More beach and then up a mountain
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On the first full day in Nha Trang we walked round guided by Amelia - first to the huge and very ugly catholic church made out of concrete blocks, then down to the Long Son Pagoda (swarming with people wanting to guide/tag onto you - you can never rest easy in this country), and then behind this on the hill was the Giant Seated Buddha on top of a hill top - massive white buddha, quitestriking, you can see it for miles around and then on the way back down a huge white reclinning buddha. We then walked along a street to the Long Thanh Gallery - had to ring a bell for the guy (Long Thanh himself we realised) to open the door and turn the lights on - Long Thanh is an important Vientamese photographer, taking blackand white photos that capture scenes from the country - although he travels the whole country he was born and lives in the seaside town of Nha Trang and doesn't want to move apparently. Very humid and hot even though no sun so we went and sat at a few cafes and had spring roles at the 'Same Same Cafe'. Tried out quite a few of the bars in the main centre - Guava was very nice with cool music playing and Crazy KimBar was good again with 2for1 on cocktails. On the second day we walked to the museums but find they are all shut on Saturday afternoons so we instead went shopping (again!) and then Amelia and I went down to the Phu Dong Water Park for a bit of non-salty swimming - no sun again today though and water outdoors soo very cold. So many hazards around the pool it was hilarious - a rusty zip line, slippy tiles, a sort of circuit rapids with large rocks in, dirt, tiles missing and pipes going across it - we sat in a rubber ring and went round then decided to try the flumes - the first was an open air one - builtup a lot of speed and not much room to slow down at the end. Then a proper flume, where you sit on your ring to go down - 3 of us in it at once, going very fast and bolts and stilts groaning as we went down - agh!
On the final day we walked all the way to the Po Ngar Cham Towers - 2km out of the centre of the town - sun finally out and blaring - we crossed the bridge to see shanty town all along the river. We could see the towers from a long way off as were built on a hill - red towers that look elaborate in design, built between the 7th and 12th centuries on a site used by Hindus for worship. Up close they were strange things to look at, and entering them they have tiny room with a shrine in in each. Back to the centre of town across a different way and through very dirty streets to the centre, where we went shopping again! There was a power cut around 5pm on a number of streets, not going on again until 8pm...we then made our way to Omar's (the indian restaurant we'd been looking for fromthe first day) and had another delicious curry.
Yesterday we got up at 7am to take a bus to Dalat - a 6 hour journey on some very windy roads, up and down the side of a mountain (Dalat is a mile above sea level). The bus was delux to my previous travelling standards, we even got a goody bag with peanuts and water, how kind. The only thing was the bus stopped every hour for a drink stop, toilet stop, lunch stop, photo stop (I think that was why the bus was so cheap, commisioned for us to stop and buy at all these points?). Arriving in Dalat was quite a strange experience as huge houses along the road looking like French chateauxs, with a massive golf course and lake - like the French alps - where has Vietnam gone??! Apparently the French used to come here to escape the heat and hummidity of Ho Chi Minh. We walked around for a bit over to another Catholic Church and viewed the tower that looked like the eiffel tower,and then went in the Sovitel hotel for afternoon tea (a beer)...massive hotel, very grand, with fake impressionist paintings on the wall...we sat on the terrace and looked down at the lake. Then made our way to the market - back again in a real Vietnamese town - Amelia and Andy bought a bottle of snake wine (with a scorpion in as well) - and then upstairs to look at the clothes. In the evening we walked to Trong Dong restaurant, recommended in the Lonely Planet (each table with foreigners and their LP out on the table!) and ate their recommended grilled shrimp paste on a sugar cane (we had this the other night but did not know what it was!) and hotpot.