29 October 2009 – day 13 – Thursday – Nha Trang, Vietnam
Today was mostly a transition day, so there weren't as many photos taken. We got up early, rushed through breakfast, took a quick photo of the countryside outside our hotel room,
and got on the bus. At first, my traveling companions worried that it might rain like yesterday. I told them not to worry; I gave everyone my personal guarantee that it would not rain. Why? Because I had brought my Frogg Toggs on the bus. And I was right. I also assured them that the only reason it had rained yesterday was because I had left them at the hotel.
We saw something odd today: a three-wheeled motorbike. Lee told us they were made specially for the handicapped.
We had a few photo stops, like the pagoda of the Marble Mountain.
Of course, we saw the usual interesting sights, such as women carrying so many plants on their bikes, you couldn't even see them.
The bus drove us to the airport and we boarded a flight to the seaside resort town of Nha Trang. The city is beautiful.
There seems to be a lot more light here, and everything looks bright, vibrant, colorful, somehow more intense.
Our new bus took us to the city center where we got our orientation drive. So we could find our way around the city.
As we've seen before, people here are bundled up like it's winter in Minnesota or something. It was about 95F with 95% humidity, yet people walked around in long sleeves, boots and even coats. Very odd.
The bus took us into the countryside. We also stopped at a field where we saw a pond filled with lotus with cows grazing nearby.
Next, we were taken to a small village just out of town. As we walked from the bus into the village, we could see a mother and baby cow, and they were cute. As I approached, the calf stood up and came up to me out of curiosity. However, it wouldn't let me get too close. It was a quiet, peaceful village.
Our first order of business was to visit the restroom, but the restrooms were inside the house of the village chief. While I waited for the restroom to become free, I spotted a praying mantis hiding in a crack, so I took a photo.
We ate a very good lunch there.
While we were eating lunch, chickens walked around, pecking the ground. They had lots of cute little chicks following behind. I don't know if it's genetic or what, but these chickens are nearly naked and look like they've already been half-plucked!
After lunch, the chief of the village gave us a short talk about himself and his village.
For example, back in the Vietnam war, he was a soldier for the Saigon army, the army supported by the United States. After the war, he was still thought about highly enough that the socialist government made him chief of his village. His father was not a chief.
After his talk we asked the chief lots of questions. It was a lot of fun. He said there were 200 families in his village. I asked him what religion were the people of his village and he said that most villagers religion was ancestor worship. I found that very interesting. We even met his wife, but she didn't speak English.
After the talk, I got my photo with the chief.
Next we took a short tour of some of the village. At one house, there were two cute puppies. When I came close to the puppies, the mother came around to protect them.
The village makes its living mainly by weaving baskets made from bamboo slices. At one house, we were shown how it is done.
I spent more time than anyone making a basket. My basket was almost finished when we had to leave and head back to the bus.
As we were about to leave, I spotted a beautiful collection of flowers.
After we left the village, the bus took us to a nearby school. We had brought our pens and paper for the children and left them there. We sat down with the school principal and he gave us a talk about the school and its children. He was very proud of his kids and the fact that his school had achieved the National Standard for education.
After the talk by the principal, we went around to see the classrooms. The kids were very cute.
I took a lot of photos of the kids because they were so happy and entertained by it. I'd take a photo of a child and he'd have a very serious expression on his face. But when I showed him the photo on the camera, his face would light up and become a huge smile. It was delightful to see. They showed us examples of their handwriting, and it was absolutely beautiful. I wish my handwriting was that good.
Their computer lab was impressive; they even had flat screen LCD monitors.
After we left the school we went to the hotel and checked in. Unlike previous days, I was in the mood to just ground and rest for a little while, but Kathy wanted to go out and explore. In the previous days, I had always been the one driving her. Now our roles were reversed and she was driving me!
So off we went. We walked down to the beach, which is only two blocks away. It was beautiful and the place was filled with lots of tourists flitting about.
Eventually we went into a store that sold hand-embroidered artwork. It was beautiful stuff.
We had an uneventful but good dinner on our own. Due to its location by the sea, Nha Trang is known for its fresh seafood. They had very big tiger prawns.
I thought dinner was good. Kathy wasn't impressed and went away hungry. I was amused by the menu, which listed five different kinds of beer under “soft drinks.” I took a photo for proof.
Overloaded vehicles of the day:
I think Nha Trang has even more overloaded vehicles than Hanoi. Here you see trikes carrying multiple palm trees!
And several rooms worth of carpeting!
And why not take your motorbike for a cyclo ride while you're at it!