The overnight bus journey from Hoi An was remarkably comfortable. We both had seats on the 'upper level' (the top bunk of bunk beds). The seats recline almost flat but they only incline to about 35 degrees so we had to lounge rather than sit unless we wanted to sleep. Our feet went into a cubbyhole under the chair in front and if you are under 170 cms tall, I reckon you could be very comfortable indeed. We both managed to sleep at least 7 hours of the 12 hour trip, we woke up bleary-eyed in the coastal town at 5.30 in the morning. As we drove parallel to the coastline, the rising sun turned the sky the colour of a peach Melba ice cream. The air was warm, the streets were all but deserted. As we walked to find our hotel, we passed a church, it was packed with people, leaving some of the congregation standing on the pavement. A hymn was being sung and we stopped just briefly on the other side of the road to listen.
As we sat in the patisserie waiting for our room to be made ready, three rats of progressively increasing size ambled passed, they gave us a glance to see if we had anything they wanted and carried on their way. The croissants were so tough, even the rats didn't want them.
The beach here is 6kms long, it's clean and very busy in parts. Under a coconut palm that lines the beach, numerous generations of a family relax. In the cool dappled light, they eat freshly boiled crabs and lobsters bought from a hawker, they play cards and drink the local beer. It's still the Tet holiday season and this scene is replicated under nearly every tree for a good kilometre, however a 10 minute walk further along the coast, the beach becomes almost deserted. The sea is a monster. The waves roar and crash onto the beach like its trying to destroy it. This makes for some terrifying but fun swimming, with hands gripping our swimwear, we ventured in. We got whiplash, we were tumbled heels over head and dumped onto the course sand, only to jump straight back in again laughing breathlessly.
Despite the roughness of the sea, Nha Trang is a hotspot for snorkelling and diving. We opted for snorkelling as the diving was priced per half hour rather than per dive and seemed expensive. We jumped on a boat with a group of 15 people and chugged out to Mon island, about an hours ride away. Off the coast, there are dozens of islands, many of which are home to fishing and fish farming communities.
The sea around Mon island couldn't have been more different to the surf by the mainland, the swell was gentle and the visibility under the water was superb. We had three opportunities to snorkel during the day, the array of life we saw more than matched any of the dives we've done. We saw a huge variety of tropical fish and coral and our tour guide was awesome at pointing out the more unusual species, some familiar others not so. A huge stonefish lounged motionless on the seabed, enormous 3 metre long sea worms that resembled poisonous sea snakes and the highly deadly, but exceptionally beautiful lion fish. The corals were no less impressive, giant, red and pincushion shaped or black with white blooms that swayed in the gentle current. Then there were the jellyfish that pulsated with light as the sun's rays penetrated through their blue speckled dome. It was such a privilege to be a brief part of their world.
Nha Trang town is set largely around a couple of square blocks, it's a tourist town and comprises of the usual mix of small restaurants, clothes shops and mini markets. But to our relief we were able to get our camera fixed, Jan wrote out our own receipt and made the guy sign and stamp it as he just wanted us to leave the camera with him and come back in a few hours. Needless to say when we went back he'd fixed it as good as new.
One more destination to go in Vietnam, the old southern capital, Ho Chi Minh city.