Last week we spent our first overseas Spring Break in Nha Trang, a beach resort on the Southern coast of Vietnam. Unfortunately, we had to spend our first night of vacation in Guangzhou due to a four hour delay and missed connection. Apparently, this was due to some kind of military exercise, so Southern China Airlines put us up in the HJ (not) Grand Hotel. No voucher, no upgrade, and honestly, I’m not even sure there was an apology. So very China. When we finally got to the Intercontinental Hotel in Nha Trang, the accommodations and the view were much improved.
Motorbikes are the preferred means of transportation in this part of the world, and crossing the street can appear to be an insurmountable challenge for the uninitiated. Ultimately, you just have to boldly step out into traffic and magically, the motorbikes go around you, as long as you keep moving forward. Stopping or hesitating can definitely result in serious bodily damage and clearly signifies that you are a clueless tourist. Check out this video to see one of our earliest attempts.
Once we figured out how to navigate the streets, we did some exploring of the local landmarks, which include a cathedral, a pagoda with a giant Buddha statue and a Buddhist temple. Jeff got adventurous and decided to try the local cuisine – we both enjoyed the Chicken Pho and then we BBQ’d chicken, beef, pork and shrimp at our table. We really enjoyed chatting with our waitress, Khanh, so we decided it would be fun to take a cooking class. We started out in the morning by going to the local market to buy the ingredients, and then headed back to the restaurant to make lunch. Along with seven other couples, we learned how to make Goi Cuon, or rice paper spring rolls, and Kho To (Pork & Chicken in a Clay Pot). Pineapple flambé rounded out the meal, and that was plenty of exertion for one day.
One of the reasons we chose to go to Nha Trang was to do some diving. I hadn’t been in about 5 years, so I really wanted a refresher and some personal attention. Everything is so cheap that we decided to charter a boat instead of going out with a bunch of other people. We spent a great day on and under the water with Scotty, a chill dude from Arcata, CA; he took us on two decent dives near Madonna Rock. It was good to get back in the water and get some sun, although Jeff’s poor head is still healing from a pretty bad burn.
We spent our last day in Saigon, officially Ho Chi Minh City, where we saw the Cuchi Tunnels, the elaborate network of underground tunnels used as hideouts, living quarters and supply routes for the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. We also spent some time at the War Remnants Museum and then had dinner and walked around the city center before heading to the airport for our 2:35 am flight. We knew that it was not going to be fun getting home with a flight scheduled for that time, but it was then delayed until 4:30 and delayed again when we were on the tarmac. I think we actually took off at 5:30 am, so that was a fun way to wrap up our vacation. At least it made us happy to back home in Shanghai! Stay tuned for more Spring travels: Taiwan and Bali are up next!