Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Swimming with the jellies
We arrived early the following morning into Nga Trang, the most popular beach resort in Vietnam. Boasting clear waters, we had heard it was a good spot for a bit of snorkeling and were looking forward to getting into the water after the dust of the recent cities. The town and beach were attractive, and we soon found a lovely café on the beachfront with gorgeous food. The next day we found ourselves, along with what I imagine was the rest of Vietnam (apparently Nga Trang is the main destination for Vietnamese families for their holidays, so along with the tourists it was a busy place!) waiting on the pier for our boat.
The boat trip was really enjoyable – much of the first snorkeling site had unfortunately been destroyed by anchors and careless treatment, the corals grey and the fish few, although there was a healthy population of small jellyfish who kept us on our toes with their temporary, but sharp, stings and were near impossible to avoid. We finally admitted defeat when the clouds of gently drifting creatures started clogging our vision and the stings became rather more painful. The second and third sites were much nicer though, with colourful corals and a range of fish to see, along with some of the longest sea cucumbers I have ever seen, and beautiful big blue starfish lounging between corals. Lunch was fantastic too – a huge spread which could have easily fed double the number of people on the boat, with some lovely fresh seafood.
We wandered back at the end of the day along the surprisingly empty beach, and proceeded to spend one more day soaking up the relaxed and friendly atmosphere of the town, along with the yummy food in the bounty of restaurants before moving on. Although a lovely place, Nga Trang is beginning to feel the effects of a visitor boom, and is filling up with nightspots and hotels, affecting the atmosphere of the town a little, either positively or negatively depending on your tastes. For us, it was a little crowded and a couple of days were enough.