It was an early Sunday morning on the 1st of October(2017). Pariksheet and I were out on the streets of Nha Trang, looking for a bakery or a store. We looked around a couple of streets only so as to not get lost ourselves. All the bakeries and stores were still shut.
Finally, there was one general store in the corner that was open. We bought a muffin and a candle from the store and hushed back to the room.
A couple of hours earlier, we had arrived in the coastal city of Nha Trang. We walked to our stay, Coconut Hostel, which was only a couple of blocks away. All I could think of was the comfortable beds when compared to the seats of the Open Bus from Mui Ne to Nha Trang. After the refreshing bath, I quickly remembered what the date was and that led to our brief flurry on the streets. It was Vijay’s b’day and we had completely forgotten to wish him.
Once Vijay came out of the bath, we surprised him with the little muffin and the candle. We all wished him a happy birthday and huddled for a group picture. Our plan for today was to dive in the famed waters of Nha Trang Bay. The hostel staff aided us in renting two wheelers for a reasonable price, which we used to reach the Nha Trang Beach.
The scooters took some adjusting to. The driving side is on the right side of the road in contrast to the left hand drive on Indian roads. Also, my scooter was geared one and the gear system was cyclic gear shift, i.e. from 1 to 4 and back to 1 after fourth in the forward direction. A short and puzzling, yet fun ride got us to the beach where we looked for diving centers.
Diving In Nha Trang Bay
It was around 11am and this was the fourth diving center that we were enquiring at. The answer was the same here too. All the centers said that the boats have already left for the dives and we were late. I decided to give one last try at another shop at the end of the street. The lady agreed for a single casual dive and said it would cost extra for the speedboat as other boats have all left. We took the deal after a bit of a bargain.
We went back to the beach where we boarded a speedboat. To our right we could see the Vinpearl Cable Car, a cable car system over the ocean to reach the Vinpearl Amusement Park on Hon Tre island. The speedboat came to a halt amongst a few boats. The speedboat driver came to an agreement with one of the boat staff and these guys would be taking us for a dive.
We donned the wet suits and gear provided and got into the cerulean waters. This was my second dive, the first being in the Andaman Islands. Altough the friendly staff tried to explain us the basics with their limited command over English, I would recommend to try your first dive with someone who can clearly make you understand all the guidelines. The water was not as clear as the Andamans but I liked the way my trainer showed me around the reef. The Reef was quite abundant with corals and rich marine life. I had come back to the peaceful blue world where all i could hear were air bubbles as i exhaled. The trainer encouraged me to get a feel of the different sponges which felt soft. Variety of colorful fish looked inquisitively at the visitors. It felt like time stood still and I could do this all day.
Even though it was a great dive, the relatively clearer waters of the Andamans , made the Nha Trang dive feel a little less satisfying. A couple of them who had this as their first diving experience found it amazing. I, on the other hand, wondered if I would get to see a sea turtle in my next dive in another part of the world. We dried off on the boat and took the speedboat back to the harbour. We took a Vinasun taxi to the beach, where our scooters were parked and headed back to the hostel.
National Oceanographic Museum of Vietnam:
The girls decided to explore something nearby as we guys headed out on our scooters to the Oceanographic Museum. It was around 5 pm and we wanted to see the place before it closed down for the day. There were no other tourists other than us at that time and we took our time in viewing each section. The museum is housed in a French colonial building and spans two floors. We started from the open ponds; one for turtles and the other two for different kinds of fish which included a couple of reef sharks. I leaned in to feel the hard shell of turtle, which didn’t seem to mind the touch.
In the ground floor, we came across a number of glass tanks that contained wide variety of colorful fishes , crustaceans , mollusks , anemones , corals and see weeds. Each tank was labelled with both names in English and Vietnamese for locals and tourists alike and also its origin and characteristics. The upper floor housed thousands of specimen preserved in glass jars. It also showcased the history of fishing in the country in the form of fishing equipment and local boats. A number of skeletons are also featured here, in particular, the skeleton of a Humpback whale which was around 18 ft in length and the skeleton of a dugong.
White sandy beaches, clear waters and rich coral life make Nha trang the best spot on the Vietnamese mainland for beach lovers and diving enthusiasts. The city is not too crowded like Saigon or Hanoi and provides a relaxing atmosphere. The delicious seafood is not to be missed.