Hawkers and hookers. Nha Trang, Vietnam

January 24, 2010 at 1:05 pm 3 comments

The best way to describe Nha Trang is as a Vietnamese Playa del Ingles. A playground for westerners and wealthy Vietnamese, Nha Trang offers everything you would expect from a tourist blackspot – a beautiful white sand beach, plenty of accomodation, more bars than you can shake a beer at and a handful of great nightclubs. Unfortunately it has all of the less attractive trappings too including hundreds of persistent tauts selling sunglasses, beer, cigarettes, photocopied books and “massa” (massages – usually with happy endings). There is also a pretty distasteful group of prostitutes strutting about at nighttime cornering western men, groping them and while they are distracted, stealing their wallets.

Usually that many tauts and drunken westerners in one place would have been our nightmare but by the time we reached Nha Trang – tired, dirty, and with painful saddle sores – we were more than happy to surrender to shameless tourism for a few days of eating, drinking and recovering on the beach. And that is exactly how it turned out. Within 20 minutes of arriving we had already tracked down all our old friends from Hué – including the lovely Rhiannon and Alex and the painfully funny Adam – and organised a three night piss up. We also stumbled upon Dave who, after a forgotten night in the infamous Sailing Club, was vomitting on lawns, in ponds and just about everywhere he could find a space free of stalls and motorbikes.

That set the tone for the trip and we spent a fun-filled few days bouncing from Why Not Bar to Red Apple, alternating between 50 cent double rum and cokes and buckets of red bull and vodka. The Aussies, as usual, were letting it rip on the female tourists, waitresses, hotel staff, hawkers, bar maids, tour guides, sales girls, mothers, daughters and bystanders of Nha Trang creating a web of scandal, controversy, bitterness and hilarity wherever they went.

So for three guiltfree days we sipped cocktails and whispered about the latest sex scandal on the backpacker scene, pausing only to fend off wayward hookers and drunkenly harrass American tourists about their role in the Vietnam War (“so how do you feel about what your people did to all those poor Vietnamese women and children? Huh?! I don’t care if you weren’t born and if your parents were anti-war protestors! I’m holding you personally responsible!”).

I’m sorry to say that we also saw very little of Nha Trang – just the enchanting Po Ngar Cham towers nearby and a quick excursion down the coast which found us peering over the wall at a lively fishing village where boys were playing football, girls were pretending not to watch and men were swigging beers and swinging their legs over the edge of a pier. Apparently Nha Trang can be pretty nice if you can set down your beer, say no to the booze cruise and set a course of your own.

More pictures from Nha Trang are available in the gallery

Rhiannon

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Continued – Sunburn, squoodles and splattered chickens. Hoi An to Nha Trang, Vietnam (Day 2) You don’t know man, you weren’t there. Nha Trang to Dalat, Vietnam, BlogSherpa

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. brad  |  March 10, 2010 at 6:50 am

    You can do the same thing at home…drinking and bar hopping.The real nha trang…if you can get out of the backpacker area is wonderful…with many things to do…great food and shopping and friendly people. the war is over….let it go…enjoy vietnam.

    Reply
  • 2. Nha Trang Charlie  |  March 17, 2010 at 7:04 am

    It is always sad when I read such an offensive review. It is written by someone who has very limited exposure of experience in both Vietnam and Nha Trang.
    This article is even part of the Lonely Planet website. Perhaps before this is given so much exposure the readers should make a VISIT on their own.
    I am a retired American businessman. I have done business in Asia for 40 years. I have traveled to 43 countries. It is not “MY FIIRST DAY AT THE BEACH”.
    I have lived in Nha Trang for 5 years. It is a very SPECIAL place.

    Enjoy Each and everyday.
    Nha Trang Charlie
    Safe and secure and very friendly. IF THE WRITER IS AFRAID OF SEX WORKERS I SUGGEST HE STAY IN HIS HOUSE AND DO NOT GO OUTSIDE NO MATTER WHERE YOU LIVE.

    Reply
    • 3. yearlongbreakup  |  March 18, 2010 at 9:32 am

      Hi Charlie
      Thanks for your comment, it is always good to see what people think of
      our blog – good or bad. I am sorry that you were so offended by our
      post on Nha Trang but, as is the case with any blog or travel article,
      the piece only reflects our experience of the town, an experience we
      made no attempt to disguise as anything but limited. For that reason,
      I make no apologies at all for what was said, only that it offended
      you so deeply. I think that our experience of Nha Trang was more or
      less the experience of most tourists that visit there and was
      certainly in keeping with the opinions of everyone we met while we
      were there. As you are probably aware, a tourist’s view of a town is
      often wildly different from that of a local but is no less valid -
      everyone is entitled to an opinion after all.

      When you were reading the blog you also probably noticed that I
      acknowledged that the deficiencies we found in Nha Trang were probably
      of our own making, since we did not have the time to properly explore
      the town beyond the tourist strip. I closed the blog with the line
      “Apparently Nha Trang can be pretty nice if you can set down your
      beer, say no to the booze cruise and set a course of your own”, hardly
      a damning statement.

      As far as Lonely Planet goes, as far as I am aware their aim in
      recommending blogs is to give a variety of different views on a
      location rather than just the thoughts of one person. Even on the Nha
      Trang page you will notice that the views of bloggers are wildly
      different. This, I think, is to Lonely Planet’s credit – what would be
      the use in visiting the site if every location just received glowing
      recommendations? Deciding on a holiday destination would be no easier.

      As you are probably aware, every blog comment from a new reader must
      be approved by the moderator before it appears on their blog page. We
      have approved your comment despite its negative tone to demonstrate
      our belief that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. That, after
      all, is the spirit of blogging. We hope that in the future you will
      grant others the same courtesy.

      Ro and Gary

      Reply

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