Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Nha Trang, Vietnam

Nha Trang 1/11/16

Second stop in Vietnam. This port was added at short notice when Thailand was cancelled a couple weeks before the cruise. Because of the late addition, the one dock was occupied by a Holland America ship and ours had to anchor out in the water. We took a 15 minute tender to shore from the ship. 

The day's weather was hot and humid as usual, the sun reflecting off everything. We did not book a tour for Nha Trang, opting to figure it out when we got there. On the tender ride over, we made friends with a couple from Armenia and we all decided to share a taxi ride (maybe tour?) around town.

When we walked up to the taxi drivers all waiting, some complicated bartering happened that none of us could really keep track of. Possibly a dispute of who had dibs on us, or maybe the rate we had brought down....we will never know. There was ten minutes of loud talking and gesturing within them. We all ended up on a large taxi with a driver who spoke as much English as we spoke Vietnamese. 

Definitely a different experience this time.

This city felt a lot different than Saigon; I did not see any signs in English, or a single western store or fast food place--nothing. 

First stop: Long Son Pagoda, founded in the 19th century. Because I was in a tank and shorts, they had coverings for us to borrow in order to go inside the temple. Beautiful place, as always.

Look a temple library.

The second part of the attraction was the huge Buddha on a lotus, on top of the hill. It was only 152 steps up there. (Nothing compared to the 1700 steps to Dracula's castle in the Transylvanian jungle. Tessa will remember that.)

Next, countryside tour! We didn't know exactly what this meant either. But, we went with it. Our car passed through flooded rice paddies and other crops. 

Then, our driver drops us off at a seemingly random spot at the edge of the road. Hmm. Okay. *points, gestures* but we shrug. Um. Take pictures of the rice? Oh a path? Let's follow that. 

Now comes the super awkward part. We are walking, and looking at things, taking pictures of chickens...and then porches...and then we realize...we are sort of in people's front doorways aaaand then it ends. A few locals are hanging out and watching us, probably slightly entertained and weirded out at our presence on their property. They speak no English. Awkward smiles all around, so we turn back about half way, and a lady has her front gate partially open, and she is almost sort of kind of welcoming us into her courtyard? We think? Eventually all six of us tumble through. And she's opening her arms like "please, look around my front yard and porch and in my house!" So. Well. We do.

I've never felt so awkward in my entire life. I took a couple pictures, but really felt it wasn't my place to. All said and done, we were not sure that was where our tour was supposed to go. Mostly we looked around slowly, smiling at her, she smiling at us, a complete language barrier almost visible. Will she make us tea? Where is the rest of her family? Why does she want us to sit at her stone porch table for five minutes?   

I took a picture of her kitchen, and her karaoke room...? And then I scrambled out of there back to our driver waiting along the main road. Without preamble he opens the door, we pile in, and we're off to the next stop.

PoNagar Cham Towers built between 8th and 12th centuries on a site used for Hindu worship. Dollar admission. I'm a big fan of the admission prices here. Again had to borrow coverings, but they had funny signs this time.


These towers were on a hill overlooking the Cai River, also quite a sight:

And then we visited some rocks famous for having a six fingered hand you're supposed to rub for having children but we just walked around. Then I dipped my feet into the South China Sea. Overall it was very underwhelming experience, but only a dollar admission again, so who's to complain.

Drying shrimp things.

Last stop!
Dam Market. So far the biggest market we have been to. First we accidentally walked through the seafood drying areas, gross. So I held my breath as we navigated to the fruits and then trinkets areas.

We ate some more yummy fruits and had another delicious coconut. I'll miss all these cool fruits.

Lingon berry

tiny bananas super yellow in the inside too.

Roshani is a badass haggler and we bought a dress that will hopefully fit me. ($7)

Found some small knickknacks...

And then. I accidentally bought a jade bracelet. Now, my memory is fuzzy at this point because everything happened so fast. Roshani and I were looking at the jade and other jewelry at a stall, just checking it out, and I was pretty sure I wanted to get one. The lady got a few out and tried to put one over my wrist but it was a little too small to go over my hand. Oh darn. Huh, whats she doing? Talking with her fellow stall women. Telling us how much it is? Nah, but none fit remember. Now one lady is gesturing to me and has a bottle of lotion and oh no why has she commandeered my hand lathering it with lotion uh she took the bracelet out and ah three women are trying to put this jade bracelet past my knuckles no it's not going these women are strong shit my hand hurts and Roshani is looking at all of us in horror unable to do anything aaaand it's on. 

What the fuck just happened.

So that's how I accidentally bought a jade bracelet. And it's never coming off. My hand it still bruised, two days later. I'm only partially sure no bones were broken. I felt like this was my Asian rite of passage. I think I passed.

And now it's a very entertaining story.

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