November 2008

We had two stops in Vietnam during our honeymoon cruise on the Diamond Princess, the first of which was at Nha Trang.

The very first thing we noticed about Nha Trang before we’d even got off the ship and boarded the tender boat to take us quite a distance to shore was the humidity. We’d noticed it the night before where our usual evening behaviour would be to shower, get changed, then go for a walk along the promenade before having dinner and finding some entertainment to see us into the early hours; the difference between an air conditioned ship and the outside climate was like walking from a fridge into a sauna and that was in the evening at sea. In the daytime it was worse and we were sweating buckets in seconds. Eventually you just learned to try to accept that everyone was the same sticky, wet mess.

The first place we visited on dry land in Vietnam was an embroidery and tea house. The quality of the embroidery was fantastic and it was incredible how long some of the pieces went for but we simply couldn’t afford any of it at the time. The tea was prepared from a central, raised platform in a courtyard area of the building and was both fascinating to watch and gorgeous to drink. Naturally, some Americans asked for coffee because that’s what they do. I don’t recall if coffee was available but I’d like to think it wasn’t.

We then had a photo stop down by the shoreline giving us lovely views over the somewhat muddied waters around Nha Trang. A small shelter held a tiled whale motif but the reason for its presence escapes me.

From the shore we headed to Po Nagar, a Cham temple tower rising high over Nha Trang. The tower complex was dotted with sculptures of various forms and with musicians entertaining the visitors as well as trying to earn some money, naturally.

From Po Nagar we could see across the water to the marketplace where we would next be heading.

We walked along the bridge over the Cai River towards a marketplace area for a little bit of shopping. It was here that I engaged in some actual haggling and bought a bottle of some bizarre alcohol with a scorpion in it for my brother. The bottle leaked a little bit on the journey home with us but he still went ahead and drank it, didn’t go blind, and still lives to this day.

Our penultimate stop was at the Long Son Pagoda which sat at the base of a 152 step climb to the Hai Duc Pagoda and its impressive, white, concrete Buddha. As I recall only about ten of us from the full coach made the walk to the top to take in the view not only of the statue and its reclining version halfway up but also of Nha Trang. I appreciate that 152 steps in high humidity is a challenge for some people but more than ten should have attempted it especially if you’re going to travel around the world to visit a place.

We finished our day in Nha Trang with a meal in a restaurant accompanied by traditional Vietnamese music.

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