As I sit at Hanoi airport I notice something very apparent. When you are in the streets of Hanoi it is madness, I don’t know the death rate on the roads but I would guess it is very high. It really does defy belief that a country lets the roads operate in such an unsupervised and deadly manner. However, whenever you get inside a shop, a restaurant or an airport etc, then everyone slows down. No one rushes, the guy who was stood in front of me at check in didn’t have the slightest care in the world that he had been wasting time for almost 20 minutes – Not once did the thought that he might sort himself out then re queue enter his head. Saying that it didn’t enter the head of the woman at check in either.
Walking through the airport no one seemed to think that perhaps piling their bags up, rather than trying to break the world record for having the longest continuous line of luggage occur to anyone. And it’s the same in restaurants. Don’t expect for someone to come and see if you need another drink, or don’t expect any manners whatsoever, you could leave a million dong tip and from my experience at best you might get a grunt. Good service is certainly something I never experienced in Hanoi.
But I tell you what makes me laugh, loads of people walk round with face masks on – Obviously fearful for some airborne virus, which is fair enough. Yet those same people drive on roads more deadly than even those in Cairo and eat at places which could easily be passed off as bacterial breeding grounds.
Anyway, yesterday morning I went to pick up my laundry from the hotel and was told it was not ready and wouldn’t be until the afternoon, even though I had specifically asked that I would definitely be ready for the morning and was assured 100% it would. So wearing the same clothes and fuming we headed out for a taxi to go see Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum. I didn’t tell the kids because they were really looking forward to seeing Lenin in Moscow which never happened.
We turned up at the huge park where Ho Chi Minh lies in rest and dropped our bags off. The place is very militaristic and there are soldiers in pristine white immaculate uniforms all with their rifles and bayonets fitted. I have to say they looked very impressive, as did the exterior of the mausoleum, a huge marble tomb. The entrance is very well coordinated and along a red carpet you walk into the mausoleum, up some stairs and into a room. The silence is deafening, in the centre of a dark room is a glass cabinet dimply lit with a bed in it. In the bed lies Ho Chi Minh, covered up to his chest he lies with his hands on the cover. The kids were looking in awe; it is the first dead person they have seen. Around the glass cabinet on each corner is a Vietnamese soldier kneeled down with the huge duty of guarding the body of the most respected Vietnamese person to ever live.
I had told both kids just as were going on what they would say and made it explicitly clear that did they not wish to look they could turn away at any time and I would shield their view.
As it happens both kids really enjoyed the experience.
Afterwards we trawled the markets of Old Hanoi and then had an early night as we all looked forward to getting to the beach the following day.
The flight was a short 90 minutes and was on time, despite the age and state of the plane we landed safely in Nha Trang on schedule.
After collecting our luggage we walked into arrivals and were greeted by someone holding a card with my name on. He took us to the transport and about 20 minutes later we were at the resort. Set at the feet of mountains and on a white sandy bay the resort really is beautiful. Palm trees with Coconuts, tropical greenery and foliage litter the resort in such a natural way. We headed to the reception and like every other building it is made from wood, with a thatched roof and no walls, only blinds hand made from cane. A cocktail was handed to me and fruit juice to the kids. It was very welcome in the 34 degree dry arid heat. The first time we had escaped the humidity which we had been used to.
Before long we were into our skiddys and by the pool side. The pool really is something else, the kids absolutely loved it. Whilst the depth at one side was only 0.9m Abi was adamant she needed a life jacket and would just happily float around whilst Charlie just tried to perfect his swimming underwater. I did get them both an inflatable ball but in an almost divine sort of way whilst Charlie was playing with it a hole simply appeared. But the hole was so clever; it took on the form of teeth mark… But they weren’t Charles. No, the hole just simply appeared. Perhaps it was one of the fish in the pool? I mean I did count about none. Who knows?
The following day we saw some boats on the beach and decided to borrow one. We sailed about a half mile from shore to a little floating platform made from canes. On the platform was a rocking chair, the kids sat and relaxed whilst I was wondering how much better life can get. After a while a boat pulls up and 5 Vietnamese fishermen board the platform – which wasn’t really that big. Looking pissed right off they set up their fishing rods and started to fish. We got the hint and got in the boat. I don’t know if we annoyed them even more as we sailed away in absolute stitches.
The resort is about a fifteen minute journey from Nha Trang itself. Shuttle buses are provided. We went to town each day, mainly to try some local food or to at least do something in our days fill with nothing. By the second day I was very badly sunburned – It had been 40 degrees and like a dick I had underestimated the sun. Usually I just go a darker brown than I am already – No, this time it really was Lobsters on South Beach. The kids have clearly been given the massage skills of their mother (if i remember correctly – It has been some time since i was last privvy to the back breaking torture that she passes off as a massage) in that what should be relaxing when they rub in the after sun becomes painful and rough.
That night we headed to Nha Trang beach and watched the sunset – It was perfect. Warm beer, the kids playing in the sand, me needing a piss but there being no toilet – It was something else.
Our final day in the resort and we decided to venture over some rocks. The bay is not too big and at one end there are loads of rocks, I was convinced there would be another bay at the other side of the rocks. After about half hour and absolutely sweltering heat I heard some music, proper cheesy euro pop. We knew there was some sort of a party going on which of course we were headed to crash. Eventually we found this wooden building; it was set back slightly from the bay I was sure that would be there. It was a wedding and there were loads of tables, we sat down at the back and I started to film the funky karaoke and snidey magician. Instantly we were spotted and it wasn’t too long before I had a beer in my hand and the kids were eating fresh prawns and fruit. Charlie was sporting a new baseball cap given to him – and signed by some guy who could barely stand. And that was us, we spent the next few hours getting at someone’s wedding getting drunk and eating all sorts for free. It was great. The kids were loving the campest Vietnamese magician there is and I was sat enjoying having a drink and wondering how more surreal things could get – I got it all on video and it really does have to be seen to be believed!
It really was a great day. We somehow got back to the resort and ended up in Nha Trang where we had dinner whilst watching the sunset – I only know this because Charlie told me 😉
And that was Nha Trang, an amazing little hideaway, my favourite beach destination in the world (Apologies go out to Clearwater FL, and La Isla Majures Mexico) But Nha Trang was superb. Absolutely amazing.
Next stop Danang and Hoi An…