For our last full day in Nha Trang we’ve decided to splurge a bit and visit Vinpearl Land, a theme park on an island just across the water. Tickets are 550,000 dong ($25), which is over our budget, but we’ve had a relatively cheap last few days and we get to take a sweet cable car to the island.
We search for motorbike taxis but of course, as soon as we’re looking for something we can’t find it so we settle on a regular taxi instead. I was told a motorbike would cost 60,000 each to take us to the cable car, and this taxi driver only charges us 80,000 between the two of us. I try to bargain a bit anyway, but he just laughs, says it’s impossible, and turns on the meter. When we arrive at the cable car, it’s literally just hit 79,000. He knows what’s up.
The cable car is included in the price the ticket, and is a really cool way to start our day. There are no line ups at the entrance gate, which seems like a good sign that the place won’t be totally over run with tourists today! We even get a car all to ourselves because there are so few people. Bonus!
It’s a beautiful sunny day, and the cable car glides over the pristine turquoise water, giving us a really great view of both Vinpearl and Nha Trang.
Once we’ve reached the other side, we enter a seemingly empty park. I’m pumped, because that means we won’t have to wait in any long lines for the rides! Or, as we quickly discover, it could mean all the rides are shut down for lack of demand. Oh how I wish someone would have mentioned that when we dropped $25 on tickets. That’s kind of a bummer, but the water park is still open!
We head down to the beach for the first couple hours, because some clouds look like they’re rolling in and the water is still calm for now. It’s an absolutely fantastic beach with white sand and beautiful blue water.
We walk down the shore looking for a vacant beach chair but they’re hard to come by. Sure, we could lay our towels in the sand but I’m confident that we can find somewhere to sit if we keep walking. We do eventually find a spot, drop our things and head straight for the water. I’ve only been away for 5 minutes when I look back to the beach and see three middle aged people moving our stuff off the beach chairs and trying to claim them for themselves. Hella no! I walk back and point out the fact that we’re obviously sitting there, hence our items on the chairs, and they act confused before walking on to find someone else’s seats to poach.
Walking back to meet Tamara in the water, both of us burst out laughing at this ridiculous mother and daughter pair having a photo shoot. The mom is taking what must be hundreds of photos of her daughter, who’s wearing a thong bikini and making ridiculous, yet serious, sexy poses. I feel embarrassed for them. They spend forever doing it, and never actually go for a swim or lay on the beach. They’ve just come for pictures. They’re not the only ones though, we see dozens of people doing the exact same thing. One girl uses her boyfriend as a photographer while she rolls around in the sand, fixing her hair to make sure it’s just so, while still trying to look casual and candid. Watching people take photos will provide us with entertainment all day.
After some time on a beach, and even a little nap in the shade, we try to visit the water park. It’s a bit of a challenge with our day bag, which carries all of our necessary things like wallets, phones, cameras. You can’t bring that down a water slide with you. We leave it on a bench and ask a Vietnamese women with two children to watch it for us. She says no.
We leave it there anyway and pray it won’t get stolen. There is a locker, but it’s far away and 10,000 dong ($0.50) so clearly leaving our items out in the open is a better option. We run up the stairs of the water slide in order to be reunited with our things faster. We can still see the bag from the top, so that’s good news. We dive head first down a shockingly steep water slide. It’s supposed to be fun but it mostly just terrifies me. I’m going so fast that I’m worried I won’t stop before I reach the end. What if this slide is only designed for 100 pound Vietnamese children and not giant westerners? Will I die? I get so much water in my face that I have to close my eyes, which makes it even more terrifying because I can’t see where the slide ends anymore. I prepare for impact, but then miraculously come to a full stop without running into a wall. Phew.
We jump off the end of the slide and make it back to our bag, which still has all of our belongings. Hooray! It’s pretty unlikely that the clientele here, a bunch of rich Russian tourists, would steal our backpack, but you never know. We try two more rides, or “games” as they’re called in the park. It’s either a weird translation, or someone doesn’t know what a game is. The first is like a half pipe that you ride in a blow up tube. Again, insanely steep. This time I do run into a wall, but not at full speed. The second ride is an extremely tall enclosed tube slide that connects to a giant out door bowl with a hole in the centre where you fall out and essentially exit the ride. The tube is made of 4 foot long segments that are all attached together, but not flawlessly. I can feel each ridge on my back as I go down, faster and faster through this dark tube. When I get to the biggest drop, I am blinded by water and am only aware that I’m outside in the bowl because of the sun shining through my eyelids. I try to open my eyes but still, water pours in, forcing them closed again. I free fall down into a pool of uncomfortably warm water, and the ride is over. I don’t know if I love or hate that ride. A for adrenaline but C- for whoever built it and didn’t smooth out the inside. Geez.
