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by Bob Kerstetter
Nha Trang is a seaside resort community east and north of Saigon by 454 kilometers. From 1949 to 1975 it hosted an air force base for the French, Vietnamese and Americans, in that sequence. The US also stationed Navy, Marine and Army personnel near Nha Trang.
By tour bus, the trip takes more or less eight hours on mostly two-lane roads. While less than 60 minutes by air, when flying you miss contact with the people, landscape, communities and vegetation.
Because of traffic congestion and urban spread, leaving Saigon takes about 90 minutes. You are then traveling slightly uphill with distant mountains to the left and right. The South China Sea drifts into view then out again. The land adjacent to the highway is committed to husbandry—farmers grow rice, dragon fruit and ornamental plants, as examples. When near the water, you notice areas for harvesting sea salt, an evaporative process.
The bus ride demands cultural flexibility. To keep the trip as short as possible, the driver passes lots of slower vehicles—motorbikes, trucks (lorries for the Brits), bicycles and other buses—sometimes with others headed at you in the oncoming lanes. If a collision would otherwise ruin your trip the oncoming vehicle moves to the shoulder and lets you pass. No one seems to care about this as everyone does it and no one appears to get angry. After what comes across as a few close calls you realize they were not close at all. It’s the local style of driving, so you just relax and trust your driver.
Nha Trang looks like a retouched photograph—too beautiful to be true. Islands rise from the clear sea. The water is rich blue from its limpid depths. A scary cable car ride 3.3 kilometers long gives you an incredible overview of the area. It climbs to 60 meters above the sea and connects the mainland to the Vinpearl entertainment park. Worth the ride, the park has an amazing aquarium you view from underneath.
BTW, in this post, you can place your mouse pointer over the metric numbers to see American system units.
Tour Bus Leaving Saigon
Mountains East of Saigon, Vietnam
Dragon Fruit in Front Yards, Vietnam
Not Retouched or Enhanced—Nha Trang, Vietnam
Cable Car to Vinpearl, Nha Trang, Vietnam
The bus ride to Nha Trang sure sounded “interesting!” I, a seasoned back-seat-driver would really have some serious adjustments to make. Glad you arrived safely!
That cable car ride sounded adventuresome, too. Guess it’s all worth it for the beauty you see.
What a trip!