The start of our time in Nha Trang was also the first time we had any real problems on our trip. Arriving anywhere at 4 in the morning after an overnight bus trip means you are a bit tired and disoriented. Perfect for the unscrupulous taxi drivers as you try and grab your luggage from the bus and they try and take it from you promising to get you to your hotel. Despite being aware of the potential to get ripped off, we went with one who said he worked at our hotel. Naively thinking he may even have been sent by the hotel we were also reassured by the bus driver that he was genuine – of course he wouldn’t lie to us! When I asked about cost I was again told not to worry as he worked at the hotel, reinforcing my erroneous view that they had sent him. (We had experienced free pickups and drop offs from hotels before so this wasn’t completely ridiculous!)
The first indication that there may be problems ahead was when his taxi turned out to be 2 motorbikes. This isn’t unusual in Vietnam but despite this and our new found expertise as pillion passengers, racing around the city at 5 in the morning was a little uncomfortable. The second and biggest clue that we were about to be ripped off came when he turned to me and asked where the hotel was! I had the address to hand, very aware now that we had been duped. We eventually got to the hotel – or at least to about 100 metres from it, and got off the bikes. Realising we would have to pay I asked him how much. The figure he asked for would have hired us a private helicopter to fly us from Hoi An. If he had been sensible and asked for just a little bit more than he was due then I’d probably have given him it but the arrogance of the lie combined with the scale of the attempted rip off annoyed me. Ann says she has very rarely seen me lose my temper the way I did with him. He actually walked away and his colleague on the other bike came up to try and bargain. I gave him what I considered was a fair amount and he indicated that they should get that each. I let him know that wouldn’t be happening and walked away. That was when our second problem of the day became apparent. Ann realised in the scrum of people retrieving bags from the bus she had picked up one that looked a lot like her one, but unfortunately wasn’t.
It took a couple of hours and much emailing, walking and taxi (legitimate ones this time) rides but luckily we were eventually able to swap bags with an equally relieved Dutch couple.
Things did improve from that point onwards! The hotel felt sorry for us and gave us a free room upgrade, which meant we had a fantastic sea view. Over the next couple of days the sunsets we could observe from there were beautiful. Having passed the beach a few times already that morning we had observed the crowds of people out exercising at 6am doing tai chi, aerobics, weightlifting and numerous other activities. We hurried out to the beach in order to partake in the great British exercise of lying on sun loungers and being served food and drink. It was a glorious day and the stresses of the morning soon became memories that we could laugh about.
Nha Trang is very much a modern resort but much bigger than Hoi An. It is very much set up for the Russian market but most places also communicate in English too. It has a huge amusement park on an island in the bay which you can reach by one of the longest cable car rides in the world. Although we would have quite liked to go, you could only ride in the cable car as part of a package with entrance to the park, getting away from spending the day with hoards of wild kids was one of the reasons we are on this trip so that wasn’t very appealing! Instead we spent three very peaceful and relaxing days on the beach – partly as preparation for the next part of our trip to the hustle and bustle of Saigon!