Despite how much I loved Saigon, I was more than ready to hit the beach in Nha Trang. After a 6 hour train ride and a short search for a room to call home for the next week, I found myself within blocks of the beach. Just because that couldn’t seemingly have been enough good luck on its own, I also happened to have found myself in this idealistic beach town during a festival and at the same time as a couple I befriended in Thailand. Vietnam sure was treating me well.
Since I had arrived late afternoon, I did my best to fit in a little beach time before heading out in search of somewhere to eat. In the 20+ minutes it took me to locate a restaurant, it became very apparent that I was not in the backpacking section of Nha Trang. I found myself walking through mostly empty streets praying for a meal to appear. Was buddha listening at all or should I have been addressing god?! At any rate, I eventually found a small restaurant on a side street near where I was staying and found a place to sit. I was the only person in there, which is never encouraging in and of itself, but I was too hungry to search a minute longer for a place to eat, so I was resigned to stay and enjoy whatever the evening was about to throw my way.
It just so happened that at this particular restaurant, the menus were only in Vietnamese (shocking right!?!), and that only 1 person at the restaurant understood English. Luckily for me I had already figured out how to discern meats and fish from one another, so I had a general idea what types of food I was looking at, but my small knowledge of Vietnamese couldn’t have prepared me for the 15 minutes of laughter, confusion and pointing that resulted in a meal eventually appearing on the table in front of me. It consisted of vegetables, chicken and rice, and was by far the best thing I had eaten, given the fact that I was starving by the time it arrived. Right before I left, the one lady who understood English came out to chat with me in the usual way concerning the usual things people ask you when you’re traveling. She was incredibly nice, and all smiles as we fought the language barrier to communicate. When the conversation hit a sudden and eventual end, I told her goodnight and thanked them all for the hospitality. I might not have ended up eating where most people do when visiting Nha Trang, but I’m never going to forget my first meal or the nice people who served me.
I woke up early and hit the beach. Despite the morning hour, the sand was already deadly hot under my flip-flops while the sun shone down with a relentless vigor. It was exactly what I was hoping to find… okay maybe not the incredibly hot sand, but I still had no reason to complain about life. By the time early afternoon rolled around, I was in need of some shade and hoping to meet up with my friends Becky and Dave. I headed back to my room for a little air conditioning and made a plan to meet them at a brewery named Louisiane, a little ways down the beach.
After an overpriced, yet delicious lunch and a pint of Louisiane’s summer brew, I enjoyed an afternoon of lounging under an umbrella while catching up with Becky and Dave. There really is nothing better than having a chance to see friends while traveling. By the time the sun had disappeared behind some clouds, we made plans to meet up by the “penis” building, which was about halfway between our hotels, so we could make our way over to a barbeque place they loved their first time in Nha Trang. Now i for n order to give any of you an advantage in case you plan on visiting Nha Trang, I asked my friend Becky for the name of the place we went to. It’s called Lac Canh, and it was by far the BEST barbeque I’ve ever had. We ordered copious amounts of chicken, beef, veggies and garlic rice and ate every bit of the food on the table. If the food wasn’t enough to make me love this place, then the chilled beers, great company and ridiculously cheap price certainly were.
By the time we were done eating we left feeling full and tipsy and topped the night off with a few more beers before saying goodnight.
After miraculously not waking up with a hangover (Thank You Siem Reap!), I did essentially the same thing this day as all the others. It’s exhausting to spend your days lounging on the beach, eating delicious food, and occasionally catching parts of the festival taking place around you. Speaking of which, I’ll use this break in adventures to share a few photos from the festival. The whole town looked like a cross between a classic summer festival and Christmas with lights hanging everywhere and Christmas tree shaped displays scattered around. I wish I would have carried my camera around with me to capture it better, but all I had was my camera so these fuzzy photos will have to do.
After a little brunch, Becky, Dave and I set out to find some of the many events taking place in Nha Trang that we wanted to see. It was an incredibly hot day and we walked a large stretch of beach with little success. I’m not sure where they were hiding all the volleyball games, sand castle contests, and various other events, but we never found them. Instead we took a stroll through the local mall, and spent some time browsing and goofing off in the air conditioning before heading to a restaurant with a great view of the beach to enjoy a few beers. All in all it had been a great afternoon.
This evening there was a large show the entire week was based around, so we bought a few beers each and headed down to where the massive crowd had formed around the stage. There was an insane amount of people in town to see this big spectacle. I talked to a man a few days later who told me that people from all over SE Asia and the world come to see the festivals Vietnam has to offer. We hadn’t eaten dinner yet, so we gave ourselves a time limit after waiting for a little over an hour for the show to begin. Once the time limit arrived, we fought our way out of the crowds and headed to our favorite barbeque joint and enjoyed another large dinner and a few beers. After we were done eating, we grabbed a cab back to the backpack area and found a hotel with a rooftop hotel to enjoy a drink in. It wasn’t the evening we set out to have, but it was still a pretty great night.
It didn’t turn out to be an overly exciting day, so I’ll spare you another boring read about loungers, beaches and food. The only thing worth mentioning is the moment I managed to trap a rather large cockroach in a cup in my bathroom. It would reside there until the following morning when the maid would come and remove it for me after a rather confusing conversation about what I needed her to do. Being a braver woman than I, she picked it up bare handed and threw it off the 4th story.
It would be my last day in Nha Trang so I spent my morning at the train station booking a train ticket for the next leg of my Vietnamese journey. The rest of the day, I spent a little time at the beach, and a lot of time in my room eating and repacking my bag. By this point in my trip I had accumulated a lot of stuff, mostly clothing, so it seemed to take twice as long to pack my bag. I had already said my goodbyes to Becky and Dave for the second time, and wished them well on the next section of their trip. It had come time to leave my little piece of heaven on earth, but I was definitely excited to see what else Vietnam had to offer.