The Expats

Nha Trang Travel Blog

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Staff at the Spot

Expats are a colorful lot wherever they hang their hat, or in some cases, hide it. Cambodia seemed a haven for the likes of aging European drug runners, former Chicago hit men, veteran French Foreign Legionnaires, out-of-work mercenaries, even an American soldier who never went home from the war. I understood why that country is dubbed the 'Wild, Wild East', but sometimes Cambodia seemed more like a 'Sunny Place for Shady People'. 


The several hundred expats here in Nha Trang are a much more relaxed, settled, and happy bunch. Germans, Russians, and Irish seem to outnumber Americans - for having small businesses anyway - and their numbers also include British, French, Canadians, Australians, and Swiss, among others from around the world.

The Spot
Many live here year-round; others, long enough to escape European or North American winters. Most are retirees from all walks of life married to Vietnamese and many are veterans.


Expats can provide a wealth of useful information wherever they live. They are often eager to share their hard-earned knowledge so I sought them out to learn about renting an apartment for a couple of months. The Kangarooski was their popular hangout last year. Since my arrival on the 6th, that bar has kept erratic hours but I finally caught up with Valirye, the boisterous Russian owner. He piloted MIG-21s in their Afghanistan War and has lived in Vietnam for several years. We exchanged aviation stories over a few beers and several glasses of fine vodka - the same generous vodka that, in recent months, had run the foreigners off in premature stages of inebriation.

Checkpoint Charlie is another popular expat hang-out
The Kangarooski is quiet now.


I caught up with a group of the alien residents at The Spot, an outdoor Irish beer garden-restaurant which is run by the witty and jovial Wilson and his Vietnamese wife. The place has excellent Western and Vietnamese food; the beer, cold and cheap. Steve was there. I had met him last year on my two day visit to Nha Trang. He flew Huey gunships up-country during the war, came back for a visit with some Army buddies, and decided to stay. That was seven years ago and he has only been home to Minnesota once since. It was Steve who had planted in my mind the idea to get an apartment for a couple of months - something I had never done while low-budget traveling.


Steve introduced me to some of the other expats who had converged for a weekly pool tournament. Ken, a Marine veteran from Louisiana, offered the fourth floor of his house for two million Vietnamese Ðong per month. Since most apartments require a three to six month contract and did not include kitchen utensils, general appliances, or linens, I agreed to have a look at the place. Two million Ðong equals about US$125.

muctieuvietnam says:
"Two million Ðong equals about US$125." - January 2008. That is about a 16,000 VND to 1 USD exchange rate. I went to visit Việt Nam this past summer, August 2010 and the exchange rate was 19,500 VND to 1 USD...that's about a 22% increase over 2-1/2 years. Or a weakness in the VND compared to the USD. It's no wonder many Vietnamese keep Dollars as an inflation hedge. Thanks for the information Dan. I'm wondering how much I'll need in USD to rent a apartment per month in 2011.
Posted on: Dec 04, 2010
blenderboy says:
Dan.was great travling with u for the day in AZ..cant wait to share cheap beers and shrimp with u in some exotic local...enjoy that sun/winter on its way to Milwaukee tonight

Jim in Milwaukee
Posted on: Nov 23, 2008
sylviandavid says:
Great blog...... Good idea to get an apartment... good to have a frig and couch..... Interesting characters.... sylvia
Posted on: Feb 06, 2008
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Staff at the Spot
Staff at the Spot
The Spot
The Spot
Checkpoint Charlie is another popu…
Checkpoint Charlie is another pop…
Nha Trang
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