For the first leg of the trip to Vietnam in February, Benny and I decided we wanted to head to the beach before exploring the city so we headed to Nha Trang via Ho Chi Minh and let me tell you, I have never had a more stressful connecting flight. As we checked in for our first flight to Ho Chi Minh from Bangkok, the counter assistant informed us that they would not be able to transfer our baggage directly to Nha Trang. Instead, we would, upon arrival, have to pick up our luggage, leave the arrival hall and walk to the departure hall and check in all over again to catch our next flight, with a mere 90 mins in-between. Normally, I would’ve been easy but knowing that we had applied for VOA’S (Visas on Arrival) which were subject to inspection and approval after handing over an official letter from the Embassy which was applied for weeks in advance, I had a bad feeling in my stomach since the moment we took off , which ofcourse, was not on time. Upon arrival, I was ready to pounce like a tiger, till I realised our plane had not directly parked at the terminal. So, we had to catch a bus. After being dropped off at the terminal, we rushed to the office which was responsible for handing us our visas; There were atleast another 50 people waiting, and a bunch of tourists loudly trying to communicate with the officer who on his part, was choosing to ignore their flailing arms and wads of cash. When I did manage to fight my way through, I, half panicked, tried to explain the situation that our flight was due to depart in 50 minutes. While the other officers stood in the background chatting and checking their phones, he cooly told me to take a seat and that it’d be fine. With 35 mins left, our names were finally called. Not only did Benny and I have to jump the immigration queue whilst I was apologising like a crazy person, our luggage had not even arrived at the carousel. How we managed to make that plane is still questionable.
Anyway, we’re here to talk about my impressions of Nha Trang. We stayed at the Alana Nha Trang Beach Hotel, which was (suprisingly) next to a….beach. The first thing that I noticed on the drive from the airport was the vasts amount of ongoing construction of mostly hotels and resorts. Any space that wasn’t occupied looked pretty desolate. Despite the 45 minute drive to where all the action was at, Nha Trang seemed really small. One thing you’ll also notice when visiting are the Russians. I’m assuming Nha Trang is their “go to ” place because there were definitely more Russians than locals . In addition, pretty much everything was written in russian, as well at the menus and the staff were more likely to speak russian than english , which I found amusing. This was only somewhat disappointing in the sense that we didn’t feel like we were experiencing much of the ‘local culture’ and that everything was geared towards tourists. It was only when taking a late night walk towards the “inner city” where the tourists began to disappear and you began to see actual homes and locals riding on their mopeds. Speaking of mopeds, the traffic was crazy. Not only did I really notice the absence of traffic lights and pedestrian crossings, no one actually stopped for you when trying to cross the road unless you were literally in their face. You know that scene in Mulan where the old lady claims to have a “lucky cricket” which will protect her? So to prove her point, she crosses the road blindfolded? Thats basically how you felt, because if you gave a driver eye contact or hesitated in the middle of the road, well, it might not have been pretty.
Though I personally didn’t feel that Nha Trang was the type of place where you had a checklist of a million things to do, I did enjoy lounging on the beach, and visiting the mudbaths at I-resort. If you’re planning on taking a trip there, I would recommend that you go early to avoid the large numbers of people arriving at noon. The street food was also pretty great. Writing this post is making me crave a Banh Mi. What I loved was that each stand had their own unique way of making the sandwich. My favourite one had slabs of butter, pork belly, vegetables and a ridiculous amount of chilli. Hurts so bad, but tastes so good. Seeing as I feel like I have said everything there is to say about my stay, I’ll let some pictures do the rest of the talking!
– A Pearl of the Orient.