Observations of a Vietnam holiday

There’s so much I observed and want to share with you!

Here is more or less a stream of thoughts from my last day in Nha Trang (and two days before our holiday was due to end).   Sadly many of the random thoughts don’t have photos – sorry! So random holiday photos are mixed in wherever! More posts on packing, what I wore and what I bought to come though.

Flowers every where!

Flowers every where!

Like Nha Trang’s second language (after ‘Vietnamese’) would have to be Russian! There are SO many Russians, and so often we were handed the menu in Russian, and as we said ‘thank you’ they whipped it out of our hands to bring us another menu!

Full face mask, and hoodie despite the heat (to prevent tanning or the fumes)

Full face mask, and hoodie despite the heat (to prevent tanning or the fumes)

Women really cover up when scootering or bike riding – including the most amazing face masks. You can also buy long gloves, to protect ones fingers and lower arms. And there are even nude coloured sock (with a gap for the part of the shoe that goes between the big toe and the other toes). Seems getting any darker is NOT ok!!

Not the common cafe, but the upmarket 'Western' style NY Dessert Cafe.  All the decor was so thought out

Not the common cafe, but the upmarket ‘Western’ style NY Dessert Cafe. All the decor was so thought out

There’s a very strong ‘café’ culture here (Vietnam). Seriously, we went to a few nice shady tree covered cafes and struggled to find food – though there was lots of cake, so I never went hungry! Seems the BF has less of a sweet tooth, or is already enacting some of our diet plans for when we get home. There’s no end to variation of juices and smoothies – every fruit, with milk, yoghurt, ice cream, combinations. Almost every menu included variations with strawberries, and whilst I love strawberries, I seldom actually saw any for sale at stalls. And the few strawberries that did feature on the top of Tiramisu or Cheesecake, certainly looking a little… seasick? Passion fruit and pineapple, however, were for sale everywhere, and gosh darn, delicious too! As were lemon or lime juice – which is a misnomer, there’s nothing Vietnamese like more than sugar, so the above juices were mainly sweet, usually with a salty tang. I just love fresh lime or lemon juice like this!

This family of four stopped to look at the Halloween costumes at the restaurant we were leaving, and so I asked to take their photo! They were more than happy to be in my tourist snap!

This family of four stopped to look at the Halloween costumes at the restaurant we were leaving, and so I asked to take their photo! They were more than happy to be in my tourist snap!

Days are long when you’re on holidays with no commitments, and I think I realise how much ‘dithering’ occurs in a holiday with a family of five. We may not think of our family as patient, but I think we most certainly are! The schedule I shared with you for family holidays certainly still left lots of empty time for the BF and I. I was more than happy to while away countless hours of TV and reading, but given wifi was only in public areas in the Sheraton (for us lowly people who are not ‘Club’ members), there was only so much reading for him – most of his reading is on the tablet, and usually emails (I think… and some news).

Need a mattress?  Taken from The Watering Hole (a pub)

Need a mattress? Taken from The Watering Hole (a pub)

Therefore, there were more ‘activities’ than usual. Happy hour was often out at a bar – classy places like ‘The Drinking Hole’ and ‘Booze Cruise’ – places that offered free shots after a certain time, and free cocktails for ladies at other times!!! And let me tell you, alcohol is ridiculously priced. It seems the locals steer pretty clear of it, but a wayward team would have a field day here! Honest to goodness, in a market stall out of a tourist area you can buy a bottle of Gordon’s Gin (the BF’s chosen poison) for approximately $9! Compare than to $45 at least in Sydney. There was even a cocktail called the ‘Fish Tank’ which included a bottle (yes, a BOTTLE) of gin, vodka and rum! We actually wondered how you would drink it all before it got hot! Are there insulted glass holders for things that big!?

Inside the markets at Ho Chi Minh City!

Inside the markets at Ho Chi Minh City!

If there's Chinglish, is there Vinglish?

If there’s Chinglish, is there Vinglish? Just what is Union Rice?

