We do not speak Vietnamese; we cannot even read it… Shocking, but true. So when we arrived in the beachside town of Nha Trang and were given menus of two different languages, we were stoked. Until we saw the second language was Russian. We do not speak Russian; we cannot even read it. Again, shocking but true!
As is the case in most touristic towns, when the majority of visitors descend from a certain country, everything is then translated to that language. We met two Brits, a couple of Aussies and a handful of Western Europeans. The other 9,988 visitors were all from Russia. Nazdrovia! Now we love Russia, we had a great time there, but just like Brits in Malaga, or Aussies in Phuket, they get a little excited about being on a beach and figure it’s the best place to get plastered in the heat of the day. The difference with the Ruski’s, is their drink of choice is straight vodka, so are that hammered that they pass out for a few hours. Thankfully for us, it makes great watching. We watched ageing ladies in thongs (not flip flops) falling over in the sand (due to vodka and the fact there are still trying to wear six inch heels) ageing men stumbling around with a blistering backs and pale stomachs, or vice versa. Our favourite was a fellow that had a bright red bald head and, just as red, tops of his feet. Did he pass out standing completely vertical?
Unfortunately for us though, this means that everything in Nha Trang is now five times more expensive than it should be.
We went for a quick swim before trying to find a place we could afford for lunch. We naively began our search on the beach strip of restaurants before wandering further and further away in search of a Banh Mi, to no avail. We spotted a restaurant on the beach that had a snack menu that included both fresh spring rolls and a Banh mi. We took a seat and ordered, only to be told the snack menu was only for Russians, but we could still order the spring rolls. We saw a lady being served them, take a bite then got up and walked away. We walked away too.
Eventually we spotted a microbrewery (the old word for craft beer hipsters) at an almost reasonable price and sat down. Happy hour just begun, so we wiled away our time watching the drunken stupor on the beach, which was equally matched by the Japanese business meeting that had started with a beer tasting.
You are probably wondering why we went to Nha Trang, but it was for two good reasons. Ol’ Mate Kevin from such adventures as Vang Vieng, told us about a hostel that would not be surpassed and a street food tour that was equally as good. The hostel, Mozjo Inn, was absolutely brilliant. Not only are the rooms top notch, the girls that run the show are great fun. Always happy, always helpful, and within a minute, memorise your name. They helped us line up the street food tour and we headed there around 6pm.
Like Can Tho, it was just us two, but the guide was great and we got along straight away. We had a few stops to make, but the quality was set high at the first stop. We could probably say we peaked at this stop, as it would become Sarah’s number one dish in Vietnam. Not to say the other food was not good, but this simple dish, a rice paper salad, was so tasty. It had the perfect amount of kick that lingered for an hour later.
We went to another roadside eatery, so busy that the short table that sat twenty people, just squeezed us in. It was a noodle soup with fried fish balls, which was great and very popular. Across the intersection, on the opposite corner, was another rice paper dish that was the equivalent of a Vietnamese Pizza. The rice paper is grilled on a barbecue then topped with delicious condiments. It is crunchy and flavoursome. We wandered further to a small table in front of a driveway where the lady cooked little egg cups, while we sat in the front garden.
We had hoped to get to another restaurant, but it was closed, so we tried a new restaurant that filled their driveway with couches and served a huge and filling omelette style dish with some conspicuous looking balls.
Completely full from all the meals, and the snacks in between, we headed to a busy market to eat a dessert.. For the second time we were offered the chance to eat Duck Embryo and the second time, when asked if they ate it, we were given the response of No. Although, a young girl next to us was eating one, In between practising her English with us. We finished the tour back the restaurant where we were given a complementary beer. We had planned to head out one of the bars on the beach, as one last hurrah to Nha Trang, but we’re so full we instead bought a bottle of water and went to bed. It was probably a good choice, as we had a train to catch at 3:21am the next morning.