Into Nha Trang

Nha Trang Travel Blog

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Central Dalat
  

Sitting up front offered a nice but often terrifying impression of a bus driver determined to set a new speed record on the treacherous run from Dalat to Nha Trang. The orange bus had tremendous power and its smooth, quiet acceleration was surprising, even on level ground.

The Cathedral of Dalat scurried with Sunday activity as our bus raced by on the $6, five-hour journey down the mountain.

 

Concrete barriers appeared much too low to prevent cars, let alone busses, from sliding off the twisting road but the driver skillfully spun the oversized steering wheel to right and left extremes as we descended rapidly and sharply down steep mountain-sides.

The old runway at Dong ba Thin.
We passed a few small waterfalls and spectacular scenic overlooks then crossed a high plateau of river-land farms and villages. What looked like could be rice paddies in the wetter season were now growing vegetables. The small plots of land beside crude huts of bamboo or tin were sectioned off by shallow irrigation ditches.

 

The driver blasted the loud horn at anything and anyone that moved, including those not even on the road and displaying no intention of moving there. A few blasts were legitimate - underfed cattle crossing the road or teenage motor-bikers talking on cel phones completely unaware of the orange monster hurling toward them. Our driver remained King of the Road as he passed all other traffic which included other busses and trucks, horse-drawn carts, and pedestrians. He missed most by just inches.

Statue in Nha Trang
After one more steep and winding descent we were finally out of the mountains. We followed a long river valley into Phan Rang where we intercepted Highway 1 at the traffic circle then continued north along the South China Sea.

 

Highway 1 is two-lane but wide enough for white lines to designate motorbike lanes on either side. Traffic flowed fast and smooth. After a second rest stop we continued past the sprawling town of Cam Ranh Bay, then, fifty kilometers before Nha Trang, the site of my helicopter base from the war days; Dong ba Thin. The old paved runway still parallels Highway 1 but is no longer used as an airfield. I briefly revisited the site last January and will again later on this trip. By mid-afternoon, our bus streaked into Nha Trang - fifteen minutes later than advertised.

 

I checked into the 62 Tran Phu Hotel for $10 a night. The place is across the four-lane Tran Phu Boulevard from the beach and just around the corner from Nha Trang's numerous bars and western restaurants. My fully furnished four-star room is on the third floor and I can glimpse the sea and nearby Hon Tre Island. After settling in, I bee-lined to the Kangarooski, which was the popular expat hangout last year.

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Central Dalat
Central Dalat
The old runway at Dong ba Thin.
The old runway at Dong ba Thin.
Statue in Nha Trang
Statue in Nha Trang
Fishing boats in Nha Trang
Fishing boats in Nha Trang
Nha Trang
photo by: rotorhead85