Travelling South from Hoi An, our next stop on our Vietnamese voyage was Nha Trang-a popular SCUBA diving destination, as well as being a big hit with Russian tourists. Certainly it’s quite odd to be in a place where Russian is the second language you find on signage and menus!
If you’re looking to find deserted beaches and a sleepy seaside town, then Nha Trang isn’t where you’re going to find it! More like Vietnam’s own version of Miami, it’s dominated by huge hotel resorts and busy beaches-as well as having the worlds longest cable car over sea leading out to the island resort of Vinpearl-the Vietnamese equivalent to Alton Towers.
It wasn’t exactly what we were expecting, but we were there to find out a bit more about the SCUBA diving opportunities, and so made a beeline for the highly recommended Rainbow Divers. Promptly enough we were booked onto a try dive, and had our first taste of diving in Vietnam. It was absolutely superb-but further details will be covered in a later blog post, as we return for our PADI Open Water Course later on our trip.
Other than the beach, diving and the shops and restaurants, there isn’t a huge amount to explore in Nha Trang. It’s very much about the beach and a lot of sun worshipping-obviously that’s not at the top of my list when it comes to things to do! One top recommendation that we did find in Lonely Planet came in the form of Long Thanh photography studio.
His black and white photos of Vietnamese life are absolutely incredible, and have won many international awards. The reason why it needs noting is that it has had a very obvious effect on my own photography efforts, and from this point onwards you shall see more black and white photos included in my posts.
You can check out his work on his website; Long Thanh Gallery
Like a kid with a new toy, as soon as we stepped outside of the gallery I was trying my hand at some B&W photography!
On wandering the beach front we did stumble upon quite a grand building that prompted further investigation, and it turned out to be the recently opened Nha Trang Water Puppet Theatre. Not actually being aware of what water puppetry is, a little research uncovered the fact that it’s actually a tradition that dates back to the 11th century in Northern Vietnam. It originated when the rice fields would flood and villagers would entertain each other using puppet play. Nowadays the performances take place on a stage which is a 4m square waist deep pool, the puppets are made of wood and then lacquered, supported on large rods under the water, and controlled by a team of puppeteers in waders hidden behind a large screen. During the performance the puppets appear to float on the surface of the water.
Obviously we had to go along and see what it was all about, and it was a right giggle. To be honest the content of the show was probably beyond us a little, it was a series of Vietnamese folk stories depicting local Vietnamese life. With no narrative to follow or accompanying explanations we were hard pressed to figure out the gist of the stories-but certainly that didn’t prevent us from taking immense pleasure in the performance!
Up against a deadline to get to Ho Chi Minh to meet a friend from our time in Vientiane, our time in Nha Trang was brief, but we would return…..More of that later.