Mark and Mika Take on the WORLD!!! travel blog

Ah, perfect water temperature - 75 degrees

Beachside park in Nha Trang


Floating bar

Nha Trang is a large, up and coming beach city. As we had taken yet another sleepless night bus to get here, we were starving upon our arrival at 6:00 AM in the morning. Already the pulse of the city was racing. Little food stands lived the busy streets, serving soups and rice dishes to the masses. This is the typical scene in every city we've visited in Vietnam so far. No cereal here. Every dish is made fresh from ingredients straight from the garden. Anyhow, we set down, bleary eyed, to dine on a most delicious tasting fish soup. The broth was fish flavored, and also added were bits of pork meat (fat included) and big meatballs of crushed crab. And we do mean "crushed" crab. We've witnessed countless times, women and men taking crabs from a bucket and mashing them up with a broad-faced hammer. Luckily, they are small critters (the kind you see running around the sand) so the shells are pretty soft and easy to chew.

After our delightful meal (50 cents), we walked down to the beach to see what was what. The sand was very fine, and the water spectacular. During the three days we spent here, we routinely stayed in the water from an hour at a time. Only the fierce sun drove us out, so that we could slather ourselves with even more sunscreen. We think the outside temperature was in the mid 90's and the water temperature, around 75. The beach front was very developed, but in a very tasteful way. Parks, open courtyards, and beautiful landscape lined the beach. Our first thought was that we were in Ft. Lauderdale, and this is the first moment we thought it might be a nice idea to buy a beach house in this, Mika's home country. But, we may not be able to by a house here, as evident everywhere we go, there are still Communist propaganda signs lining the roadsides. These colorful posters typically portray Uncle Ho (Ho Chi Minh) watching over his people as they build and harvest for the good of the common man. In reality, Vietnam is now a free market economy and has been for the last 13 years. Communism just does not work, at least not the Marxist idea. Anyway, this is bad and good for us. Good because prices ar unbelievably low. One local told us that to build a house near the ocean would set us back a whopping 5,000 dollars. The unfortunate side of this idea is that we will have to wade through a boatload of red tape in order to become owners of any beachside property, as there is yet no law allowing foreigners to own property here. At this stage, it is still just an appetizing thought.

For two days, we relaxed under large thatched umbrellas whilst reading and studying Spanish. On our third day, we took a boat trip to the outlying islands to enjoy a change in scenery for only 6 bucks per person. Mark was excited about the prospects of going snorkeling, especially since we really haven't done much of that during our entire world trip. As it turns out, it became quite a challenge to snorkel since there was no way to attach your snorkel to your mask. We had to hold them by hand and we received no fins. Plus, the scenery was beautiful. Mark was stubborn as ever and was out there for the full hour alotted, when everyone else on board gave up the idea of snorkeling just after 10 minutes of struggling with the bad gear - but hey, what can you expect for 6 bucks in a communist country? The boat took us from one island to the next (4 in all) and we enjoyed all the "silliness" of the Vietnamese. Some of the wild entertainment included in our ticket price was singing Karaoke along with the Vietnamese boy band, dancing on table tops, and enjoying the "floating bar" which was basically our tour guide hooked up to a bouey serving several glasses of wine out in the water. We could totally see how Mika's quirky mother would fit into this crowd - and all those years we wondered why she was so weird and where she got her sense of humor. Now it's clear as day. In the States, everyone that meets Mika's mom would agree she has a personality of a cartoon character. Well, if they could be here, they would understand that this country is full of cartoon characters and she's not so strange after all.

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