I hit my head on a pipe while climbing out of the pool, and moments later barely dodge a rogue mango that falls from a tree. I am not having a good day. At least our backpack still hasn’t been stolen. We head back to the beach where the sun is hidden by clouds, but the rain is still holding off. We go for another little swim. A huge man with a serious beer gut and sunburn screams, “You! Girl! Where you from?” and wades over to us. Oh no. Tamara responds that she’s from Switzerland, and before I have time to say I’m from Canada he’s elated and needs to show Tamara his Swiss watch. He then turns to me and starts saying something about chocolate and mountains. He thinks we’re both from Switzerland. I shall be Swiss today, why not? He’s flabbergasted by the fact that we’re backpacking around South East Asia and are only 22. I ask him where in Russia he’s from, guessing by his accent, and he says Siberia. He’s literally from Siberia. Not, “oh I live out in like Siberia, really far, you won’t have heard of it”. Real Siberia. That explains the sunburn. He says there’s always snow on the ground where he lives. When he asks us what hotel we’re staying at, I decide it’s a good time to give him a fake hotel name and get out of the water. He’s nice and I think just excited to practice his English, but nah.
We sit on our beach chairs and watch more people taking posey photos of themselves. I wish there were time stamps on my photos to prove how long they spent doing this. Everyone thinks they’re a god damn Victoria’s Secret model. Even one girl who has a horrible peeling sunburn on her back, with a new burn, I’m guessing from today, on the new skin underneath. Double sunburn. If I were her, I’d want no photographic evidence that it ever happened.
We check out the aquarium before we leave, which is small but cool. I always love aquariums! This is one of the pros to coming on a day with very little tourism, we get to look at all the exhibits without being crowded (Toronto Aquarium anyone?). While in the tunnel I notice something strange. I’m not 100% sure, but it looks like all the stingrays have had their stingers cut off. I’m not a marine biologist so I’m not really sure how the end of their tails are supposed to look, but all of them have what seem like strangely short tails with blunt edges. I suppose I just don’t want to know.
All the nemos and dorys!
When we leave the aquarium it’s 4:30 and there doesn’t seem like there’s much else happening at Vinpearl unless we want to go shopping, so we head back to the mainland via cable car. We share a car with an English couple, one of whom is terrified. He calls the cable car a death trap. I think it’s probably the safest mode of transportation I’ve taken in South East Asia thus far.
We go back to the hotel for the usual cold shower and clothing swap before going out for dinner. Things at Vinpearl were pretty expensive, so we skipped lunch. 55,000 dong ($2.50) for a fruit shake? I don’t think so. Now I’m hungry! We find a sweet restaurant a couple doors down from our hotel. We’re confused about how we’ve never checked the menu before, because we’ve walked past it every day. They have four menus. A seafood menu, salad menu, soup menu, and one for everything else. I am overwhelmed by choices! Everything is so cheap and looks so delicious. I order fresh spring rolls and a stir-fried squid and vegetable dish. Tamara gets a pumpkin soup and spring rolls too. The food comes quickly and is so delicious. We’re disappointed that we didn’t find this place sooner or we would have come for every meal!
Just before we ask for the bill, who walks in but overly-enthusiastic Siberia man. He yells “Switzerland!” and shows us his photos of himself at Vinpearl. Our waitress asks if we’d like to sit together and pulls a chair over for him. He leaves to wash his hands and we ask for the bill immediately. She apologizes for suggesting that we sit together and we explain that we don’t actually care but would have left soon anyway. We pay, wave goodbye to our rouge Russian pal and he says “aurevoir!”. We know we will not, in fact, see him again because we’re moving on to Dalat tomorrow, and I’m certain he won’t leave Nha Trang for his entire vacation.
We have an early bus to catch tomorrow, so we go back to our hotel for an early night’s sleep.