Other activities we enjoyed were playing pool – I certainly had some lucky breaks, as I don’t really have a born talent at pool! Thankfully, the BF won. He likes to win. I won one game, thanks to him sinking the white ball when all he had left was the 8 ball. Interestingly, we saw a lot of snooker and pools halls (well, noticeably a few, whereas I can’t recall otherwise ever really seeing them anywhere). They seem to be a haunt mostly for men, though when we played at about 6pm, we were the only ones in a room of at least 12 tables. The staff were all women, and all… provocatively dressed. I started to wonder whether I was the usual clientele! I did observe that I felt more comfortable in a country where women can dress like this, that I too can wear shorts or short skirts – comparing it to my visits in the middle east, where I continually wonder if I’m doing something risqué or ‘wrong’.

This is me in a SHORT skirt.  But the photo was the capture the gorgeous colour of the uniforms, and the lovely colour of the planes (a teal).  Hands down my favourite plane colour scheme!

This is me in a SHORT skirt. But the photo was the capture the gorgeous colour of the uniforms, and the lovely colour of the planes (a teal). Hands down my favourite plane colour scheme!

We enjoyed a day at the mud bath – another very popular activity for the Russians, who seemed to arrive by the bus load! Like most of Nha Trang, the mud spa seemed big enough for many more guests than it was accommodating. For $15 we got entry and a mud bath, so hot and cold outdoor showers, and then some cool and warm pools. When I say ‘some’ it was really more extensive than that! There were countless pools – ones with artificial water falls, some with jets of water, others with slides, a large, shallow circular pool with a large covered perimeter with lounges, then pools more organically shaped with sandy peripheries and more lounges! There was of course the full suite of massage and spa services available, although at a far less competitive price to what’s available on the streets in ‘town’. Nonetheless, it was a well organised system – carefully handing in your valuables which were placed in a plastic bag to be entombed in sticky tape – ensuring that you’d notice any tampering. You were then led into a change room area, given a towel and a key, and if you didn’t have a swim suit, you could borrow one of their rather dashing suits (tongue firmly in cheek there!). The key corresponded to a locker, which was naturally of a woven fibre, and there were countless change rooms around the outer edge of the change area, large enough for one, with a curtain for modesty. The whole system was very well thought out! As the change rooms were in an arc, men to one side, women to the other, you exited to meet one another and follow a path to the mud bath area. Sadly I took hardly any photos as my phone was entombed in the plastic. Others did take their tablets from pool to pool to take photographs, but it did seem a little perilous with all the mud!!

The reflective pool in the middle of the circular change rooms for the mud baths

The reflective pool in the middle of the circular change rooms for the mud baths

I think the towel colours related to the service level you got - which package of spa/mud etc  Such an organised system!

I think the towel colours related to the service level you got – which package of spa/mud etc Such an organised system!

Any clues on what “Union Rice” is?

This entry was posted in Travel, Vietnam

14 Responses

  • Oh…the mud bath almost makes me want to go to Vietnam specifically for that! Can you imagine how much that kind of thing would cost here in Australia? Would never do a "Spa Day" here but I would love to do one for only $15!

    Love the bike with the mattress – I wish I could see how he's rigged that up underneath!

    I'm wondering if the 'Union Rice' is something to do with weddings? As in, "union" = "wedding" and "union rice" = "wedding rice"? Some wedding reception venues ban confetti but allow people to throw rice instead. It's possible – lol!!!

    Reply
    • Exactly! It was incredibly cheap entry for a mud bath, and if only I'd not packaged up my phone safely, I'd have photographed all the elaborate slides, water falls and pools they had! It was just lovely, all for $15!

      I wished I'd got the guys on a push bike with a door – this guy has one of the tourist bikes, which have a bit of a sitting platform which it looks like he leaned the mattress on.

      I like you theory on union = wedding! Very well done! we couldn't work it out, despite regularly walking past it!

      Reply
  • Hi Sarah, glad to see you had fun. My husband travels all over the world, and tries to fit in a day or two on an island off Vietnam as often as he can. He loves Vietnam, and would love to spend lots of time there, and take me one day.. when I feel like I can leave the children and actually get on a plane! I hate flying. A lot.

    Reply
    • Oh Jo! You don't like flying? It gets me visibly excited (and I'm a cool cucumber!) I sat next to someone like you from Newark to LAX and we're now friends (I must remember to send her a Christmas card). She was only flying for a funeral, but when we were delayed on the tarmac, she wanted to ask to get off the plane! She was travelling with two sons and her husband – can you imagine the plane's reaction if she'd gone nuts! She turned out ok in the end – I spent a LOT of time reassuring her and distracting her!

