I am sitting at a traffic circle just watching the world go by when.. A very dirty and probably shell shocked man of about 60 walked directly across the circle with his intention directly aimed at me. He stopped, gave me a crisp salute, and then went into a long speech in very bad English. I listened not hearing much of anything and let him go on. When he was finished, I stood up from my motorcycle. Nodded to him, and fished out a 2000 note. Unlike a beggar, he accepted the note as a payment for the report he had given…. Saluted, and stiffly walked across the dangerous traffic circle as if it was not there. I was lucky… I called that one correctly…
I now have my Vietnamese drivers license!! I no longer have to carry my passport. I have local ID. I am a little disappointed though. I was told that I would qualify for all the same vehicles my Canadian license was good for, however, they seemed to have changed their mind and only issued me a license for motorcycles under 175 cc and cars. Oh well…. I had no intention of driving a bus here anyway, but it would have been nice to say I could.
NhaTrang is a city on the move. I wrote earlier that there were really no supermarkets here and that almost all shopping was done in little neighborhood open air markets. NhaTrang is surging into modern times so quickly, I marvel at some of the things I see. There was only one so called supermarket here, and a very poor one at that, is called the Maximark. It existed 11 years ago when I was here and still exists to this day. Now it looks like it’s days are numbered. Yesterday they opened a new location which is the first shopping mall like place in NhaTrang. It is the closest thing to a shopping mall here so far. The first floor has a real supermarket with things I have been trying to find here for a long time. The second and third floor has clothing, kitchenware, jewelry, and gift items like many other store. It is probably more like a version of a superstore kind of set up which goes by many different names depending your location. It is built up in floors instead of large in ground area.
There is also a new complex under construction that will be called the NhaTrang Mall. The sign says opening soon, but the building still looks far from completion. On this post is a couple of photo’s of a street with construction fences and projects in the works. All of the tall buildings over 5 floors are new within the last 5 years, and mostly within the last couple. The tallest is the Sheraton, a brand new hotel opening in the next few weeks. The other fenced off areas are other giant hotels being built by large hotel chains… the names escape me at the moment, but they are as familiar as the Sheraton. I am saddened to see the large hotels being built. The location used to be occupied by a large variety of shops. Old French colonial buildings and hotels, restaurants, and other businesses that made the street a pleasure to walk along. These new hotels are taking up almost all of the beachfront road. Before long, the beach area will be where people just go to get pampered and lay on the beach. I have no doubt that there will be security to chase off any of the locals that want to use the beach when the projects are finished. It seems a shame.
There is a little hope though….. The north side of the river crossing bridge is still undiscovered by the big chains. It is still a place where a person can get good value, merge with the locals, eat great food, and relax on a not to busy public beach, however, who knows how long that will last. Also, there are not a lot of curio shops, a person has to go a couple of kilometers to do their shopping.
NhaTrang is roaring into modern times whether it likes it or not. Myself? I would have liked the modern shopping, but am saddened at what the big hotels are doing to the beachfront.
A travelers tip…
The Maximark is a great place to check out an item you are interested in purchasing. Find the tagged price ,and then go to the market armed with the knowledge. Because of the overhead, the Maximark will be a bit more expensive. ( maybe 1000 on a 10000 item )
See if you can get a deal. Myself????? I almost always try to hammer a person down in price, make the deal, then sometimes pay the original asking price if close to the true value, just because I know I am helping in a very small way to support people who work hard for little profit. Nothing is for free, but a person can help a bit when they can.