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Nha Trang

sunny 35 °C

Nha Trang offered us a place to relax and unwind. It sounds weird, unwinding on a holiday? Doesn’t really make sense to me either but there is something about constantly doing tours and sight-seeing that is tiring. We definitely needed a ‘veg-out’ session and what better place than on the beach lounging around sipping cocktails by the pool.

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Literally all we have done for 4 days is sit around drinking and chilling out. The first day in Nha Trang we found a really nice beach front bar called Louisiane Brewhouse with a pool and luxurious mattress clad lounge chairs on the sand. We just sat around drinking $4 cocktails until we were hungry and then we feasted and then we drank more cocktails and the cycle continues. At night we would head up to a few bars/night clubs and enjoy the atmosphere.

In Nha Trang we also discovered the $5 vodka. We were initially drinking $4 cocktails until we realised that you can buy a 700ml bottle of 40% vodka for $5!!! So that kept us occupied for a while :)

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On the third day we decided we should do something so we headed off to the Thap Ba mud baths and hot springs. Pretty cool, it involved more sitting and relaxing…

That night at one of the bars we met a cool guy; I’m almost certain his name was Killy, but I could be wrong, anyway we just played Jenga and hung out with the coconut, apple, and mint shisha.

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^^ Keeping up with times
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^^ Feasting on Pho Bo
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So now it’s the fourth day and we are recharged and ready to get back to the tourist trail. We booked a sleeping bus to Hoi An. Fingers crossed Hoi An will offer you a more exciting blog as we get back on track.

Cheers, Kyle

Posted by KyleMac 23:13 Archived in Vietnam Tagged beach vietnam shisha nha_trang Comments (1)

3 Day Easy Rider Tour Dalat to Nha Trang - Day 3

sunny 30 °C

Good Morning World! It is the 8th of April and day three of our three day Easy Rider adventure from Dalat to Nha Trang.

Here is a rough map of the adventure we have been undertaking (google doesn’t have all the villages):

Today we are heading out of the mountains and down to the coast to our final destination, Nha Trang. On the way we stopped at some rubber tree plantations, cocoa farms, and pepper farms.

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^^ Rubber tree plantation
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^^ Collecting the rubber sap
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^^ Cocoa plant
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^^ Kirby learning about cocoa
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^^ Pepper drying
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^^ Freshly picked pepper
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^^ Dried pepper

One of the really cool places we stopped at was a wood furniture store. The men go out to the forest and collect the tree stumps and roots that fell victim to Agent Orange and illegal logging. They carve the most beautiful tables and chairs, dressing tables, and statues. You can pick up a full set of table and chairs, hand carved for around $400.

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^^ Dressing table in construction
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^^ Seat in construction

Most of the day was spent on the road as we had a fair few kilometres to cover before we hit the coast. The road we were travelling on used to be the US army’s major transport thoroughfare through the central highlands to support the northern bases at the frontline, and as a consequence it was the most ambushed mountain pass during the war. This unfortunately means it was also one of the most heavily Agent Orange sprayed areas in Vietnam and the landscape was noticeably scarred by the deadly toxin. In some places you could even make out the flight path of the plane, with rainforest on either side of a desolate poison highway.

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In recent years the land has now been able to support cultivation of rice fields as the poison sinks deeper into the soil; beneath the roots of the rice plants. However, when it comes to the rainforest in the area it is a different story.
Basically the forest grows normally until it reaches a certain height and the roots touch the Agent Orange that is sinking down into the soil. When the forest reaches this level everything dies and the once blossoming rainforest becomes a defoliated barren tragedy, a stark contrast to the rainforest we encountered in the deep Mekong. As you pass through this area an eerie feeling that something is missing niggles at your mind. It took us a while to work out what it was; birds. We didn’t encounter, nor hear, a single bird our entire time passing through this area, a strange occurrence considering there was no cities nearby or any other obvious reason for there not to be birds; obviously another fallout effect of the war.

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What the local people are now doing, instead of watching the forest continually struggle with dying and recovering, are planting Australian gum trees along the affected hillsides; as they grow tall before their roots hit the Agent Orange; they then cut them down and sell the wood. This is only temporary though, as the government has a strong stance on revegetating the devastated lands when the poison sinks further down and they are able to mend the forest. If only the DNA of the people could be mended to stop such a high occurrence of birth defects.

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Finally after a long day on the bike we exited Rotuong Pass where the rail, road, sky, and sea meet on the outskirts of Nha Trang. It is prawn farms galore around this area and we stopped to chat with some local fisherman and prawn farmers. Just as TiTi and Kirby were driving off to head into Nha Trang city Hiep mentioned that I had Science degree with a focus on animals and that I had also done some study on aquaculture and marine biology. As it turns out every single fisherman needed someone like me to work on their prawn and fish farms, and they were all gunning for me. After 35 minutes, some awkward laughing on my behalf, and about a thousand handshakes I had guaranteed myself a lifetime of work if I ever decided to stay in the area. Meanwhile in the city Kirby was having visions of a squashed Kyle on the road as we were considerably late. Thankfully I wasn’t squashed, just flustered from all the attention :).

