A different kind of travelogue. As an avid young traveller I often wondered what would it would be like when I got older, gathered commitments, created children and accrued debt. This is what it's like.
Nha Trang is a well established tourist destination on the south coast of Vietnam. It’s just not the sort of place we go. Maybe I am a snob.
It’s a bit of a Party town. There are night clubs and jet skis. There are amusement parks with trapped animals. There is gross wealth juxtaposed with significant poverty. Although in Vietnam the poverty is not as stark as it has seemed in other places I have been. Maybe its the communist regime, maybe its not.
I have never been anywhere that calls itself communist which is actually communist.
But then I have never been anywhere that calls itself a democracy which is actually a democracy.
I’ve been to 60 or so countries. Politics aside Nha Trang didn’t work for us.
It didn’t look too good from my research but these places often have quite a few entertaining things for kids to do
We had just spent a week in an area where we saw not one other westerner and the prospect of some familiar kid friendly activities seemed worth a look.
While we were there we didn’t see many other traveling kids. Hardly any at all. There were a few couples with babies, maybe half a dozen tourist families with kids around the 8-10 range.
We also didn’t see that stereotypical white western male fat old male with petite scantily clad locals. However, not one late night bar was visited, we were never out past 9pm and we didn’t go on any organised tours. I suspect we didn’t see the whole picture. We mostly saw Russian couples in their middle years soaking up the sun. The really soak it up too.
The tourist market here has historically been focused upon the Russian market for obvious reasons.
I’m no expert on Russian tourism or indeed Russia in general. I saw few Russian families traveling with children in and around the centre of town. The conspicuous kid attraction is “Vinpearl Land” with an amusement park. Its on a little island visible from all points on the beach not least because it has a huge Hollywood style sign in giant white letters up in the hill.
Vietnam can do Kitsch with aplomb.
I actually wanted to go out there just because of the cable car because it is the longest over sea cable car in the world (apparently) but Dominique was more than a little suspicious about the maintenance program.
Me; I was imagining disaster movie style scenarios where I save the family in some sort of “Die Hard”/”MacGyver” style heroics as we dangled from a thin fragment of a cable.
Do other people think about this sort of thing or is it just me? The fact that I was imagining this rather reinforced Dominiques instinctual disinterest. The clincher was that the kids didn’t want to go.
It was hot (38 degrees celsius), the pool in our hotel was dirty (wait for Aoifes Accommodation Review), the beach was inviting but there were of course a few plastic bags etc
It was still fun, it just wasn’t us. We had a few easy going poolside afternoons at the Louisiane Brewery pool right on the beach (pretty good facilities) which represents good value if you stretch out a few drinks. If you save a little money by choosing a hotel without pool or a bit back from the beach then bring the kids here for the oft necessary non-vietnamese food and pool.
On the last day we gave up on pretending we were a beach resort family and then we had a great time.
We checked out the modest Alexandre Yersin Museum which was fascinating for me and great fodder for some Road School chatter. This is the man that figured out the bug that caused the Plague. He did this with minimal equipment in a grass shack in Hong Kong. He remains a hero in Vietnam despite being a French Colonialist. Then, by chance, we found that the most ridiculous road in Nha Trang for that inimitable Vietnamese traffic was empty. We were ushered off it ourselves by a Vietnamese Police man. We didn’t expect a team bike race event with Tour De France style entourage in the heat but there they were. We went to the very impressive big Nam Market: No hassle & fantastic architecture, I would much sooner spend an afternoon here than the celebrated Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City. Then we visited the Cham Temples. Over 1000 years old and still a religious focal point. It was ridiculously beautiful at sunset.
So in one day we did have a positive Nha Trang experience; history, sporting, cultural and religious. Nha Trang has bigger soul than the main drag suggests
At one point I saw a golden buddha right on the beach but on closer inspection it was another happy and very sun burned Russian.