We flew out of Incheon airport and we landed in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) a little over 5 hours later. We flew on Vietnam Airlines and had no troubles. The meal was decent, the movies were decent and everyone had thier own screen on the back of the chair in front of them. This is how I rate airlines. Food and movies. They also had free newspapers, but they were all Korean and Vietnamese. We arrived at Ho Chi Mihn City and promplty made our way over to the domestic terminal and hopped another flight to Nha Trang. 45 minutes later we were looking at the beach.
We came to Vietnam mainly because my friends wanted beach. I've always wanted to see Vietnam, although the beach wasn't my top priority, I wasn't going to complain. We compromised and at the end of the trip we're going to spend 2 1/2 days in Ho Chi Minh City before we head back to Seoul.
We were picked up at the airport by our hotel and they drove us along the highway that goes along the beautiful coastline to our hotel. We checked in (everything was already paid for through a bank transfer we made in Korea) and went to our rooms. We had to forfeit our passports, but they will keep them for us in thier safe. I feel a little safer that way... I think... But that is standard procedure at all Vietnamese hotels.
We settled ourselves in our rooms and then headed out in search of food. We found a small restarurant that served both western and Vietnamese food (as most restaruants seem to in this tourist/beach town) and while prices are slightly higher than I had expected, they are still much cheaper than Korea and much much cheaper than in the US. The exchange rate is a little complicated to think about for me though. It's 17,000 Dong= $1.00. Or should I be thinking of 1,000 Won= 13,000 Dong? Either way it's rather cumbersome math.
The single most depressing part of this vacation so far has been the weather. We came here to soak up the sun, but we really haven't seen the sun yet, and we've been here for 2 1/2 days. The forcast for the rest of the week doesn't look very promising either. But.. we've been trying to make the best of it. We went to the beach yesterday and today. Today we stayed almost the entire day, and I already have the sunburn to prove it. I think I need to start following the Korean's lead and cover myself up from head to toe at the beach. I don't really need a tan. Especially not in Korea where the whiter your skin the more attractive you are.
Today we saw a huge group of Koreans here at the beach. They are unmistakable, even if I hadn't heard them talking. Something about the noises they make when the waves hit them, the way they travel in packs, and how the boys wear long shorts in the water and the girls wear long sleeves (if they even go in the water).
There are many nationalities here in Nha Trang. We've encountered very few Americans, but plenty of Australians and folks from the UK. I've heard some other European languages too, such as French and German. There were some other languages that I wasn't quite able to pin down. Behind us on the plane was a Japanese family too. It's kind of cool to see so many nationalities. I know there are plenty of other nationalities in Seoul, but since my school only hires Americans and Canadians I have very few friends from elsewhere.
As for Vietnam itself I am absolutly astounded by how traditional many of the people still are. Whenever you see photos of Vietnam, they are always wearing those pointy straw hats. I thought that was just something farmers in the rice paddies wore, and that today in modern times they would have shed thier straw hats for baseball caps or something. But not at all. Everywhere I look people are wearing those hats. I think maybe they keep off the rain, a sort of umbrella that you don't have to hold in your hand. Also, in my hotel, along with many stores and restaruant, you see small buddhist shrines with burning incense. So interesting.
I will post soon about Vietnamese vendors, because I think that they deserve their own post. I haven't taken many photos yet, but I hope to get some good ones soon!!