Honestly, the book has been wrong about town after town through Vietnam. OK, it’s from 2005, and things have had nearly six years to change, but that’s neither here nor there. Nha Trang was supposed to be a town for epic beach parties, but we found the stretch of sand and its town relatively quiet and empty.
As a general rule, Asians don’t worship the sun as so many of us in the West do, and it was amazing to watch a nearly empty beach become packed shoulder to shoulder between 4 and 5 p.m. During these evening hours, kids outfitted in fluorescent life vests splashed in the water among men in trunks and women in full clothes. High school girls even allowed themselves to be thrown in (ahh high school) wearing their school clothes. The thought of walking home in wet, salty, sandy jeans makes me cringe.
We got up early one morning and raced to the beach to see the sun rise out of the sea. Children played in the calm pre-dawn water–it’s a mystery what they do during the heat of the day. We stayed out of the sun with the aid of a giant thatched umbrella, but somehow I still suffered a bit of a burn. Our patch of sun was a nice three-block trek from the center, enough to escape the gap-year kids, who undoubtedly give the town the reputation mentioned in the book. That left only the vendors to disturb our peace; they’d come through peddling cigarettes and Mentoes, postcards, jewelry, photocopied books, or paintings–never anything useful like sunscreen, water, or tuna sandwiches.
We stayed longer than expected in Nha Trang: the life was too comfortable. We ate well, mostly Indian food or Australian-style fish and chips, and we got some quality time with our dear friend, computer.