Hawkers and hookers. Nha Trang, Vietnam
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