A Mad Week in Vietnam

I’m ticking off Asian nations one by one, and this winter break Vietnam was next in line. I was lucky enough to travel with two good friends, and we decided to spend a week relaxing in Nha Trang, doing a couple nights in a cheap local hotel, and splurging the last three nights with a stay at Novotel.

We started our trip in lovely Hanoi

I’m more of a hostel traveler myself, but it was pretty fun to stay in a really nice hotel room, ordering room service, lounging by the pool, playing the ukulele on our private seaview balcony, and just generally over-indulging in some ultimate relaxation. I wouldn’t normally stay in a nice hotel on my own, so it was great to be able to share that experience with friends.

 Our balcony view at the Novotel

So, how was Vietnam? Loads of fun, food, and drunken shenanigans mostly. I did manage to get my bag stolen at the beach with my Nikon in it. At this point, I’ve been pick-pocketed so often I leave everything in the hotel room so I got really lucky. The fuckers who snatched my bag may have gotten my camera, but that was it. Money, cards, passport, iPhone, sunglasses, earbuds, etc. was all back in my hotel room. Of course there was the initial feeling of being violated, and becoming suspicious of everyone I encountered in the street for a day or two, but it was a swift recovery. For the record, I heard loads of stories and met many traveler who had been robbed in Nha Trang, so it’s something to keep in mind if you are traveling in Vietnam. Beware the bandits!

At least they didn't get my ukulele...

We did some really cool activities in Nha Trang, like a cooking class and a trip to the mud baths and hot springs. I make a mean mackerel claypot, by the way. I also got to jump off a 7 meter waterfall, which was a highlight of the trip for me. Us three girls also made friends with a trio of Australian soldiers that were willingly along for the ride of late night shisha and tearing up the dance floor at the sleaziest bar in town, which made for some very good photos that were robbed from me in an untimely manner by the dirty beach bandits. Other than said dirty beach bandits, the Vietnamese people were SO friendly and kind. It reminded me of Albania- at first, you think everyone is trying to scam you but then you realize that they are just that nice. Weird.

Feeling fresh after a soak in the mud baths

Hiking around the jungle 

Jumping off a 7 meter waterfall

For me, travel in Asia is all about the food. Taiwan was a blur of beef noodle, street sausage, dumplings, and mango shaved ice. Vietnam was a blur of pho, fresh spring rolls, sugar cane pork, claypot, and pomelo salad. In fact, Vietnam could possibly be the best food country I’ve ever been to. Every meal was an experience, and even the most lackluster run-of-the-mill quick bite on the road was an explosion of flavors. Overall, Vietnam was stupidly cheap, easy to get around, welcoming, and generally awesome. I’ve only been to Hanoi and Nha Trang, so I could easily be convinced to go back and spend more time in Vietnam.

The cooking class at Lanterns in Nha Trang 
was one of my favorite parts of the trip

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