Going Troppo

Nha Trang is a city of 300,000 people on the coast of south-central Vietnam. It is blessed with a tropical climate, which means it has only two seasons: wet and dry. It is set in a beautiful bay punctuated by rocky peninsulas (Hon Chongs) and numerous small islands. It is really the start of a series of three gorgeous bays that begin at Nha Trang and head south to Diamond Bay and Cam Ranh Bay. I was looking forward to Nha Trang: it's where my friend and host Peter, and his lovely wife My Le, have built their new home and hotel.

You are likely to misunderstand Nha Trang if you read only the tourist guide descriptions. Most tend to concentrate on the beach culture – and the beaches are beautiful, there's no doubt about that – and they describe it as "beach culture and partying to the max". Yes, there is that, if that's what turns you on, but there is a lot more besides. Nha Trang is an intriguing mix of culture and beach culture, of hedonism and history. Within a short ride from the beach you can immerse yourself in the beauty of the Cham temples built a millennium ago by a Hindu–worshipping people who had come from Borneo even earlier, or in one of many Buddhist pagodas, like the one with the giant Buddha sitting atop a hill and visible sunlit or floodlit a few kilometres straight ahead from Peter and My Le's 6th floor terrace.

Part view of the Po Nagar Cham Temple, Nha Trang

Barefoot prayers, Po Nagar

Interior with Buddhist Shrine, Po Nagar Temple, Nha Trang
The Giant Buddha at the Long Son Pagoda, Nha Trang

Ashes of the departed, Long Son Pagoda, Nha Trang

Long Son Pagoda

Sleeping Buddha, Long Son Pagoda, Nha Trang

Interior, Long Son Pagoda, Nha Trang

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