Nha Trang...in 8 hours
The bus for Hoi An leaves at 6 tonight, giving me about 8 hours to explore Nha Trang. The hotel reception gives me a map and points the way to the beach, about a 6 minutes walking.
The place is smart with plenty of development underway. Take a pinch of Benidorm, a handful of Blackpool and throw in a few bucket loads of Chinese and we have a Vietnamese beach resort in one of the most picturesque settings I've ever stumbled across. Bright blue sea, miles of golden sand and with a mountainous backdrop encompassing all sides of the bay. Mountainous islands populate the bay and beyond into the far distance, but the closest, called Vinpearl, has a cable car link which looks like a fun ride over the sea.
To the left, high rise blocks and the touristed part of the beach. To the right, towards the cable car, and it's quiet. A couple of cafes, deck chairs among the palms and some abandoned former restaurant premises it looks like. The promenade is shaded with palms and a cooling breeze makes this a pleasant walk. Very few people, mostly locals but hardly any tourists.
The cable car doesn't seem to be getting any closer, an optical illusion perhaps, but let's keep going anyway, see what's over the hill. A small concrete pier with some rather big boats moored along side, then about 50 little fishing boats all anchored, a colourful scene against the island backdrop. It's a little fishing hamlet, a development of concrete, and wooden structures on stilts extending slightly offshore. Beyond the hamlet, around the corner is the main port and a stack of Maersk containers. A host of tourist boats moored against the quayside with associated touts looking for a gullible tourist. A 1 hour boat ride around the bay is $20. Properties on the hillside, accessible by steep concrete steps into narrow alleyways makes for a scenic photo and a glimpse into a relatively tranquil pace of life.
The cable car place must be close since I can now here whirling motors and squeals as the cars launch. The terminal is in a smart, nicely manicured complex with gardens and a central statue. Vinpearl is the island destination for these cars, an exclusive resort by the looks of the posters and with prices to match. According to the information posted around an access all areas ticket is in the $53 mark. Just the car ride and back will be around $23. For $7 there is the option of being taken in a kayak, but extra charges apply at the island and for a kayak it looks quite a distance. The cable car ride would be a novelty, but the resort part doesn't appeal, so I'm passing this by since time is at a premium. I'm sure the good folks at Vinpearl can be Googled to find out what exactly they have to offer to justify the prices. It's taken about 2 hours getting here, stopping for a coffee (18,000 vnd) and looking around the fishing hamlet.
Time to head back find something to eat and prepare for the over night bus to Hoi An. The sun is setting, giving that golden glow to everything, and that means another set of photos to capture the scenic beauty this place has to offer. There could be more to see the other end of the beach, towards the extending concrete, commercialism and sunbathing tourists, that'll have to wait until next time! A plateful of steam rice, spicy vegetables and 3 pieces of chicken is dinner and at just 20,000 vnd ( $1 ), is good value. Generally eating here is cheaper than Saigon by far and portions are larger also! Overall, Nha Trang is good value for money in accommodation and food, I could easily spend a few weeks here. Time to join the other passengers at the ticket office and wait for the bus to roll in, just around the corner.