It was a long, wet, tiresome, yet enthralling ride I had through the outstanding sceneries of the South Vietnamese Highlands, till I was finally approaching the coastal city of Nha Trang by late afternoon that day.
Driving through the outskirts of that city was no different than driving through any large, bustling Vietnamese city. Upon reaching the center of the city, though, the whole situation took a sharp turn… So that I had to doubt my sanity telling me that I am located in Vietnam, as my senses were plainly striving to convince me that, by some quizzical accident, I must have ended up in some resort-town of Krasnodar or Crimea.
Nha Trang was definitely a touristic city. Its so-elected as among world’s most beautiful, many-kilometers-long beach was abounding with beach-bars, sun-beds, and water-sport services from side to side. And before, and all along the beach, mountain-high hotel-towers were succeeding one another until the point were new ones were currently being built. And behind them, smaller hotels, restaurants, clubs, rip-off-travel-agencies, massage-(and-what-may-come-with-it)-places, stupid-bauble-shops and every sort of living-on-tourists-people’s enterprises were to be found.
There were quite many Chinese tourists strolling up and down the streets, some few Europeans… but the preeminence was overwhelmingly belonging to the Russians. Not only that it happened so, but it necessarily had to be so, as the city has been designed for a Russian resort – in a sort of a modern colonizing manner. Huge Russian capitals seem to have been thrown into this city’s economy, generating the appropriately enormous profits for the various involved Russian industries (the mafia apparently playing a prominent role) and the cooperating with them “Communist” party of Vietnam.
The city was wholly Russian-orientated. Inscriptions, info, menus, etc… were mainly written in the Russian language. Many of the locals were as well readily speaking Russian, much more than English… In fact, I found it there easier to communicate with the locals in Russian than I had, in any place in Vietnam, found it in English. The locals, though they do not, of course, share any fairly with the above-mentioned speculators, have also made quite a fortune for themselves. They generally do receive in their city tourists of the best rich/naive combination Russia and the rest posses – the “I only pack my bag and I pay for all the rest” kind of tourists -, so they can sweatlessly and remorselessly overcharge up to ten- or even twentyfold the ordinary prices of the country.
The situation being such, I did not see any good reason for me to be there. I got my rest for the day, and next morning I was ready to set off to the north. A friend of mine, who happened to be there, was to join for some of the way, before turning back again and I continue further north. Our destination was to be the Ba Ho Waterfalls.
We took the highway and left it at a point some 20 km to the north. There was a very picturesque dirt-road leading west into the hinterland, passing through some small traditional villages and charming natural sceneries. No later than some 20 minuets we had reached the end of the road where the trail to the waterfalls begins. So to proceed, we were asked to pay a small fee, by a bunch of some idle chaps sitting in a circle at a shady spot and helping themselves to get more drunk than they already were, and we started on our short hike.
It was a nice route, running first through the forest by the bank of the river and then down, upon the rocks of the river, where some pleasant scrambling was to be done crossing from bank to bank and up and down the bluffs. There were some more people utilizing the trail, but not as many as I was afraid there would be, bearing in mind the vicinity of the waterfalls to Nha Trang. We also did see a few other interesting living things: mainly insects, serpents and birds. The waterfalls themselves… there were three successive of them, each one with its own subtle qualities of beauty. There were several clear, cool ponds to swim in, and various cliffs of different height for cliff-jumping around them.
So we spent some few relaxing hours. By noon time we were back to the highway, whereupon my friend headed south, back to Nha Trang, and I reassumed my lonely way to the north, following the immensely long Vietnamese highways.