small cinema at the top, after looking at prices and realising that we could go see a film for about £2 each we knew that another day we would come back. We left mostly empty-handed (a drink each due to the heat) and headed to our hostel. We arrived just in time for the free drink hour on the rooftop bar, which was free draft beer that was self-serve. They had a member of staff so that the rules weren’t abused.

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The View from the rooftop of our hostel, Sea in sight.

The beers were flowing and Alex and I started to chat to a trio of English girls until more and more people joined us. On a side note, one point of travelling that people don’t tend to glamourize is the conversations that you have with your fellow travellers.They all start the same and normally it takes about at least 30 minutes before you deviate from the normal questions. When? (when did you start travelling, when do you go back, when did you get here?) Where? ( where have you been, where have you planned to go?) How ( how did you get here, how did you find “insert thing/place here”?).

This isn’t me complaining, however after 3 months of this line of questioning the answers people give can normally be put into one of a few different camps.

The Young short term explorers- these are your typical backpackers, who love to drink and spend a couple of months (three at most) travelling SEA with friends before or just after Uni.

The Working Extended leave- These people often have worked for a few years and quit and now find themselves travelling for anywhere between 6-18 months. it should be noted this is the Camp that we are in.

The Long-term workers- This is the group of people whom I am most envious of (in some ways ), they have managed to find ways to pay for travel and extend their worldly expeditions. Lucky Buggers :P.

Anyway slightly off topic but… yeah.

After a few beers and getting to know the people around us, half of the group are kicked out ( not physically) off the roof top as they serve a “family dinner” up there and we hadn’t signed up to it. As a group all wanted food we headed out to get some Banh Mi and for a trip around the market.

The next day Alex and I had planned to visit the amusement park a short bus ride (and cable car) away called Vinpearl Land. The day was pretty fun overall, the park itself was a little lacklustre, with small rollercoasters and the like but we enjoyed it. The highlight and main reason for our visit was the waterpark. The rides were fun and offered enough entertainment for about 3 hours of wet and wild fun (unfortunately we weren’t allowed to film in there with the go pro). After we headed to the aquarium on site and cooled down as we looked at the fish.  We headed to the entrance for cheap food (Lotteria) which is typical fast food burgers and the like.  We played on the parks free arcade games ( however many were so broken that wasn’t the most enjoyable ) and we saw a 4D short movie (Meh). We ended the day with a ride on the Alpine coaster, which offered great views and a good amount of speed ( which I was in control due to rider controlling the brake) however the line was longer than both Alex and I felt was worth it.  As we walked towards the exit (to return to the cable car which we arrived on) we had one last go on the first rollercoaster we started the day on, a short enjoyable ride.

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We got back from the park and missed free beer evening, so headed to go grab some dinner. We found a cheap place practically over the road for food and we both tried two new items that ended up being some of our favourite meals of Vietnam. Bún thịt nướng and Nem Nuong, both noodle dishes with either pork or BBQ sausage, both delicious.

The following day Alex and I made good on our idea to go to the cinema and went to watch Logan, which was a great film (even if the Vietnamese edit was edited for the more extreme gore especially anything dealing with the head or brain). We also made it to ‘free beer’ hour and headed out for more noodles.

Whilst in Nha Trang, we Also took the bus (#4) to visit the Po Nagar towers, which is a remaining Cham temple. A nice temple and interesting to see the Cham culture, however, was very crowded and left us both with a feeling of ” yeah that was alright”.

 

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Po Naga Cham Towers
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Old cham towers
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Some interesting poses from tourists

 

The remaining time we used to relax, watch movies on the laptop, drink free tea and eat free biscuits (as well as free beer again), We visited the beach early one more morning, before the Russians decided to go and before it got too hot. Overall the experience in Nha Trang was pleasant, mostly made in part of the people at our hostel and the things we did. The Russian influence on Nha Trang made it feel like a warm little Russia. Next a trip to Da Lat.

Dave

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