Dark Reef check before heading to the hotel opposite to Hon Chong Beach
It was a long, slow drive on a motorbike from Cam Ranh to Nha Trang on the day of the move. It was hot on this trip too. On the way, we checked out a reef break surf spot called Dark Reef. Unfortunately, there were no waves at all at Dark Reef. This point break is surrounded by mountains and islands, so I don’t think it is a surf spot where you can surf very often. Conditions may only improve once every few years. However, if a solid swell comes in, it will be a classic point with high expectations.
It takes about two hours from Cam Ranh to enter Nha Trang City. It has been a long time since I have been to a city. We drive along the coastline to the hotel we have already booked. The city is built in a resort-like style. I am a country dweller who is strongly feeling the ‘city vibe’.
Nha Trang property agents lacking integrity
Arrive at the reserved hotel. The accommodation is located right in front of Hon Chong Beach of Nha Trang. It appears to be a room in one of these flats. Similar architectural structure to the Muong Thanh Hotel next door and the same group of buildings, which is the same pattern as in Da Nang.
I went to the ground floor entrance of the building where I was to meet the hotel staff, carrying a lot of luggage. I was greeted by a female and a male staff member who were looking artificial and dressed in a way that would give of an impression that of a member of Muong Thanh. The hotel staff kindly helped us carry our luggage to the upper floors. By the time we got to the hotel lift, we realised that Chinese were the main visitors in Nha Trang. When we got on the lift, they would come in one after the other. There was no “after you”. Then we went up. One floor on the 30th floor of an apartment building seems to be the hotel here. A building-sharing hotel with a different hotel on each floor. Just like Hong Kong.
When we were shown to our rooms, there were several lockers with locks, and each room had a key. When we asked the hotel staff about these facilities, which we did not need, they replied that they were shared rooms. It was a shared room that had been converted from one of the flats. It was not my intention to book a shared room, and I don’t want a shared room. So I immediately negotiated with the hotel. Then, the deal was easily agreed on the condition that the room would not be cleaned and no other guests would be allowed. Incidentally, the hotel was booked with breakfast included. The breakfast was instant noodles, etc., which is a standard menu of cheap Vietnamese hotel breakfasts. However, the hotel changed their mind and suddenly started saying that they charge for breakfast, so we didn’t eat it once. Other than that, we were told that the price for laundry service was three times higher than the price posted on the hotel wall. The calculation method is strange. We reported the whole thing to Airbnb, through which we booked the hotel.
There was no trust from the day of check-in. Everywhere you go in Vietnam, there is a part of lying and stress of petty tricks. I’ve been in Vietnam for three years, but the lying, petty tricks, it’s too often. During my stay at this hotel, I spoke to another female caucasian guest who said that the hotel had posted different terms and conditions on Airbnb and she had been cheated. Most of the time, there is more than one victim of such problem.
Reef surf spot opposite the hotel
The hotel room had a small veranda with a view of the beach between the buildings. A reef could be seen on the left side of the beach in front of us. This reef was definitely going to be a good wave when the swell comes in. There is another reef on the right side, which also looked like it could be surfed with regular breaks. I came here with almost no information about surfing in Nha Trang. My sources of information were weather reports and Google maps.
This time the hotel is right in front of Hon Chong Beach, which is also a surf spot. There are no waves, but it’s a good opportunity to go swimming. I didn’t want my flip flops to be stolen, so I decided to go barefoot. As a result, I stepped on a small piece of glass in front of the hotel on the way to the beach. This is an example of what happens when you walk barefoot on a concrete road in Vietnam. And the beach is right in front of me across the road, but it is difficult to cross the road in front of this hotel. I waited for a while at the pedestrian crossing, but there was no sign of any vehicle stopping. I thought I couldn’t cross this one, so I forced my way through. Traffic is bad in Nha Trang. Tourists and local Vietnamese were out on the beach in the evening. Hon Chong beach is narrow and has the atmosphere of an urban beach. The sea water was warm and muddy when seen up close. When I went into the sea, I felt the rubbish touching my body. I might have accidentally entered in a place where rubbish tends to accumulate. I did not check the tide graph, but it was a shallow beach for swimming where your feet touch the seabed. If you want to go swimming in Nha Trang City, Bai Tam Hon Chong in the north of the city seems to be a good place.
