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Rooms & Rates
Nha Trang and surrounding
A Small Introduction to Nha Trang.
My first visit to VN dates back to 1989, when the country opened up to the world after a period of recovery from human and natural disaster inflicted on it. Many things have changed since. VN is on the way to become a modern developed country; as an active member of ASEAN (union of Southeast Asian Countries) it has become a major destination for foreigners (both tourists and business related travelers). Would the Hung Kings' (the founding fathers of VN) legend that the Vietnamese are descendants of the dragon and fairies be true? Magical forces are at work in this country. “The charm is wound.”
I visited the empty beaches of Nha Trang for the first time during that period : pristine beaches, timid locals (excepting one, the 'famous and loud mouthed' Mama Hanh), the surrounding islands (if you listen carefully you can hear the echo of Mama Hanh's notorious boat trips as you make your visit). Without any doubt this is the place where the gods would live if they were going to join the world. The perfect illustration of Yin and Yang (the perfect balance), although I have to admit that nightlife brought a lot of 'unbalance' to my days and nights in NT. The relaxed, slumbering mood of daytime changes around dusk into a sudden vivacity. The Vietnamese leave the breeze of their open houses for the cooler winds of the South China Sea (East Sea). Young and old combing the waves without a change of clothes (from my beach chair under a thatched umbrella it looks like a wet T-shirt contest where the different aspects of the apparel steal the show; some of the most amazing swimwear on parade). Soon there will be 'Happy Hour', kicking off another animated night in NT. My advice is to stroll beyond the streets near your hotel to discover the diversity of NT nights (metered taxis are everywhere to bring you back).
NT used to be this slumbering fishing town at the borders of the ocean that has unintentionally become a top destination for local tourists and foreigners alike. Life is wonderfully slow here (many have fallen in love with this pace of life). Untouched countryside, forests and hills, traditional villages are only minutes away. Local residents (after countless return visits I have become one of them) would greet each other in bars : “How was your day in paradise?” The way of the world is pretty unique in NT even with the recent prominence of tourism that has taken NT into a higher gear. Is this paradise? With the words 'call a place paradise and you can kiss it goodbye' in mind, it would be fair to say : life treats you extremely well in NT.
The 'real' Vietnamese of NT start their days early in the morning : tai chi on the beach, buying their one day's food supply at the marketplace, having breakfast (at one of the many restaurants or food stalls), drinking coffee and meeting friends in one of the coffeeshops. All of this before 9 am as part of the early rise early to bed strategy. As the tourists wake up slowly (after 9 am, why not?) the street vendors and sellers on the beach open up shop as well (be moderate in your comments as this is how they earn the money to feed their families). Some of it is routine, some of it is ritual. Starting the day around 7 a.m. with friends, coffee and a newspaper at the beach coffeeshop opposite the Lodge Hotel is ritual rather than routine. In a different life I used to go to work at that time of day. That used to be my daily routine. Vietnam is prone to hurricanes and floods. No surprise as it shares 3000 km of its borderline with the South China Sea (East Sea). Although NT is known for its mild climate, heavy rains can infest the town during the rainy season (from half October to half December; in 2010 it rained incessantly during 3 weeks. It was more than a persistent drizzle). January, February and March are the cooler months averaging 25 degrees C or 78 F. The rest of the year is largely dry (75 % of the rainfall during the rainy season), warm and sunny. NT is surrounded by a ring of hills that serves as climate protection for the bay.
Most tourists visit NT for its fantastic beaches and electrifying nightlife, but there are also many sights not to be missed : the islands (Hon Mieu or VinPearl island and its beautiful sea life aquarium, boat trips to the islands), neighboring beach areas (Doc Let, Bai Dai), Po Nagar at the entrance of the Cai river (NT became a key outpost during the Cham empire - 7th to 12th century), the Oceanography Institute (between Bao Dai's villas and the harbor of NT), the Yersin museum (Alexandre Yersin installed a small branch of the Pasteur Institute in NT; streets named in his honor kept their designation after the independence of the unified country), the large Buddha statue on Trai Tue hill, downtown NT (streets and marketplaces) and Thap Ba Hot Spring center (mud baths). NT is also home to the Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy, the Pasteur Institute and the University of NT. Places only to visit in cases of adversity are the Kanh Hoa Hospital (Yersin street 19), the Prestige Int'l Clinic (Tran Qui Cap), VK Hospital (near Ng Thien Thuat street), Dr Hiey & Dr Long (Ng Trai 72 D), Dr Cao (Tran Quy Cap 97 D) or the many pharmacies (the poor man's physician).
April 14, 2011
(sources : Nha Trang, A Guide Book – ed. 2011/2012 and vietnam-beauty.com for valuable information about Nha Trang)