Having to travel by scooter leaves me sweaty and knackered. Every so often, it’s hard to move around. The fatigue stays with you until the next day. The main causes of fatigue are the intense sunlight, high temperatures and long hours in the same position and tremors from the bike. After several hours of driving in the heat, we arrived at our hotel in Cam Ranh. This time, we stayed not by the beach, but in a location a few minutes by motorbike to the sea. The beachfront in Cam Ranh was in the middle of a large resort development and there were no inexpensive hotels to stay in.
The Vietnamese manager of this hotel, where I stayed in Cam Ranh, spoke Japanese. I felt at ease being able to converse in Japanese in Cam Ranh, my first time in the country. By the way, the number of Japanese speakers in Vietnam is increasing. In my opinion, there are two types of Japanese speakers: those who communicate with the intention of the conversation based on Japanese culture and customs, and those who do not. Unfortunately, the latter is currently prominent among the Vietnamese. They know the vocabulary and grammar and can speak Japanese, but they are unable to communicate in a way that captures the key intentions. Foreigners simply want you to understand the intention of the conversation, and most of the time they simply want you to do so. Most of the time, people do not necessarily want to have fluent conversations. I have had conversations like this with Vietnamese people. I was in a shop for the first time and asked, “Can I see your menu?” I asked. The Vietnamese replied in Japanese in a friendly manner, “We will be closing soon for a break”. That was the end of the conversation. If we don’t combine learning a foreign language with learning to communicate, to know the world, the culture and customs of the language, and to know people, translation will soon be replaced by AI robots. Computers are sufficient for dry conversations.
Checked in to the room. Nice view from the hotel room. A big rainbow is overhead. However, there was a problem with this hotel room. Because it was a corner room with entirely glass walls, the sun shone strongly and the air-conditioning did not work. So we spent all daytime with the curtains closed. The curtains are closed at night as well, as you can see everything from the outside. The all-glass walls are meaningless.
Come nightfall. The hotel is a non-smoking hotel and we are non-smokers. Yet, there were cigarette smokes coming into the room. When we went towards the wall where we could smell the smoke, there was a gap of a few centimetres between us and the neighbouring room. It seems that the gap between the rooms could not be bridged because of the all-glass wall. If you stuck your phone through the wall, you could easily take a picture of the opposite room. Naturally, sounds are also being made and noisy conversations are being held in Chinese with a thick provincial accent next door. These problems are nothing new to living in Vietnam. However, the fact that the design of this room was not rejected at the planning stage is far fetched from my point of view. Maybe it was a connecting room design where the entire wall with the neighbouring room could be taken, but even so, the design concept is just off. There is too little concept of privacy.
The next morning, when I opened the door to my room, a bowl of cigarette butts was put out in front of the door of the room next door. I thought that would be a problem again tonight, so I told the hotel manager, who can speak Japanese, about this. “There were people smoking in the next room.” And he immediately said: “Smoking in the next room? No, they weren’t smoking.” To which I said, “Did you check?” And he said, “Yes, I checked.” From the way he looked at me, he seemed to think there was no evidence of that. He then corrected that statement but still did not apologise. A common experience here.
Well, we are on a surf trip and we haven’t surfed for a month. Let’s go check the waves and look for surf spots.
Cam Ranh is a long stretch of beach, like Da Nang. So checking the points is easy, just look for places where the terrain seems to be easy to determine. Then you need to consider the size, wind direction and tide.
The coastline of Cam Ranh is dusty in the midst of resort development, and the median strip causes many vehicles to drive in the wrong direction, which is a downside. However, the coast is similar to Da Nang in that it has been cleaned, there are almost no fishermen, no fish farms or processing plants, and the sea is in good condition. The waves are small, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen a decent sight of the sea and I’m tempted to go in. It’s onshore, but I decide to surf.
Bai Dai Nha Trang is a beach located in the northern part of Cam Ranh. This is the main beach in Cam Ranh, where there are no resort hotels yet and the road is well maintained, making it easy to get to the beach. There are surfing schools and rental surfboards, and it is expected to become the next surf city after Da Nang. However, due to geographical conditions, the size of the beach is likely to be smaller than that of Da Nang.
