Ohh I do like to be beside the seaside…

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Ohh I do like to be beside the seaside...
Ohh I do like to be beside the seaside...

Well, a few months back, I decided to head off to the seaside for a week and take a well deserved rest from teaching. Problem is, I’ve been too lazy to blog recently due to the fact that I’m surrounded by what is to me the horticultural equivalent of pornography (yes, my glorious and beloved palm collection), stacks of cold beer and an entire harem of 6,236 beautiful, Vietnamese women. Anyway, now that I have a few minutes spare I will publish this blog before something else comes along and distracts me!!!

I decided to take a trip to Nha Trang which is about six hours from Bien Hoa by train. Normally it would only take about 45 minutes, however, you have to remember that this is Asia and even hitchhikers can stop the train here! This city of half a million people is located about a third of the way up the east coast of Vietnam. It has a warm, balmy climate and one of the best beaches in the world
As most of you are aware, I’m not a huge fan of beaches, so I spent many hours scouring the web and a great deal of travel literature in an attempt to find as many historical sites and places of interest to keep me away from sand, surf and the wreched sunburn that comes along with it!

Needless to say, it’s now the middle of December and I’m still very close to warm sandy beaches, in a warm, tropical country and most of you are not, so obviously I had put myself out and include some shots of the beach just to make you all extremely jealous ūüėČ Sometimes, I really have to pinch my arm and remind myself that I am so lucky to live in a place like this. I just wish I had done this many years ago, but hey, I’m here now and that is what is important….

Ohh I do like to be beside the seaside...
Ohh I do like to be beside the seaside…

Considering Nha Trang is one of the main stop offs on the backpacker circuit, it still feels relatively laid back compared to the manic chaos of Saigon and Bien Hoa. The streets are narrower and the vibe is a lot more chilled even though the local bars and restaurants attract the thirty something, backpacking, piss artists who like to scream, rant on about their boring and tedious partying adventures and vomit over whoever happens to be sitting next to them!

That said, there are plenty of small places, located down small side streets where you can sit back in peace and quiet, relax and enjoy yet more of the cheap food that seems to abound here. There are also plenty of things to see and do even if it doesn’t really take more than a couple of days to see it all.
Most people will head directly to the beach, this being one of the best in Vietnam, the water also being very clean. Surrounded by hills and located on the edge of a huge bay, the local area is protected from the worst of the weather and the climate in Nha Trang is thought to be about the best that Vietnam has to offer.

To the north of the city is Po Nagar. This is without a doubt the best of the ancient sites here in Nha Trang. Founded around the end of the 8th century AD. It is a small complex made up of a variety of small buildings, some of which you can go inside and leave an offering if you feel so inclined. Located on a hill, you can also get some nice shots of the surrounding hills and the city itself.
There are plenty of other small sites to visit and you are also welcome at many of the Buddhist temples that are dotted around the city. One the the largest and most interesting is the Long Son temple which is situated almost bang slap in the centre of the city. It comes complete with smiling monks, hilltop bell and a huge reclining Buddha! This temple site is also located on a small hill and the trek up will reveal another even huger white Buddha mounted on a pedestal overlooking the city.

Getting about is quite easy too. Taxis are everywhere and if your feeling brave you can hire a moped or scooter, especially being as the traffic isn’t so manic in this part of the country. Getting away from the hussle and bussle of Nha Trang is much easier if you do decide to go down the moped route. Riding north out of Nha Trang, you can take the highway that follows the coast. Most of the scenery is stunningly beautiful, with secluded beaches and small bays appearing as you drive further north. About 10km north of Nha Trang you will come across what can only be described as an abandoned fishing village, with curious concrete structures, topped by sharply pitched thatched roofs. You can’t get inside being as the area is fenced off but it’s worth taking the short drive out just to get a glimpse of these strange buildings.
After a couple of days in Nha Trang, I decided to head south out of Nha Trang towards Cam Ranh however, the road heads inland from the coast and there isn’t really much to see unless you like dusty roads and just have to see the location of last years Miss World contest!

Unfortunately, Nha Trang is gradually being westernised due mainly to the glut of western tourists who come here. While the beaches and the views are beautiful, huge resorts jut out all along the coastline and spoil the natural beauty of the surrounding area. Mind you, no matter where you travel nowadays, huge hotels and large resorts are rapidly becoming a standard feature on every beautiful beach worldwide, mostly in an attempt to satisfy the rich, idiot tourists who simply can’t travel to another country without having all the comforts of home to hand.

Across the bay you will also find an island with an overpriced resort named Vinapearl. This resort comprises a water park and luxurious hotels which can be reached by boat or cable car. Having been flabergasted by the price to ride across on the cable car I decided instead to drive into town and visit the Long Son temple, which was a much more spiritual and non-materialistic experience.
As I was booking my hotel on the Internet, I found a glut of accomodation, all vying for their piece of the cake. I found a lovely little guesthoust, run by a Vietnamese family. It’s clean, comfortable and has all the mod cons such as A/C, TV and a fridge and its only a 3 minute walk to the beach. For 5 nights I paid a grand total of $65, yet further down the list was a resort about 10 minutes up the coast that was only $11000 for 5 nights!!! Why do people pay these idiotic prices? Why do they even bother coming here if they all they want to do is remain insulated from everything and everybody around them?

Ohh I do like to be beside the seaside...
Ohh I do like to be beside the seaside…

For almost a year now, I’ve lived amongst the indigenous population. The Vietnamese people are wonderful, they are always smiling, they are always friendly and are among the most hospitable people I have ever met. This is one of the redeeming features of living in Bien Hoa, there are no idiot tourists or soul searching, party loving backpackers here and I love it!

Needless to say, I do so want to see more of Vietnam and being as this country is rapidly becoming the latest ‘place to be’ on the tourist map then I can imagine that over the next few years white faces are not going to be such an uncommon site here as they are at the moment. Never mind, maybe I can find myself a nice little shack up in the mountains somewhere and live on a diet of drunken, obnoxious, backpackers who bore me to death with their boring, never ending stories of endless partying and projectile vomiting exploits…….

Well, a few months back, I decided to head off to the seaside for a week and take a well deserved rest from teaching. Problem is, I’ve been too lazy to blog recently due to the fact that I’m surrounded by what is to me the horticultural equivalent of pornography (yes, my glorious and beloved palm collection), stacks of cold beer and an entire harem of 6,236 beautiful, Vietnamese women. Anyway, now that I have a few minutes spare I will publish this blog before something else comes along and distracts me!!!
I decided to take a trip to Nha Trang which is about six hours from Bien Hoa by train. Normally it would only take about 45 minutes, however, you have to remember that this is Asia and even hitchhikers can stop the train here! This city of half a million people is located about a third of the way up the east coast of Vietnam. It has a warm, balmy climate and one of the best beaches in the world
As most of you are aware, I’m not a huge fan of beaches, so I spent many hours scouring the web and a great deal of travel literature.