*** All images taken with Fuji X-Pro 1 and 35mm f1.4 lens ***
I'm not sure if it was because I was back to sweltering in the summer heat and humidity after a week or so in the cool of the highlands, or if it was because all the menus were written in Vietnamese, English and Russian...but I didn't really connect that well with Nha Trang. It's a tourist town, although not the worst one I've visited. My main reason for being there was to do some diving, and to connect with some local photographers in the hope of being able to capture some more authentic images of Vietnam. Just north of Nha Trang is where they make the salt by cordoning off shallow areas of sea water to induce evaporation. Unfortunately it had been too rainy for any evaporation to occur, so there was no chance for me to capture any of the beautiful images I'd seen. To see some of the images I would loved to have created have a look at Long Than's gallery. Actually, have a look at all of his work...it's all beautiful. He still uses BW film and prints his own work. I didn't managed to meet with him while I was there, although I did visit his gallery and was truly inspired. I find that a lot of the Vietnamese photography I've seen so far is generally BW and low-key (dark) and can be a bit styled (they often pose their subjects), but Long Than's work can be slightly more candid and photojournalist. Anyway...I'm being sidetracked...just have a look at his work to see what I mean. I think all the BW imagery is influencing me too! I'm still going to keep some colour though - there's too much of it here to not show it.
I did do a couple of dives while I was there, and it was pleasant enough but not amazing. I was the only diver on the boat, so it was quite nice to get the VIP treatment...actually...I was the only client on the boat on the way out and back as the other guests were Vietnamese and they travelled out to the island by speedboat. Apparently they get seasick (the water was like glass that day)! And I also learned that most Vietnamese can't swim, despite having such a long coastline and numerous rivers and lakes. It's not something taught in schools and money doesn't get set aside for lessons...so you can spot the Vietnamese by looking for the bright orange life vests bobbing on the surface and kicking like mad below. It was a funny site when I looked up from the bottom :)
There was quite a lot of good healthy coral at my dive sites, and the offshore islands are now national park territory and I saw a few areas where they have put in some frames and structures to generate new coral growth. They don't have much soft coral though, and I only saw two anemone with Nemo fish. There was also a real lack of fish life, particularly the larger size regulars such as parrot fish. Everything gets over-fished here, with little regard for size limits or seasons, so I suspect that's part of the reason behind the lack of fish life. I saw my first Leaf fish (very nice and white), and very cute coral shrimp, so it wasn't all bad. There was no current, and the water was warm so it was some of the most relaxed diving I've ever done. Just don't expect to be blown away if you're planning on diving in Vietnam. Perhaps some of the remote islands in the south would be better.
The main town of Nha Trang is not very beautiful (in my opinion). Most people come here for the beach and islands, and also the nightlife based on the number of bars I saw. I stayed out of town in the more local area, which was more interesting to me. It was nice to see a lot of local life on the streets at night, and on the beach early in the morning and late afternoon. The Vietnamese tend to go swimming (wading) fully clothed and the first thing I saw most mornings was a convoy of fully clothed, dripping wet people walking from the beach back to their hotels (it's high season for domestic tourists at this time of year). The tide was low in the afternoons, and as the water receded the locals started foraging for anything that moved. I saw them coming back with plastic bags filled with trophy snails, crabs, molluscs and starfish...all destined for the pot I guess. The poor ocean doesn't stand a chance! And it's a nice romantic thing to do with a loved one...!
Anyway, enough chatter from me. Have a browse through the slideshow to get a view of what I saw in this town. I didn't take my camera with me on the dive trip so there aren't any shots of life on the ocean I'm afraid. Guess which guy won the board game (I think it was a variation of checkers), and make sure you look out for the very foxy pregnant mannequins...and the guy getting a mani pedi! I also tested the panorama function on my camera and I'm more than pleased with the results. This is far easier than taking multiple shots and stitching them together in Photoshop.
Next stop on the journey is the very charming Hoi An.
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