Nha Trang is on Vietnam’s central coast and is beach-rific. I arrived on April 7 at 8 a.m. after a very early start in Hanoi and a bumpy take-off with Vietnam Airlines.
The weather is hot and the sun very bright. Right away, I found a hotel right near the beach, thankfully with air conditioning. The thing to do in Nha Trang, which looks a lot like the Mediterranean Coast of Turkey, but less dramatic, is to go on a $6 boat trip to the four islands with snorkeling, singing, and promises of a swim-up bar.
I went to the Lonely Planet recommended place of Mama Linh’s and bought the trip. As I was about to leave, I saw a familiar face – Alex, the marine liability insurance attorney from Australia, was entering the store. I said hey and we talked about the trip and what we were doing there. His younger brother and he were on a 10 day quick tour of Vietnam going North to South. I mentioned that I was going for coffee and he joined me at what we thought was a coffee shop, but turned out to be a French barbershop that served espresso.
Alex is very funny and easy to talk to, plus, at 26, he’s been all over the world and has entertaining stories, including one involving the Serbian mafia. Our conversation meant that one coffee turned into two and then two beers and soon it was early afternoon and we had to get Luke, who was back at their hotel room. We got our stuff together, ate rice and pork at a street stand restaurant (in Vietnam this means eating on tiny chairs and pouring chili sauce over everything).
We spent the rest of the day together at rented chairs on the beach, sipping Tiger beer, reading, and watching Luke get a very personal massage – the massage lady focused on this backside a lot more than the other parts of his body, it must have very tense. The beach is beautiful and the sun beds made enjoying a lot more comfortable. There weren’t too many hawkers and those that were sold massages and cigarettes.
We found dinner that night at a place that advertised “free buckets with each meal” and ignored the two rats we saw scurry out of the kitchen. The buckets also flowed freely until 11 at the bar next door. Our group became a bigger group with the addition of three twenty-year old Brits. I was a little drunk at this point, but still could answer the Brit’s inquiries about the American health care system and our new health care bill (Read: It does not solve the problem of gigantic health care costs propagated by the opaque-ness and other-ness of Medicare and employer-sponsored insurance payment plans). An aside, I’ve found that the British are very curious about how the American health care system works and that if we get sick, we can really only see a doctor if we have insurance. Their system allows them to see a doctor if they get sick. How novel.
Luke and I disappointed Alex by leaving at 11:30. He joined some other backpackers and partied till four. I still woke up tired and with a small hangover, which went away by the time I was on the boat trip.