The final entry from Vietnam
26.12.2011 - 31.12.2011 37 °F
As I write this, I'm actually back home in Shanghai, but since I still have one last place that I visited in Vietnam, that means you get at least one more blog.
When I made my itinerary for my trip, I decided that I wanted to spend the last few days relaxing on a beach somewhere. I had many choices since Vietnam has quite a long coastline (2140 miles!), but really only had to make my choice between two places - the island of Phu Quoc (whose territory has also been claimed by Cambodia in the past) and the city of Nha Trang, which is on the south central coast. I researched both places, but ultimately made my decision to go to Nha Trang. During the war, my dad was stationed at Cam Ranh Bay, which is fairly close to Nha Trang, so that was a deciding factor. Also, the hotel I wanted to stay in in Phu Quoc was fully booked. And I didn't notice it at first, but the Phu Quoc hotel's website says that it is a "clothing optional" hotel. Thank God I didn't go there! So in the end, it wasn't a difficult decision to make.
Nha Trang's rainy season is from mid-October to mid-December, so I just missed out on another rainy location. And even though it didn't rain, the sun was never out in full force while I was there. But it did seem to come out a bit more the morning I left (that's just typical, ain't it?).
Anyway, here are pictures of the hotel and some of the city's sites.
My hotel - Green Peace Hotel (the modern-looking one on the right)
Po Nagar Towers, another Hindu temple site built by the Champa
A view of the Cai River from Po Nagar
A sleeping Buddha at Long Son Pagoda (a copy of a sleeping Buddha in Thailand)
Another Buddha at the top of the mountain
Just off the road on the way from Nha Trang to Cam Ranh Bay (where my dad was, remember?)
I'm not sure anyone else will appreciate this picture, but I took it for my dad from the runway at the Cam Rahn Bay airport - nothing from the war still here, other than the runway itself, as far as I can see
For my last night in Vietnam, I went back to Hanoi. It wasn't originally my plan to do that, but I couldn't fly from Cam Ranh to Shanghai in one day - there wasn't enough time between flights as I would have had to connect in either Hanoi or Saigon. So I decided the best thing to do would be to fly back to Hanoi (I bought a round-trip ticket from Shanghai -> Hanoi -> Shanghai and then several one-way tickets for all of my domestic flights). To be honest, I'm glad it worked out the way it did. It gave me a real feeling of closure - my travels had come to an end right where they had started. Plus, I had scoped out some souvenirs the first day in Hanoi, then went back to those shops on my last day and bought them then. It was great not having to cart them around for three weeks that way. Anyway, here are a few more pictures from my last day in Vietnam
Back at the Hanoi Elite Hotel (room 201 this time)
It's the little touches like this that make the Hanoi Elite Hotel so awesome - a free fruit plate every day and a laptop for checking e-mail and stuff in every room!
The first time I saw this building, there were a few schoolgirls standing in front of it, but I didn't get a picture as I was in a van driving by. On my last day in Vietnam, I purposely walked to it (about 30 minutes from my hotel) to get some pictures. Alas, there were no schoolgirls that day, but I took several pictures anyway. I asked my driver to the airport the next day what the building is/was, and he said he thought it was an old factory - pretty cool factory, if you ask me!
A detailed shot of the writing under one of the factory windows. I have NO idea what it means.
This is the entrance to a restaurant I'd wanted to visit. When I got there, it was too early for dinner and I thought it would be pretty expensive, so I took some pictures and then walked ten minutes or so to a Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) restaurant I'd seen from the taxi on the way to this place. I got some good pictures and some good cheap soup!
I planned long and hard for this trip and it was all worth it since everything went so smoothly. Now I only have to figure out where I'm going in 2012. Any suggestions anyone?
Thanks to everyone for reading my blog and sending messages to me (directly or indirectly) about what I've been doing. I'm thinking about continuing the blog in China this year - one of my resolutions is to do one "touristy" thing each month. When you live in a city, you pretty much go to the same spots all the time and then wonder why you don't get to see everything the city has to offer. That won't be the case for me this year. My time in Vietnam has been a great experience and has definitely brought some changes to the way I see things and plan to do things in the future. Until next time...