Nha Trang (My Parents’ Hometown)

Many Americans I know who have been to Vietnam often exhale a sigh of disdain when mentioning Nha Trang. “It’s too touristy,” they say. “It’s overrun with Russians,” they say. Although true facts, there is still more to Nha Trang (at least for me!). Over the past several years Nha Trang to Vietnam has become what Waikiki is to the U.S. Real estate has skyrocketed, the number of high-rise hotels have doubled since I was here 2 years ago, and there are even more hotels under construction. So why have we spent the majority of our time in Nha Trang so far? First of all, Nha Trang holds a special place in my heart. Both my parents grew up here! My mom’s old house is just a few minutes away from the beach, and all the “touristy stuff” has developed just a block away from her house. IMG_3136 IMG_3135 And second of all, since Nha Trang is now a tourist destination, there are many things to do, whether it’s simply relaxing on the beach, scoping out the many food carts/street food vendors (chè, corn, sữa đậu nành, sữa ngô, lots of bánh bao, mango carts, plenty of nước mía and sinh tố, etc.), riding a xích lô along the coast, getting a cheap 1 hour $8 massage, amongst other things. A lovely dinner of bò né (steak and eggs) over a sizzling plate, with french fries. 42,000 dong, or $2 USD each. IMG_3151 Sữa đậu nành (soy bean milk), to go, in little pouches. 5,000 dong, or 25 cents USD.IMG_3152 In addition to relaxing on the beaches and eating, there is plenty of DIVING! And I don’t mean skydiving…I mean SCUBA DIVING! Skydiving is difficult to come by in Southeast Asia, as the only drop zone in Southeast Asia is in Thailand. However, scuba diving is plentiful and top notch! Chris and I decided before the trip that we would complete our PADI certification in Nha Trang, and the next thing we knew, we ended up enrolling in the Advanced Open Water course (in preparation for our diving in Borneo next month)! Pictures from our PADI certification dives are below: DCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPRO We needed a break between the PADI Open Water certification and the Advanced Open Water course, so we took a day off to visit Vinpearl Land, a beach resort, amusement park, aquarium, and water park, all rolled into one on an island off of Nha Trang.  To get there, you either take a ferry (if you’re lame) or you ride the longest over-water gondola in the world (3.3 km)! IMG_3155IMG_3165 IMG_3158 IMG_3163 The first attraction I wanted to see was their famous aquarium which far exceeded my expectations since their exhibit had an underwater walkway similar to the one in the Monterey Bay Aquarium. IMG_3177IMG_3174 IMG_3187 Immediately after the aquarium, we excitedly scurried over to Vinpearl’s Water World. I must say the water slides were A HUGE BLAST – they probably would never exist in the U.S. because of how steep and fast they were. DCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPRO We spent the rest of the day at the beautiful, calm, clear water beach (steps away from the water park), the indoor arcade, and the amusement park. All that and the aquarium and world’s longest over-water gondola ride for $25 USD each? Worth it! Today we began the Advanced Open Water course. Three things we worked on were Peak Performance Buoyancy, Navigation (under water compass work), and Fish Identification. Tomorrow we will work on Deep Diving (up to 30m!) and Search & Recovery (looking for items on the ocean bottom and lifting them up to the surface). We are super excited to complete the course! To finish this post, I end with some photos from today’s dive. Enjoy! DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPRODCIM100GOPRO

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