Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mot, Hai, Ba, YO! (1,2,3, Cheers!)

We arrived back in Nha Trang to shitty weather, the clouds were thick and low and the wind was blowing with gale force, the patches of light rain came at us so far sideways it almost fell upwards. Prue and I were hungry from our long bumpy Bus trip down the mountain from Dalat and found the closest restaurant to have a burger each. We had an argument about spending time relaxing, Prue said she wanted to chill out and read a book, but I argued that I didn't want to spend all my time sitting in our hotel room. This statement when teamed up with our burgers, came back to bite us in the arse, quite literally.

Our first night in Nha Trang we learned quickly that the Gold Coast image that masks the appearance of the city, actually hides a deeply rooted dark side below its facade. We walked the street dodging the usual street peddlers and waving away the dodgy men on scooters who would offer all sorts of nasties, from massages with "boom boom" to Weed and Cocaine. Although we found a nice bar to chill out with a drink while we planned a tour for the day after next, we later returned to our hotel with the feeling that Nha Trang wasn't just the family friendly resort town we'd first assumed it to be.

Waking up the next morning we planned to spend the day unwinding and chilling out, maybe rent a scooter and see a few sights around town, but at a slow pace. Unfortunately our burgers from the previous day had other plans and by midday we were both feeling like shit and, well, feeling like shitting, a lot. We were pretty sure it was dodgy salad from our burgers the previous day and as I had picked out my tomato and cucumber I was only hit at one third strength. Prue however, having eaten all her salad like a good girl, was pretty much confined to quaters for the whole day.

The next day we were supposed to be picked up for a tour but as Prue was still really sick we postponed it for the next day, inevitably prolonging our stay in Nha Trang, the weather was still miserable and matched the way Prue was feeling, so I went out and explored the town on a scooter, checking out a few of the back-street locals only areas before stopping at one seaside cafe to drink dodgy coffee, then moving to another sea side cafe to drink more dodgy coffee.

Not all the coffee is dodgy in Vietnam, but when you are served coffee it comes as a glass with some condensed milk in he bottom and then has a metal contraption that sits on top of the glass and coffee grains are poured into. Hot water is poured into the metal cup holding the coffe grains. Then you sit and wait as drip by drip your glass slowly fills. Normally you also get a flask of hot water to top up your glass with. The coffee is usualy delicious (although the condensed milk makes it pretty sweet) however sometimes the coffee filter just doesn't work and you'll sit there for 20 minutes tapping the glass to get it to drip out, meanwhile it goes cold.

A little after lunch Prue was feeling a bit better so we jumped on the scooter to go and visit the local Cham site. The Chams were a local culture that inhabited most of Vietnam hundreds of years ago before being oppressed or moved out by the Chinese. Similarly to the Angkors of Cambodia the Chams built whopping great temples all over the country side and many of them still stand today. The architechture is different to the Angkors with the buildings constructed of small bricks similar in size to common bricks we use today and the style resembles the Indian Hindu temles with Spade shaped pyramids on the top. The Cham site was pretty cool although the dark insides of the temples had a very eerie atmosphere. It was interesting to see that many people still practise the Cham religion today.

Prue had only been eating dry biscuts and steamed rice, but for dinner I ventured out to get takeaway Pho Bo for her on the scooter. It was a new experience trying to cart home soup on a scooter which came in plastic bags, but I managed to get the bags home without tearing the plastic and the Hotel lent us a bowl and chopsticks, but the only spoon they had was a large ladle. With a smirk I left Prue to happily eat her Beef Soup and watch a movie while I ventured out to eat "real food" alone.

Our experiences with massages in our travels have been fantastic up until now, from foot massages in a market to blind massuers, We have found them to be such a great way to re-energise and super cheap. All of these experiences were tainted when we decided to get a massage in Nha Trang. Prue had found a nice cheap place (about $5 per hour) and it wasn't until we had reached the point of no return that we realised we were in a massage "parlour". The girls wearing short skirts was probably the first giveaway, then they asked for tips as they were not paid any money, the money we paid for the massage just got us to them.

