Back in the USSR

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June - Vietnam, Vietnam

* We were in Nha Trang, Vietnam from June 8-9, 2015

We arrived in Nha Trang, with super sore butts but ear-to-ear smiles from our all day motorbike ride.  The town appeared cute at first glance, laid out with narrow side alleys off of a wide boulevard through the center of town with glowing lanterns and lights threaded overhead like a canopy.  Everything dead ended at a huge beach packed with people, even at sunset, which was when we finally got out for our first walk.  The town was definitely walkable, quaint and welcoming!  Slowly we started to notice signs in Russian, stores with Russian products, menus advertising Russian cuisine, lots of the tourists speaking Russian, pretty much anything and everything was coming up Russian!  Turns out, Nha Trang is like a little Russia, a total Russian beach get away, like there is some sort of secret communist to communist agreement to provide Russians with inexpensive travel packages to Nha Trang.  The weirdest thing of all was that we don’t remember seeing Russians, at all, in any other part of Vietnam!  The town was seriously packed with people and we had a good time just wandering around, taking it all in for our one and only night in town.

Yes, it was just a quick, 2 day, 1 night stop for us on our Vietnam tour.  But we packed in the activities, and although it wasn’t our favorite Vietnamese city in terms of authenticity, we had a great time.  We woke up early the next day for a full day of boating and snorkeling off the coast.  Then we explored town a bit more until we caught an overnight bus out of town and onto our next adventure.

Nah Trang Highlights…

    • Saw our first dose of strange, Asian animal remedies, Cobratoxan, a cream with snake venom.  60% of the time it works every time.  We were lucky to get a quick pic of the package before the store owner shooed us away.
    • Our snorkeling tour took us off the coast by boat, and we passed right by Vietnam’s equivalent of Disney World, an island called “Vinpearl”.  It’s an underwater themed resort and amusement park, that features a Hollywood-like sign and a gondola that actually spans the the stretch between the mainland and the island.
    • The snorkeling was really fun and exhausting.  We went for 3 different swims, and there were lots of colorful fish and coral to see, along with the unfortunately all too common Asian floating plastic bag species.  There were also hundreds of tiny jellyfish swimming with us at all times, and we could swear we felt mini-stings from them, although they left no marks on our skin.
    • The tour provided an unbelievable lunch spread, which you can see in the pics below.  Everything was prepared on board the boat in what seemed to be giant buckets.  But it was delicious and perfectly presented in neat rows by the tour leader in his tiny swim shorts.
    • We took turns jumping off the upper deck of the boat after we saw a group of young British kids daring each other to try.  We figured we may as well join in the action.
    • Our hostel gave us the first taste, a lingering taste that would not quite go away for the rest of our time in Asia, of the infamous shower head over the toilet bathroom layout.  It’s not something seen often, or ever, in America.  It’s like a whole different take on a bathroom, where the bathroom becomes a completely wet room, with no shower curtain to keep the spray in and a not well thought out drain placement that pools the water and soap suds in some strange part of the bathroom floor, inevitably in your way when you just want to go in to brush your teeth or use the toilet.  I wish I had taken pictures of all the bathrooms like this that we encountered, but at the time, I didn’t love dealing with them, so definitely wasn’t envisioning a future, funny photo collage of ridiculous bathroom layouts.
    • We met a Canadian couple, Sylvie and Ian, at our hostel, who were on our same overnight bus out of Nha Trang.  We had some good laughs with them about the crazy bus bunk bed layout, and then Sylvie and I had an unforgettable middle of the night experience together, in a bus stop women’s restroom.  Let’s just say, we each went in with flip flops, and upon exiting, we both immediately quarantined our flip flops in plastic baggies until we could completely sanitize them the next day.

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