      I'm not sure I'd say I LOVE Vietnam, but it was nice. It helps that it's cheap there, so you can live like a king! I can see why people would think about retiring there – but you'd have to have a GREAT air conditioner :p

      Reply
  • Thanks for sharing, Sarah.

    Love how the parents on the bike are wearing helmets but not the kids! Love your child, just not as much as you love your own head?

    There's a lot of plastic in the photo of the markets! Wonder if they care about rubbish that doesn't break down?

    Reply
    • When my parents visited Vietnam a little while ago, they'd just rolled out the law about helmets (which I believe they call 'accident insurance'). Anyhow, i can only imagine it's only law for adults, as we often saw even BABIES on scooters, and without anything on their head. Interestingly, we only saw one scooter on it's side, weirdly on the pavement, so we're not sure what happened, but people stopped to help him, so that's a start.

      You're right – so much was plastic wrapped – I have no idea where it goes, they keep it far enough from this watchful tourist's eye!

      Reply
  • The spa looks like a lot of fun 🙂

    That's crazy that the Sheraton didn't have wifi in the rooms. Every guesthouse I stayed in in Thailand had free wifi in the rooms (even the one that was $17 a night). Maybe the hotels are slow to catch up!

    Reply
    • I think the Sheraton has wifi in 'club' rooms, and I think they try to lure you to be a club member… It's all part of the strategy! But it's ok to have it in common areas, like the pool and the foyer, it keeps those places with people in them, I suppose. Before this holiday I read something that said that all mid to low range hotels off free wifi, only high end places in Asia still (try to) charge.

      Reply
  • I'm glad you included a picture of yourself, Sarah – it would be great to be on a vacation where you could wear summery casual clothes! I would never have guessed about Russian language and culture in Vietnam. I would love a mud bath! One thing I am wondering about your trip, if you are comfortable sharing, is how you fared as a couple with 24/7 togetherness and making decisions about what to see and do. Vacations are so different from day-to-day life and sometimes they bring out tensions, along with relaxing times!

    Reply
  • The mud bath sounds really interesting! I don’t think your skirt in that picture is too short. Most of my shorts are like that but then again, that’s kind of the norm here. I played pool with the boyfriend recently and it didn’t go too well. I am not very good! Interesting cultural observations here though.

    Reply
    • The mud bath was a great experience, I'm so glad we made the effort to go.

      I have two skirts that are that length, the BF prefers the denim one (actually he found it in the suitcase whilst getting my clothes for the flight home, and layed it out saying 'I haven't seen you wear those short denim shorts' which I told him were a skirt and in fact i HAD worn it!! But I wore it to the airport and on the first flight to stay cool and keep him happy :p).

      I wasn't great at pool, but I had some lucky breaks and it was something different to pass the time.

      Reply
  • Being a German/Irish woman I am very pale-skinned and would do anything to tan better. Is the practice of covering up to prevent tanning or concerns of skin cancer? That reflecting pool is amazing. I had never considered wanting to visit Vietnam, until now. Your pictures captured a beautiful place with happy friendly people. I love the colors of the plane and uniforms how different. Oh and that man transporting the mattress…..I need to make something useful like that for myself. 🙂

    It sounds like you had a lovely time, what destination is next on your list?

    Reply
    • You and me both on the tanning front! I actually paid to be spray tanned before the holiday – it gives me so much more confidence when I'm all bronzed (without the negative effects of the sun exposure). I think the Vietnamese, like the Thais, just prefer pale skin, rather than the health components, but I didn't actually ask anyone in Vietnam!

      I'm honoured that my camera phone photos have inspired you to consider Vietnam when you otherwise hadn't – that's a true compliment! The plane is just my favourite, so I was bubbling when I got to get a photo – so unlike me to take a 'touristy' photo like that!

      I was flirting with Copenhagen, as there's 'cheap' fares (cheaper than usual), and tack on a trip to Paris this time next year, but the website for the sale is misbehaving! So I'll wait for another sale or promo. Truth be told, if a deal is good, I might change my mind and go there instead – my guide is somewhere new and different as part of any holiday (even if I revisit favourite cities in the same trip)

      Reply


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