Luckily I didn't have a cent in my pocket (as I'd been embarrisingly short on the bill when paying for my dinner earlier and hadn't yet been to an ATM) and Prue escaped with only a small tip. The seediest part was halfway through the lady massinging me pointed to my crotch and winked at me saying "massage?". I eagerly declined and spent the last half of the massage feeling less than relaxed, although it atleast explained why the massage wasn't actually very good. We left the place feeling slightly violated and went back to the hotel and watched "The Beach" on TV. Spending a bit of time locked in the Hotel room hadn't been so bad after we found the TV played two movie channels. the first night we were treated to a Lethal Weapon marathon, the next night was Karate Kid and Twilight, the last being a movie that I hated the first time, but still managed to get absoulelty sucked into. God damn Emo kids.

Waking to another day of shitty weather we grabbed a quick breakfast before heading out to our "four islands" tour. About 3o of us crammed onto a boat, the first island was no more than a pier that led to an aquarium on the island, with the rest of the island completely inaccesable. We didn't want to pay for the Aquarium so spent 45 mins sheltering from the wind, before we set off again for the next island. On the way we passed floating villages of lobster farmers before stopping just offshore from the island for some snorkeling.

I dove from the top of the boat into the deep water and swam off to snorkel around. I couldn't tell if the water was really cloudy as again my snorkel was pretty crap, but the coral and fish were really pretty, and I got some cool photos of the fish underwater. Prue stayed on the boat as it was still fairly windy and she didn't want to get sick again. As we moved to our next stop we were protected from the wind by the islands and the sun even managed to poke it's head out a little bit.

The crew served us a feast before entertaining us with their own band, featuring a makeshift drum kit a fender and a bass. The band was really entertaining although a little out of time with each other. They asked our nationalities and played songs to suit, we were treated to Waltzing Matilda and the Canadian (who was actually Brittish) got Celine Dion. The most impressing part was when they played a German and Russian song sund entirley in their own respective languages, and they finished the jam with a bit of table dancing to La Bamba courtesy of the Spaniard.

Thus began "Happy Hour", the crew threw a bouy with a seat in the middle and a metal ring all the way around it into the water. We jumped into the ocean where we were thrown rubber tubes to sit in, and paddled over to the bouy, in which one of our guides sat and we all held on to "The Floating Bar" (all of the Western people anyway, all of the Vietnamese tourists stayed on the boat and watched). The floating bar had one rule; you could not say the word "no". This caused a bit of a problem for Prue, having braved the water she didn't really want to drink much, and each time she was asked if she wanted a refill, her reply of "no" was swiftly followed by a call to skull. Needless to say the floating bar got a little messy, but it was a hell of a lot of fun.

Our last stop was an island that we had to pay to walk onto. Seeing as the other option was just sitting on the boat we decided to pay the money and I became instantly intrigued with the Jet Skis waiting on the beach. The Jet Skis cost about $15 for fifteen minutes and after negotiating with the operators who were only going to let us take turns on the back while they drove it, we managed to convince them that I would drive and prue would go on the back. Naturally they made me sign a waiver, a waiver that included paying damages if anything happened and they couldn't fix it.

The Jet Ski was fantastic fun, for about four minutes. Perhaps it was the fact we'd never been on one before, or because Prue was clawing at my sides or maybe it was the dozen or so shots of vodka at happy hour... Either way I managed to capsize the Jet Ski, and we couldn't start it again. They sent out a boat to pull us to shore, and the guy accidentaly kneed Prue in the lip while she was being pulled onto the boat, for whch she now has a cut on her upper lip. We nervously avoided the operators while they tried to get the Jet Ski started on the shore, and I was advised to back to the boat and "make myself scarce" while the operator walked around looking for me holding the waiver I had signed... Ooops.

Our last night in Nha Trang we went and had dinner at a place where Prue ate the first legitimite steak we had seen so far. I played some locals at pool (Vietnamese are BIG pool players) and then pretty much passed out back in our hotel room after booking a bus to take us to Quy Nhon at 3pm the next day. Ironically we woke on our last day in Nha Trang to find the weather had cleared up, the wind had died down and it was beautiful and sunny. That would be fucking right.

NOTE: Either the Vietnam Government has blocked Facebook or maybe it's Aliens, either way we can't access the full features of Facebook at the moment. This means there wont be any photos for awhile. Maybe I'll upload some to a different website soon, but for now there is none.