Nha Trang – Painted eyebrows and Cham Towers – Day 156 – 23 June

We reached the seaside town of Nha Trang in the morning’s early hours and simply to remove myself from the ‘sleeper’ bus’ bed took a great deal of effort and a strategically placed shoe horn or two. It had been a relatively uncomfortable trip but as we approached the area and the Sun was coming up there was a certain charm that was soon enough dispelled by the cold cruel light of day.

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Nearing Nha Trang as the Sun rose

We needed to get a taxi from the bus station to get us to our hotel which itself was only a short walk away from the seafront and as it was so early, it was very appreciated by us that our hotel manager let us into the room to dump our stuff.

Gear ‘stowed’, next we had to attend to breakfast which we had round the corner at a noodle cafe – yet another bowl of noodley goodness with a side plate full of fresh green veggies to add colour and a tray full of various condiments for flavour, some of which would probably strip the paint from your barn door they were just that hot. Once again though, you add a bit of this and a dash of that and it is just delicious – the stock on its own was a treat. So once again we were filled to bursting so we popped back to our room to grab an hour or so of shuteye before venturing back out.

Once refreshed and feeling just that bit more alive and with full bellies to boot we decided to get out and about. We walked down to the seafront and then followed it along and along and along. This, as my description hits at, was quite a stroll so we broke it up with a thirst quenching fruit drink stop at a coffee shop of all places but here we could admire the views as the beach looked very long, nice and well tended. This was even though there were not that many people about on it as it was slightly out of season.

We consulted ‘Google’ and found out that we were not too far from Cham Towers, a place I had down to see in my list of attractions for the town, so we wearily continued onwards and over the bridge which runs over the river estuary there. It was still a good walk but at last we finally made it. The walk confirmed what we had heard about Nha Trang earlier in that it is the preferred holidaying resort for Russians. This means that a lot of items on menus and cafe boards are in Russian and Vietnamese before English makes an appearance. However, this year due to the fall in the Russian economy, there were less Russians than usual in town so in places English was progressing up the charts into second or even first place as the language of choice!

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Getting there was longer than anticipated (argh!) but Cham Towers, when we finally got there, is quite an impressive Hindu temple, originally consisting of eight towers but now only four are available.

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It was perched on a small granite outcrop so even as we approached we could see it on the distant skyline (mocking us?) and inside it had ‘working’ shrines that the locals – Cham, Vietnamese and Chinese Buddhists – still come to pray at. For tourists to go inside the shrines you had to wear the appropriate garb and long grey robes were available for such use at a cloakroom just by the side of the temples. Inside one of the buildings there were also some statues from the era as well and one the areas which never fails to impress are the lintels over the doorways which are always so very intricately carved.

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The Missus looking especially Buddhist

On the way back away from Cham Towers we stopped to grab a bite to eat and by now we were ravenous once again. So when very hungry, what fills the spot – more noodles of course! We stopped at a small stall in the street with some squat chairs placed round some squat tables next to the stall. As we trudged past the place smelt delicious and we simply asked for what the guy before had just been served. It turned out to be quite peanutty and very hot but very full of flavour and some of the best noodles we had tasted thus far and in Vietnam, that is sure saying something.

We were now very full and, as we had been up very early we were now beginning to wear down, making the journey back on foot simply beyond us, so we flagged down a taxi and rode back in some style to the area our digs were in. We stopped at a pub in a busy street and sat there having couple of beers whilst we watched the passers by. This turned out to be quite entertaining in itself as a lot of the people we were seeing were ‘possibly’ Russian. I say this but I have no idea except that the women were very glamorous indeed and had painted eyebrows on and the guys they were with were usually quite portly. Now I am not too sure what the whole painted eyebrows things is about, I mean how do you know which days you are going to be surprised and need arched eyebrows and which days will have no surprises? Also, ‘Russian’ men sure have there own take on style to match the ladies as they often sport ‘budgie smugglers’ and some also we spotted wearing women’s blouses too.

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