8:30am is when we are to be at the travel agency where we booked Nha Trang’s popular booze cruise. Some friends of mine whom I met traveling in Thailand last year suggested this to me, and for $10 all inclusive boat, most booze, snorkelling, and entertainment, I figure it sounds like a pretty good time!
We get picked up in a van that takes us to the harbour. I’m hoping we get a boat full of other young people, but it’s always a gamble with these things. Two middle aged Russian couples, and an array of not old but older people board our van with us. The day will still be great I’m sure, but I’m a little disappointed by the lack of youth up in here.
By 9am we’re on the boat and our host for the day has already cranked the 90s music. He’s singing and dancing along while we wait for another group to join us. The new van brings a younger crowd with about 6 people our age, so that’s positive.
We leave the dock and our host, an elderly Vietnamese man, introduces himself as “Morgan Like Morgan Freeman” (who he strangely resembles) but he says he is only Free for the ladies. I love him already. He gives us our itinerary for the day and encourages everyone to buy a beer before it’s even hit 9:30.
Our first stop is at an island where we have the option to pay 500,000 dong ($25) to scuba dive for an hour, or to go snorkelling for free. We choose the free option. The snorkelling isn’t world class or anything, but we see some cool fish and take some photos with my underwater camera. There are tiny, clear jelly fish floating about in the water, who sting us all multiple times. It’s not a sharp searing venomous pain, it’s more like a little pinch, but it’s still rude of them.
After an hour we drive out to another island and anchor the boat just off shore. The seats in the middle of the boat fold down into tables, and a scrumptious looking meal is placed in front of us buffet style. One girl my age decides not to eat anything which I think is crazy because there’s so much to choose from! She doesn’t even have a banana. I would never pay for food and then just not eat it. Rookie backpacking mistake.
I think it’s hilarious, and also slightly tragic, that we paid $85 dollars to go to Ha Long Bay where we got small portions of terrible on-board food, and today we’ve only spent $10, and the food is delicious and plentiful. Less is more.
After the rest of us have all downed copious amounts of seafood and rice, the floating bar opens for business. This is the “booze” part of the booze cruise. Beers cost 20,000 dong, but this random cocktail mixture of something orange flavoured is totally free! We climb up to the roof of the boat and jump into the ocean, swimming out to meet the bar tender on his tiny floating bar. It’s pretty blissful, floating around in the salt water with a drink in hand, soaking up the sunshine and taking in the view. Nha Trang’s skyline can be seen faintly off in the distance across the clear turquoise water. If only it weren’t for the jelly fish. Those buzz-killing little shits.
I go for a second jump off the boat, this time with a camera in hand. I ask one of the other young people on the boat if he can try to get a photo of me mid-air. I quickly show him how to use the camera, I count down from 3 and I make my leap. When I surface, he tosses me the camera and I continue paddling about taking more pictures. It isn’t until later when I’m looking through the days photos, that I find out he never got a picture of me at all. Not even a shot taken too late when I’m already submerged, not one of me standing on the edge of the roof, just nothing. No photo for you. Oh well.
I just assumed when giving someone younger than me a camera, they’d know how to use it.
A few plastic cups of orange mixture later, the bar has run dry and we swim back to the boat. I find three floating cups in the water that our boat group have tossed over board or left behind. I still don’t know where these people think their trash will go. I pick up the cups and bring them back to the boat with me and toss them in the garbage. Not that hard. Nha Trang is much cleaner than Ha Long Bay, and has a pretty significant amount of signs in multiple languages promoting a clean beach. I can’t understand why people don’t listen.
Next up on our tour is some entertainment. Our lunch table has become a stage, and a drum kit and two guitar players have set up to perform some music. Our host, Morgan Freelady, sings a a Vietnamese song, and introduces someone named “LadyBoy” who is just the boat driver in a wig. He sings too, and then calls on people at random to sing a song from their country. A woman from England is forced to sing along to an awful off-tune version of Wonderwall. It’s entertaining and painful all at once. I’m thankful that he never calls on Canada, because I’m sure I’d have a Justin Beiber hit waiting for me, but even more thankful that he calls on Switzerland. Now I have these hilarious photos of Tamara singing on a boat next to a man in a coconut bra and a skirt.
He makes her sing a time about a mountain that is unfamiliar to me. She says she barely knows it either, but he only knows one line that he repeats over and over again anyway, so it makes it easy.
The entertainment comes to an end, we visit one more beach, and then it’s time for the boat to drive us back to the harbour, resuming the loud 90s music. We say goodbye to our boat companions and our hilarious hosts, Morgan Freelady and LadyBoy.
Definitely worth the $10 it cost me for the whole morning and afternoon!
We go back to our hotel to change, and shortly after we head out to find dinner. We walk in the direction of the bar/restaurant concentrated area of Nha Trang and find a restaurant with a relatively cheap curry dish. Food in Nha Trang is simply more expensive than in most of the places we’ve visited so far, and I attribute it to the high volume of vacation tourists.
After last nights disappointing curry, I don’t know what makes us try again but we do. This time I have no regrets, because it’s really great! Flavourful and served with rice, no skinny naan bread. We run into the girl from Slovakia, who’s name I don’t think I’ve ever learned, for the 4th or 5th time on our trip. We see her everywhere! She joins us midway through our meal and comes out for drinks with us afterwards.
For some reason, Sunday night seems to have a more lively bar scene than Saturday. We visit the same places but everything is busier. We meet a few British people who live in Nha Trang, some for a few months some for a year. They get free food, accommodation and drinks for handing out flyers to tourists. I don’t think I could live in Nha Trang for a year, but a month maybe. What a cool and relaxed way to live by a beautiful beach!