Day 6 in Vietnam
03.27.2015 - 03.27.2015 97 °F
Turns out, only short people sleep well on sleeper trains. While Maggie, Cary, and I slept fine, Rick couldn't stretch out on the short beds and was a bit miserable in the morning. Not to mention the train arrived in Nha Trang at 5:30am. What a morning.
We got off the train and caught a taxi to a hotel we had booked for the sole reason of having a home base in Nha Trang for the day. As our travel plans had us arriving in Nha Trang at 5:30am and leaving via another sleeper train at 9:30pm, there was really no need for a hotel; however, we had our heavy backpacks that we had to leave somewhere for the day while we visited the local waterpark. So, while in the Mekong Delta, I had booked a local cheap-o hotel to ditch our bags for the day (cost=$10). We just hoped that they would let us check in early. Really early.
After a first failed attempt at finding the hotel by the cab driver (at which we unloaded our bags, figured out it was the wrong hotel, and reloaded again), we found the right place - down a dark alley where honestly you would expect to find a $10 hotel. The cab driver let us out on the street and told us to take a right at the T and keep walking. We showed up and found closed iron gates. Not good, as I had booked that hotel based on Expedia information that the hotel had 24 hour service.
So, we knocked on the gates.
Somebody opened them and we walked in. The somebody walked off, and we found a sleeping dude in the corner. We woke him up, and in a daze, he handed us a key. We hoped it was to our room.
We walked up four flights of stairs with our backpacks and found ourselves in a dingy, crappy room with an equally crappy view. I guess you get what you pay for! Maggie and I took a nap while Cary played his iPad and Rick took a shower in preparation for the water park, and we were off.
We had lunch (breakfast?) in a little local restaurant down the street. The food was good, and we ordered more than we could eat.
We asked the waiter how far it was to walk to Vinpearl (the water park)? He said 1km, 5 minutes. So we thought, great! We'll walk! We left the restaurant excited about our day with the kids at the water park.
As 1km turned into 3km and into 5km, things got a little less exciting. Still, we were able to see some really cool things on the strip.
After a while, we gave in and hailed a taxi to take us the rest of the way (maybe another 5km?). After getting out of the taxi, the taxi driver told Rick (through limited English) that he didn't have change for his 500 dong bill, and the taxi drive ended up costing us $20. In Vietnamese money, that equals "ouch". Oh well. After the walk we had been on, it was probably worth it. I was starting to blister from my flip flops.
So, we got more money out of the ATM and headed to Vinpearl. The first part of the journey entails taking a cable car to Vinpearl Island, which is apparently the longest oversea cable car in the world. Or Southeast Asia. Or something. Whatever it is, it was beautiful.
After getting off the cable car, we were at the park. The park consists of several parts - a water park, an amusement park (more fair rides than anything), an arcade (where all games are free), and an aquarium. We headed for the water park, because it was unbelievably hot already at 10am.
I had warned Maggie on the way there that this was not likely to be comparable to Holiday World. After all, Vietnam is not the cleanest place in the world, and the construction standards are not like what you would find in the US or Europe. However, I was completely wrong. This place was awesome. It was clean, well laid out, and had great water slides. Additionally, we were lucky as there was basically nobody else at the park, so we had the entire place to ourselves.
We headed straight for the kids pool where Cary could swim. Cary had a blast on the little water slides there. The construction of the place was a bit odd though, as they had decided to tile the bottom of the pool with all smooth tiles which were very slippery under your feet. Cary, therefore, had to be watched constantly to ensure he didn't slip and go under. Thankfully there were child-sized life vests available for use.
Rick watched Cary for a bit while Maggie and I hit some of the bigger slides. However, there were no transportation means to get the tubes up to the top, so you had to carry them yourselves. Maggie and I had a hell of a time getting them up 7 flights of stairs. Not to mention the stairs were constructed of these odd grates that dug at your feet. Note to self: wear sandals!
After a while, we went back to let Rick have a turn on the fun slides. I watched Cary while Maggie and Rick took off for the fun stuff. Cary had a route down of walking up one water slide and coming down while I waited at the bottom to catch him. All was fine until he fell running back to the stairs for the slide, and then he started crying. I distracted him with Pringles for a while, until I saw Maggie and Rick approaching. Maggie had a bag of ice on her head, and Rick was limping. Uh oh. Come to find out they had been flipped off their tube in the middle of a slide - Maggie had hit her head, and Rick had two broken toes. Ouch.
Given our newfound injuries, we decided to take it easy for a while and visit the beach. We headed there and quickly found a bunch of lounger chairs under an umbrella. Score! I got some beers for us while Rick built a sand castle with Cary.
After a while, someone came around and motioned for us to move further down the beach. They were exploding dynamite into the hillside to expand the park. The whole ordeal lasted about 30 minutes, with everyone confused on what was going on. During this time we realized we were the only Americans in the park. Mostly everyone else seemed to be... Russian, maybe?
We spent the rest of the afternoon at the beach, as we were having so much fun and it was so beautiful. A completely perfect day! As the day came to a close, though, we decided to see a bit more of what the park had to offer. We stopped for lunch and then ventured into the aquarium, which was small but really cool. They had a moving sidewalk that you could take through a tunnel with glass walls of the aquarium. From there, you could observe all the fish, sharks, stingrays, turtles, etc. in the aquarium.
When we got out of the tunnel, there was an exhibit going on where a scuba diver was inside the tank and feeding the fish. We got some up-close pictures of the stingrays. It was cool.
After that, we headed up to the amusement park, which was right by the cable car entry. We only had a half hour left before we had to leave, and the line was crazy. We tried to go on a few rides, but the ones we tried to visit were all "on break". Maggie was able to ride one before leaving, but we then had to get the heck out to get our bags.
We rode the cable car back and got a taxi back to the hotel. Much cheaper this time. We then got another taxi back to the train station. By now, Cary was beat (read: asleep), and the rest of us were starting to realize we were crispy critters from the sun. I had two blisters from my flip flops. Rick's toes were still broken. We were a mess, and miserable as hell when we got to the train station. We were also very unhappy that this leg of the train journey (another overnighter) had us on "hard sleepers" as opposed to the now-familiar soft sleepers, with 6 berths (read: roommates) instead of 4. The train station was a low point for us for sure.
Once getting on the train, we realized that the hard sleepers were not that bad. They did only have thin cushions as opposed to mattresses, and we did have Vietnamese roommates who kept the damned door open all night, but honestly we were so exhausted we could care less. We quickly fell asleep amid the craziness.