Another early rise and a taxi to the train station. Saigon station is tiny and ridiculously busy. Though the helpful staff directed us to the right platform, and we quickly ran across the tracks to our train. The trains in Vietnam look as though they are over 100 years old, and wouldn’t carry you from Leeds to York never mind the 433km to Nha Trang. The train had many carriages, ranging from hard sleeper to soft seat. Soft seat is where we wanted to be, so we walked to the front of the train to look for our seats. Carriage 1 was where our seats were located and first we had to tackle the tiny doorway with our huge backpacks, lucky for me some nice local lady held the door open as wide as it would go so I could wedge my way through. Next was locating our seats, the carriage had both an upstairs and a down, we were down and facing backwards, bleurgh!! All the seats were leather and reclined back as far as they would go, imagine sitting in a dentists chair for 8 hours and you’ll come pretty close to what it was like. Once the train set off, Vietnamese music was blasted into the carriage, which is not dissimilar to Khmer karaoke. It was bloody awful, thankfully they only played 2 songs after each station.
The train took us through Ho Chi Minh city, where we went across the middle of highways and down the backstreets of peoples houses, it was crazy seeing all the mopeds lined up waiting to cross the train lines. Next we went through the countryside, and in-between rice fields, mountains, little wooden homes and huge farmlands. Kyle caught some shut eye but I was too busy watching the changing scenery along the way. Our carriage was located next to the food car, this looked like an American diner with a service bar and white leather seats with tables in-between. So once Kyle woke I sent him off for some food, and was secretly praying that it would be better than the ‘meal’ which we got on the train in China. To our surprise it was really nice, and for less than $4 we both enjoyed an iced coffee and an omelette with rice.
4 hours in and I needed to pee, there was no way I could wait 8 hours so I had to man up and go on the train. It was a nightmare, yes the toilet was Western, but it was built into a huge step which you had to climb up and then squat over so you didn’t hit your head! It reminded me of the toilets at a festival, with a plank over a hole and a seat on top. I felt like a bit of a tit when I climbed out and noticed a normal toilet in front of me, mind…at least I know for next time.
Now, I’m sure that me and Kyle don’t always smell so fresh. I mean it’s hot all the time and carrying big backpacks makes it worse, but we try our best to keep the stinky pits at bay, it’s a shame that other travellers don’t have the same decency. At station 3 of 4, two other backpackers boarded the train and they smelt like they hadn’t washed for 5 months! It was disgusting, and we had to sit next to them for 2 hours. I don’t get how they couldn’t smell each other! Hopefully we won’t see them again.
Once we arrived in Nha Trang we were immediately overwhelmed by how commercial it is. Flashy lights, big hotels, chain restaurants and clothing stores line the streets. Driving down the main sea front reminded me of a European holiday destination, it’s completely filled with Western tourists, most of which are Russian. Complete with it’s own Hollywood sign on Vinpearl Island, where you can go to the waterpark and flashy beach resort…no thank you! However, we have been craving some beach time so we will of course make the most of it whilst we are here.
After we’d checked in we had a quick refresh and headed to the Night Market searching for some delicious street food. Turns out it wasn’t that kind of market, the stalls were filled with the usual tourists tat and there wasn’t a noodle in sight! I, however ended up with an ankle bracelet and a beach dress. It was really hard work to barter as most of the women won’t budge on the price and don’t care when you walk away. Kyle managed to knock a dollar off in one stall though!
For tea we went to Yen, a local restaurant recommended by our hotel. Everyones accommodation must recommend this place coz it was packed, though me and Kyle aren’t too sure why as the food wasn’t that great to be honest. The service was good mind, but I don’t think we’ll be rushing back anytime soon.
We had a great nights sleep and a lazy morning before heading to the beach. The beach is 6km long and covered in soft white sand, the sea is a beautiful clear blue and in the distance you can see the surrounding islands. Unlike our precious beach in Thailand, we have to share this one with thousands of other people and vendors trying to sell us sunglasses, paintings and steamed sea food. Spending most of the morning swimming in the sea was just what we needed, and we took a cooling break at lunch time to go find me some knickers. I don’t know if I’ve told you, but overtime we’ve handed in our laundry and lately my knickers have been going missing. A massive inconvenience and totally creepy if you ask me!
A lazy afternoon on the beach was followed with a foot massage. The first massage I have ever had, and quite possibly the last. For the most part the massage was good, but I just couldn’t relax, especially when it felt like she was tickling my toes and trying to realign my core by sticking a wooden pole on the pressure points of my feet. The highlight of my massage though was when she tried to rub my tattoos off, before asking me if they’d be there every day. But for less than $4 each we can’t complain, and our feet are definitely feeling better.
Whilst on the beach we’d seen them setting up for a Summer Beach Party later in the evening, so we dropped Linford and Rebecca a message to let them know that we were thinking of checking it out. At first we didn’t want to pay the $7 entrance fee, but once I heard we got free vodka I was in. The Sailing Club looks like something straight out of Marbs, beach beds, flashing lights and a pool with fire pits in the middle…good job we got free drinks coz we wouldn’t be buying anything else. We met up with the gang and tried to have a catch up over the loud music. They’d had a great day at Vinpearl island but were feeling tired after a day of running around in the sun.
We stayed on at the beach party to watch belly dancers and fire performers, after which some famous singer came on and the crowd went mental. I don’t understand why because she was shit, but they were going crazy, jumping up and down, throwing their hands in the air and dancing with the worst rhythm I’d ever witnessed! It was hilarious, I love a good Asian party. The final act was another famous DJ who we had never heard of, again his song choice was questionable so we headed back to the hotel.
The next morning we bought our favourite breakfast of fresh fruit smoothies and headed to the beach. When we arrived it was packed, there was more people than sea! Though after an hour most people started to leave as the heat was unbearable. Kyle reckons it has been one of the hottest days yet!
Tomorrow will see our final beach day, for 4 days anyway, before a night train to Hoi An. I’m not all that impressed, we could of flown there in an hour! Plus we left the booking too late so we’ll be in a hard sleeper…6 leather bunks with no door! We’re currently charging our iPods, searching for ear plugs and contemplating eye masks! I'm well chuffed though as I've managed to get the new Harry Potter on my kindle, that should keep me entertained! Here’s hoping it’s a smooth 10 hour journey!
Love Carrie xxx