Monday, March 28, 2011

Warm but stormy in Nha Trang

I've got internet access in the room and I've got time before dinner! I just read an article in the Washington Post, "Spring Travel: Old war wounds give way to a new Vietnam". Can't be the same country. This article was written from the perspective of high-class hotel accommodations, no mention of the constant pressure to buy. The pressure to buy is not the same as the vendors coming up to you and asking (pleading with) you to buy; that kind of begging you have everywhere, it seems. Here it is a matter of the guide saying you're going to have a stop to pee and then have you spend 45 minutes in the adjacent shop. Yesterday, in Hoi An, I skipped the morning visit of the city because I've caught a cold. I stayed at the hotel and rested. Our guide had been called away for something urgent, so we had a substitute, a nice girl who sped the group through the museum in 10 minutes, whereas Paul and Alain would have liked to spend a little more time, to drop them all at another shop/factory for 45. They finished the tour by 10!
This morning our bus took us back to Da Nang to get the plane to Nha Trang and the guide suggested we stop on the way to see the marble sculptors. I think there was a unanimous groan of "NO!" from us and she got the message, so we did not stop. The Nha Trang airport is Cam Rahn. These place names are so familiar to me. They've turned the old US air base into a sparkling new international airport. After the Americans left in 1975, the Soviets rented the naval base until their regime change and they decided it was too expensive. The Vietnamese finally said "enough" and have decided to make the bay the luxury vacation destination of the future. It's just beginning, but you can see the lay of the land: intersections and streets in the middle of nowhere, some buildings going up, golf courses being laid, the beach, the beautiful sand.... It really could be pleasant.
One of the problems is that this is such a quick-paced tour. We are seeing a lot, and really, it is a beautiful country, but we can't seem to do more than scratch the surface.

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