Russian Invasion in Mui Ne and Nha Trang

A five hour bus ride brought us from Ho Chi Minh City to the beach town of Mui Ne where we stayed at the brand new Windflower Hotel with its nice pool. The hotel was a bit outside the main strip which was okay for us as we devoted the next two days to relaxing.

Mui Ne (and our next destination Nha Trang) has seen a huge influx of Russian tourist in the last few years as they don’t need a Visa to get to Vietnam. Nothing wrong with that however as every single restaurant sign board and menu was in Russian we were sometimes wondering in which country we actually were. Some locals told us that a lot of Russian mafia money is being laundered here in Vietnam. Looks like if the Vietnamese government gave in to the “quick buck” – we hope it won’t hurt them in the long run.

On our last afternoon in Mui Ne we booked a guide who brought us to the local white and red sand dunes which are a nice photo subject and we had a relaxed afternoon watching the locals and tourists sliding down the dunes.

The next morning, before we left to Nha Trang we had a look at the very picturesque Fairy Stream. Multicolored sand really gave the illusion of a fairy tale landscape and we took some great pictures.

Later on a six hour bus ride brought us further north to Nha Trang where we stayed in the very nice and new Thang Bom Hotel. As so often here in Vietnam the staff was very friendly and helpful. Many Swiss hotels could take them as a role model when it comes to hospitality.

After a good night’s sleep we organized our train tickets and decided that we wanted to go to the local mud spa. For six dollars you get half an hour in a pool full of mud and a bath in the mineral pools. Surely a great way to spend an afternoon.

After we have had a nice meal the day before at Nha Hang Yen’s Restaurant we savored another great local meal at Lanterns. Definitely food is a highlight of Vietnam. In a sit down restaurant two person can get a nice meal with beers for below 20 USD and if you go and eat street side you get away with a few dollars for two. Just yummy.

The next day Hazel went diving and saw some nice fishes and corrals (but then one seldom sees elephants while diving). In the meantime Kevin used Hazel’s breakfast voucher to get two breakfast and spent the rest of the morning relaxing in the room. For dinner we had a nice surf and turf BBQ.

As mentioned before Nha Trang is swarmed with Russians and unfortunately not a very charming place anymore. It has a nice beachfront and surly one can eat well but besides that it could be a city anywhere in the world. Quite a pity and we hope that this isn’t the trend for other Vietnamese towns in the future.

As our train was only leaving at 8 pm we had another full day in Nha Trang. After watching Hangover III (funny) we relaxed at the long beach and had an early dinner.

Once we had arrived at the train station we saw that our train was one hour delayed (once he departed the delay was closer to two hours) which was not much of an issue for us. However we almost manged to board the wrong train (to Saigon) – actually we were already in the train and wondered why there were people in our beds when the conductor came by and pointed out our mistake. No harm done and a bit later we were in the right train.

We had booked two bunk beds in a four bunk compartment (also called soft-sleeper). In the same compartment was a friendly Vietnamese family with their kids and soon we exchanged some food and had a basic conversation.

The trains in Vietnam are quite okay (a bit like the old sleeping trains in Europe a few years ago) and definitely preferable to the kamikaze night bus rides in the sleeper buses. And so we soon dozed off while the train made its way north.

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