Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Nha Trang relax day

Day 23 - Wednesday, November 27
Distance - 0 kms = total for day ~ 0 hrs (actually ~10km solo around Nha Trang)
Trip Odometer =  2757 kms
Route - Nha Trang area relax day.
Hotel -  Ha Van Hotel - Nha Trang ($32 x 2 nights)
Weather -  Overcast and cloudy followed by rain at noon and cloudy in the afternoon.

I had read a lot about Nha Trang before arriving.  There is a ton of tourist info online in addition to there being a large section in the Lonely Planet guide we were packing.  There were a few reviews that stated a boat tour in the area was a really nice way to spend the day, with some snorkelling and a visit to one of the adjacent islands.  We talked to the woman at the front desk of our hotel and she said that these tours could be booked directly from the front desk at our hotel.  She also said that they were generally 'weather permitting' and if it was too soggy out, then it wouldn't be the best, and the trips could be cancelled.

We decided to wait until the next morning to see what the weather was looking like, and low-and-behold... it was indeed soggy, yet again.

We decided to take a stroll around Nha Trang rain-or-shine.  The breakfast at the Ha Van Hotel was included and we had a good choice off their menu of what we desired.  The hotel had a really nice roof-top patio that doubles as a bar/nightclub and this is where we were served breakfast.  After eating, we hit the streets of Nha Trang to have a look around.  It was quite a mini 'city' with large multi storey hotels all beach-side.  There was a really nice beachside promenade and we chose a combination of this and the beach itself.  We were both hoping for some warm weather and sunshine and unfortunately our request wasn't satisfied like that of our sunny beach time in Hoi An.

At one point in our walk, darker clouds rolled in and the rain started coming down in droves.  We were pretty much near the entrance of the 'Nha Trang Center', a large cosmopolitan shopping center.  We ducked inside to wait-out the downpour and were very surprised to see the designer handbags and chic names in addition to the crazy-high prices.  Oh well, it was a dry place to wait out the rain with interesting things to look at.

Another surprise was the stuffed ostrich I found, it was guarding the men's ties and belts, wallets and handbags.

I had a really tough time trying to pick-out a new pair of riding sunglasses.... there were so many!


We slowly headed to the top floor of the shopping center where the food-court area was situated.  At the entrance of the food court, a guy had a booth offering foot massage and pedicures in addition to the famous 'Doctor-Fish' soak.  I guess it is quite popular for tourists to get these carp or 'garra rufa' fish to nibble on the dead skin of their feet and ankles.  Apparently, the fish don't have teeth and it is said that it is a very soothing but perhaps ticklish treatment while the little critters eat your dead skin.  These two willing participants from (wait for it...) Russia!, were fine with me taking their photo while they had the fish between their toes.

I tried to convince Amanda to get this treatment, but she whispered to me that she would have no part of it.  (My 'better-half-nurse' later told me that while working in health care at home, she had previously read that these treatments are quite unsanitary when it comes down to it, and in some places in Canada and the US, these treatments have in fact been banned.)

After a coffee and hot chocolate in the Nha Trang Center, we headed back outside to continue our sightseeing.  The rain had let-up momentarily, but at one point, we had to duck-under-cover again on our walk back to our hotel area... more downpour.

Nha Trang - aka: 'Little Russia' - as stated on more than one online Nha Trang website

After an excellent baguette lunch, Amanda decided to head to one of the many Spas in Nha Trang for some sort of a relaxation treatment which she truly deserved after all the days on the bikes.  I decided that my feet and nails were fine, so I fired up my Honda and went for a solo spin north of the city center and up the coast.  The weather had cleared somewhat and in my 1hr tour I was able to stay dry which was nice.  At one point, I looped around and started heading back south of the city.  I came across the famous Vinpearl Island cable car.  I had read that Vinpearl Island is a luxury 'resort island' owned by a Vietnamese billionaire.  The cable lift is the world's longest over-the-water lift - the crossing is 3320m and has 9 support towers.  I guess it is lit-up at night and is quite the site.

When I arrived back to the Ha Van Hotel in the afternoon, I sat in the lobby/ice-cream-parlour and got to chatting with the owner of the hotel.  It turns out, he is French-Canadian (originally from Quebec City) and we had a great chat.  I had a zillion questions for him with regards to Nha Trang and the area, and also questions about our planned route up the mountain pass to Dalat the following day.  He was a pleasure to talk with and a wealth of knowledge.  His Vietnamese wife owned a restaurant right beside the hotel that he suggested we eat at later.

Once Amanda was back from the Spa, we decided to head for a couple of drinks before going to supper at the suggested 'Nha Hang Yens' Restaurant.  We headed to the 'Why Not Bar' in Nha Trang a favoured watering-hole for tourists because of their upbeat vibe in addition to their cheap-cheap drinks.

'Nha Trang - Hedonistic beach party capital' (as stated in the Lonely Planet)... and with these beer and cocktail prices, it would be difficult not to indulge (Happy Hour 15,000d beers = $0.80 and 20,000d highball mixers = $1.05)     Yikes and Yikes!

We had an excellent meal at the Nha Hang Yen Restaurant (click this link for reviews).  The food was amazing and the prices were very reasonable.  It was shrimp salad rolls to start, followed by a chicken curry and pork fried noodle dish, wonderful cheese cake for dessert and beers to wash it all down.  Yum.

We had 3 more days of riding ahead of us - roughly 550 km to go to make it to our final destination by motorbike.  Our plan was to head up into the mountains to the city of Dalat for a night.  We would then head back down for a final day at the beach in Mui Ne and then to Ho Chi Minh City - Saigon by Saturday, November 30th.  We had arranged to drop the bikes off in HCMC the afternoon of Saturday the 30th and then Flamingo Travel would arrange to have the bikes put on the train and sent back to Hanoi and we would fly back up on Sunday.

I was excited for riding the next day.  We were going to tackle the famous 'new-roads' triangle linking Nha Trang to Dalat to Mui Ne, apparently amazing for motorbike travel.  

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