11th – 13th May 2012

After an interesting few days in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) relating to the Vietnam War, I think it was time to relax and get away from Culture for a bit…but first off, I had to deal with some serious drama. It was tres upsetting.

Matt was leaving me.

Sob sob sob!

During his time in Vietnam, he decided to return to Thailand to Chiang Mai for some chilling out. I don’t blame him. He didn’t want to be rushing up Vietnam to meet his next flight to his next destination so he decided to return and go at his own pace.

What was I gonna do without him? For the last 47 days I was travelling with him and one minute he told me he was leaving. The arse! After everything we’ve been through sob sob sob. I was sure to miss him and for the next few days, I kept glancing round to find Matt only to have that stark and bitter realisation come through.

With a tearful farewell (not, as it was a ‘see you later’) in the morning as Alannah and I had to catch the bus to Nha Trang…the premier beach town of Vietnam.

Climbing on board and Matt telling us good riddance, we were pleased about the plushness of the bus. I mean, we’ve heard horror stories about Vietnamese sleeper buses and we were confused how nice this bus was. Yes, it was a sleeper bus but we were travelling during the day. It was to take 12 hours. But actually, it was really nice to have the day to myself and I manage to read a whole book in one sitting. Hadn’t done that in absolute yonks! After finishing my book, Alannah gave me a book about a little girl’s experience of the Khmer Rouge period in Cambodia. It’s called ‘First they killed my Father‘. It’s a haunting experience and I’m glad I read this book as it gave me an in depth of the horrors of that period.

Arriving refreshed in Nha Trang, I was pleased to figure where we were here as I was studying the map to get an orientation as the bus trundled in. Our accommodation was at least 1km away but we walked it, laden with our backpacks. No problems at all apart from a few stumbles. Seriously, Vietnam is out to get us. The path is riddled with obstacles and we would find ourselves tripping over, stubbing our feet and many more.

We stayed at Backpacker’s House, a pretty decent place. Other I had to be in a dorm of 16 people and only 1 bathroom between all of us…dum dum DUM!

However, the duo of Alannah and I became 3 again as guess what?! We bumped into John! You may remember him from Laos and Chiang Mai who I travelled with. After a quick catch up over drinks, it was time for bed!

The next morning, after having a continental brekkie, we headed to the beach where I duly got sunburnt! The water was so refreshing and I wished I could have stayed in all day. The temperature was just right…not cold but not too warm.

We just relaxed all morning!

The in the afternoon, we headed off to the mud baths just north of Nha Trang. We booked with Backpacker’s House and a taxi came to pick us up. As we arrived, he asked for money..huh? We already paid 10 dollars for both entrance fee and taxi service. Suspect it was but he let it go and arranged a time to come back to pick us up. Ah well, we soon forgot the confusion.

I have to say, that afternoon was pure bliss. I love love love love my baths and not having one for the last month and a half has driven me insane! So what did I do in the mud bath?

First off, we had to have a jet shower to wash away the sweat and dirt on our bodies. Then 15 minutes spent in a bath full of natural mud. I got a dollop of mud in a container and poured it over my head…bad mistake. I got mud all over in my eyes and mouth haha. But you could feel the mud working. As you scrubbed the mud over your body, you could feel yourself being exfoliated. Yes, yes, I’m talking like a girl.

Also, it’s been a long time I shared a bath with anyone so having 3 of us in one tub was an experience!

Then we had to sunbathe to allow the mud to cake on our body. Quickly followed by another jet shower wash.

There was this conveyor belt type movement throughout the spa, and we had to follow instructions from the staff. We were told to go into the hydrotherapy route in which jets of water would spray from all directions onto your body. However, this route is catered for Vietnamese and I mean by that is they are short. So jets were only reaching as high as my lower chest. I made many locals laugh by squatting and walking through to try and get all the hydrotherapy all over my body!

Then came the piece de la resistance. A hot mineral water bath. I was in pure heaven. I switched off from the babbling of John and Alannah and floated there just enjoying the experience. We must have been there for at least 45 mins before we begrudgingly had to move on. My skin felt so revitalised and new causing me to have a bounce in my step!

But the spa treatment didn’t end here. We were told to swim in the body temperature swimming pool. It was pretty nice. But I loved the power jet that pounded by back sorting out a few knots. And finally, a sit down under a waterfall that cascaded over my shoulders. Pretty good eh?!

As we arrived back at the hostel with our taxi, we were told off by the staff. Apparently we got into a public taxi, not the booked taxi. Oops, but no one told us which one it is and the taxi driver we had said it was ours. The crafty beggar. No wonder we were confused when he asked about money at the spa. Luckily, the hostel admitted that they should have told us and paid off the taxi driver.

Changing into clean clothes, we went out for a meal at one the best restaurants I’ve been so far on my trip. It’s called Lanterns. All profits go to the local orphanages and they offer cooking courses as well. I was very tempted to do another cooking course but thought I’d do one further up Vietnam. But I had the Seafood Hotpot and it was totally to die for. So so so so tasty and I almost ordered another one! I decided to get another dish, and another one and another one! Feel free to laugh at my sunburnt body on the last pic!

The next day, it was time to abandon all culture and do what we have been wanting to do since seeing it in the backdrop of Nha Trang…we were going to a Water Park!!! Wahey! Slides Ahoy!

Not only its a water park but an Amusements Arcade, a roller coaster park and an Underwater Aquarium. But first, you needed to get there…by cable car! Straight over the stretch of sea to the island where the Water Park rested. The water is called VinPearl by the way!

Spending all day on all the rides, particularly the slides that health and safety back home in Britain wouldn’t have allowed, my favourite would have to been the Tsunami ride in which you are propelled down a massive slide and then up to the edge before dropping back again and swishing back and fro like a wave. It was scary!

We also checked out the amusements, travelled on a stimulator, looked in awe at the underwater aquarium, saw Shark Embryos wriggling about and attempted to get eaten by a whale.

We could have stayed longer but we needed to get back as we booked an overnight sleeper bus to Hoi An (central Vietnam). We were looking forward to it as we loved the bus journey from Saigon…but little did we know that we would face Vietnam transport at its worst…

Have you been to Nha Trang?