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^^ Rail
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^^ Meets the road, sky, and sea

So this was it, we had arrived in Nha Trang after 4 days of action packed adventure with the Easy Riders. A few big hugs from the guys later (very cute) and we were all alone in our hotel room, left to reflect on what was our best experience in Vietnam yet.

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I would recommend for anyone and everyone to take a chance with the Easy Riders, they certainly aren’t a gimmick or a rip-off, and they provided us with insight into the history, culture, and way of life of the Vietnamese people that we would never had acknowledged had we not tore up our bus ticket from Dalat to Nha Trang.

Hiep and TiTi were amazing chaperons with great English, and the whole experience felt more like hanging out with two old friends than tour guides. So if you ever find yourself in the mountain town of Dalat in the central highlands of Vietnam, search out these guys, you won’t be disappointed!

Tomorrow we explore Nha Trang, and rest our weary bums, haha.

Cheers, Kyle

Posted by KyleMac 22:34 Archived in Vietnam Tagged road_trip dalat poison nha_trang easy_riders agent_orange easy_rider titi hiep motorbike_tour toxin rotuong_pass aquaculture Comments (1)

3 Day Easy Rider Tour Dalat to Nha Trang - Day 1

sunny 29 °C

The day started early with a cheery grin from TiTi and Hiep as they waited outside our hotel for us. These guys make you laugh for no apparent reason and seeing them sitting outside mucking around with their motorbikes you just can’t help but have a chuckle. Looking at their old ‘battle-axe’ Hondas is an experience in itself, every scratch and dint holds a story and the thought that we might be making our own stories on these bikes over the next three days was a slightly daunting one.

On the way out of town we stopped at a little house and followed TiTi inside. Half of the house was dedicated to the production of tofu. Apparently while the kids are at school mum and dad make tofu all day and then after school the kids hurry home to start work as well. In Vietnam only hard effort pays the bills.

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Further out of town we also had the opportunity to witness coffee bean de-husking, mushroom drying, and a tea farm.

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^^ Drying mushrooms
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^^ Coffee being de-husked
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^^ At the tea farm

Next stop was at Cam Ly base, an old U.S Army airbase that provided air support for the south army fighting in the central highlands. Most of the base has been dismantled and in some local houses you can see parts of the helicopter landing-bay now being used as fencing.

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The guys are super knowledgeable and are constantly spewing information the entire ride, they are like text books on motorbikes and it is impossible to write down everything they were telling us, so I’ll just try and remember the main parts of the day :).

Next stop was Phi To village, a local village where the K’ Ho minority people live, our first taste of the real tribal Vietnam. They live in small mud houses and most of the men are out in the mountains with the water buffalo in the rice fields for weeks at a time. We had the privilege of touring their small village and handing corn candy to the children. Corn candy is also a first, an actual lolly that tastes like corn, wasn’t horrendous but I wouldn’t say it’s a real treat, although the kids couldn’t get enough.

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^^ Angelo. . .
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^^ Where's Blacky?
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^^ Lots of pigs in Phi To
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^^ Family in Phi To

After more twisting and winding up the mountain roads we stopped at another small village. Darsal village is where the Chil minority people call home.

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Further up the road the boys let us off and we slowly wandered along the mountain pass, admiring the view and stretching our legs. The guys are really considerate and concerned about the health of our arses and are stopping every 10-15 minutes for a little walk along the road, also one of the reasons why it takes 3 days to get to Nha Trang.

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It wasn’t long before we entered Dak Lak province and stopped at Krong No for some much needed hydration, although we accidently walked through the meat market which was fairly disturbing. I’m still deciding what was worse; what the meat used to be, or the air thick with enormous black flies.

Next stop was a little village where the Taq people live. All the minorities have different construction methods and these particular people use bamboo and mud for their dwellings. It was funny when we walked around the house and found the huge satellite dish for the plasma tv inside. Obviously silk worm farming makes good Dong.

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^^ Silk worms
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Next to the village was a chance to test the Vietnamese bridge construction. As much a structure as it was an arranged bundling of sticks. Fairly frightening but exciting crossing, although apparently they drive motorbikes over it, which is really scary!

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Further up the road was a real bridge, but also a place where some Vietnamese people from the Mekong call home.

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Finally we make it to Buon Jun village where we are spending the night. We had the option of private bungalows outside of the settlement, but we chose to rough-it in a homestay right in the heart of the village, alongside the dogs, roosters, pigs, goats, and buffalo.

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^^ Learning about rice
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^^ Buon Jun Village

Today was packed full of so much that I can’t write about it all. If the next couple of days are like this one, we are going to need a couple of rest days when we arrive in Nha Trang!

Cheers, Kyle

Posted by KyleMac 02:49 Archived in Vietnam Tagged dalat rider easy nha_trang easy_rider titi hiep motorbike_tour cam_ly phi_to darsal chil dak_lak krong_no buon_jun Comments (1)

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