Had a haircut at the local barbershop. The haircut cost me less than 200 JPY.
Bai Dai Nha Trang. A few beginner surfers are floating. This sea water clarity would be pleasant even without waves.
Some of the best places for beginner surfers to surf in Vietnam for tourism purposes are between My Khe Beach and Hoi An in Da Nang, here in Bai Dai Nha Trang and in front of Sea Links City in Phan Thiet. All of these places are generally limited to days when the surf is small and the wind is light.
Birds in Bai Dai Nha Trang. Cam Ranh is a scenic resort with mountain nature around the development. It is probably superior to Da Nang in terms of natural spectacularness and town design.
No rainy season swell or typhoon swell yet and small waves continue. I want to surf in good waves though it was expected.
The waves have increased in size somewhat to about waist level. Small waves, but offshore and doable. The sea water is super clean and I decided to go in. I wonder how long it’s been since I’ve surfed in such clean water and offshore conditions. The waves weren’t that good, but it was great to surf with surf trunks in this clear sea water.
In the end, this round of surfing in Cam Ranh was the only one with decent waves and it went flat again. The waves don’t last in Vietnam at this time of year.
A row of shops on the north side of Bai Dai Nha Trang, where foreigners also enjoy the sea
Long Cam Ranh coastline. On the right is Cam Ranh airport. There is an international airport in Cam Ranh. Incidentally, the neighbouring city of Nha Trang does not have an airport, so when people speak of an airport in Nha Trang, they are referring to Cam Ranh Airport.
We continue to live in rural Vietnam and are getting tired of Vietnamese food all the time. Food is a problem that often occurs when living abroad. We never had problems with food in Japan, so we were essentially unaware of it. Even in Cam Ranh, there were only local food on the streets, and I was feeling limited every day. So, it was decided to go to Cam Ranh airport. I thought that there would be something other than Vietnamese food at the airport.
Arrived at Cam Ranh International Airport, 20 minutes by scooter.
The old and new airports are right next to each other. We parked our bikes on the old airport side and looked for food. We later realised that the motorbike parking on the new airport side is free, larger, clean and easy to park in.
The signage provided information in English, Chinese and Russian, in addition to Vietnamese. These are the three main foreign languages in Vietnam. In some places, Korean is added to this. And there are many French people in Vietnam. Which countries are compatible and have close relations with which countries and why? Why are there so few Japanese in Vietnam? You can’t teach these important things at school. Experiencing the world, which can only be seen by living in the same country for a long period of time, is the beginning of learning about the world. It is interesting to go to the airport first. You can see the unique characteristics of the country and its people there.
The new airport looks like it has just been built and is very clean. Chinese people are usually seen with suitcases spread out in the middle of the way.
After this, I was stopped by security for just filming. I guess it’s rare that people come to film when there are no flights. I told them what happened and was immediately released.
Then, the intended foreign meal was spaghetti and Burger King. The taste is just as I imagined. It is hard to do a long surf trip in a food environment where you want to eat fast food. This is also a sacrifice to see point breaks you have never seen before, in order to surf at a secluded, uninhabited surf spot.
Bai Dai Nha Trang. Cam Ranh is the beach here.
No waves at all but dine in the sea. Ordered Vietnamese fried noodles. As expected, tasteless, expensive, bad customer service. Might have chosen the wrong restaurant.
Tomorrow we leave Cam Ranh and move to Nha Trang City. The only thing on my mind is non-Vietnamese rice. I want to eat soy sauce or miso-flavoured food.
The beaches in Cam Ranh were very nice and clean. However, in the future, the resort will be rapidly developed and the population will increase, which will increase the number of tourists and cars. The coastal road has a median strip and seems to have been designed with the car society in mind. So I think the rural atmosphere will disappear. However, as it is a beach resort development, I believe that the clarity of the sea will be preserved.
A view of Bai Dai Nha Trang, before moving on to the city of Nha Trang.
(Surf trip record: Cam Ranh, Khanh Hoa Province, Vietnam – September 2019)