A person’s character mirrors their driving style
I believe that driving a car is an expression and easy-to-understand visualisation of a person’s personality. So if you want to know about Vietnamese people or the socialist country of Vietnam, you can immediately grasp the outer frame of it by looking at the way they drive. In Vietnam, both men and women of all ages drive motorbikes, so you can understand them well. People who are thinking of moving to Vietnam, people who are planning to visit Vietnam for work or tourism, or people who are worried about Vietnamese people living in Vietnam should start by watching and thinking and learning from this traffic. There are a few people in Japan who drive like Vietnamese, but it is easy to imagine what type of people they are. I think that image is almost the same here in Vietnam. The more you know about them, the easier it is to take action, to find a solution or a clue to the next step. Every country has different values, and both Japanese and Vietnamese values are justified in their own way.
The beach of Nha Trang City and surf season
Coast of Nha Trang City. Nha Trang city centre is surrounded by orange sandy beaches and blue sea. The sea is hard to get into with the swell and the beach erosion being severe and plunging deep. The sea is not shallow and deepens quickly, so it is not suitable for surfing or swimming. It may be good for fishing.
Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa Province, is surrounded by islands and peninsulas, so you can only pick up swell from a limited number of directions. Waves are infrequent, so if you want to hit the waves, it is best to go on a typhoon strike mission in autumn or in the first half of the winter top season, from late October to December. If possible, stay for more than two weeks. Incidentally, the winter surf season has been shortened for three seasons in a row since 2017-2018 season. In the second half of the season, around the beginning of the year – January, February and March – the swell tends to be weaker. The surf season in places like Nha Trang, which are not sensitive to the swell, has been shortened.
Nha Trang offers scenic coastal driving. There are many vehicles driving leisurely along the coastline and it is probably the most enjoyable coastline drive in Vietnam. The police are very strict about on-street parking along the Nha Trang coastline, and there are no cars parked on the street or waiting for taxis in front of hotels. The police are focused on control and functioning. This is another factor that increases the value of this coastline. The value of the city can be increased simply by strictly observing the law, rules and manners.
The quality of the business there and the people there is the same
Now, in order to eat a meal other than Vietnamese food, which I was expecting in this city, I went into a shopping mall called Nha Trang Centre, which is located around the centre of the city.
First, look at the mall’s information board. There seem to be restaurants on the third and fourth floors. However, the board misspells “Restaurant “. This would mean that there is one restaurant on the third floor and one on the fourth floor. Hm? The English translations on this noticeboard are full of mistakes. ‘Tollet’ is a instead of Toilet; ‘english school’ where a proper name should be uppercased, not, in this case, a lower-case e; ‘gyms’ is one gym. ‘gyms’ – noting that there is only one gym, so there is no need for the plural ‘s’. Likewise with ‘playgrounds’ – also no s. ‘playgrounds’, also without the ‘s’. If there is more than one, the words are different and it is not called a playground. ‘Supper market’, with one p and in a form of one word, Supermarket. ‘convenience store’, not ‘convenience shop’; ‘cosmetics’ is correct as ‘cosmetic’ would mean only one type of product, or instead of adding ‘s’ to the end of it, perhaps putting it as ‘Cosmetic store’ would be an alternative too. ‘coffee-milktea’ is a product name, so cafe is correct. ‘Parking’ should be ‘parking space’, and the shop map at the top, Playgrounds and Games, both need no final ‘s’.
This guide edition will be a good reference for you to know where Vietnam is now, Vietnamese people, Vietnamese life and Vietnamese work. And only those who can appreciate this can stay here.
Now, use the elevator to go up. Then we arrive at the food court and choose a restaurant. Turkish or Indian food were looked promising candidates, but for today we chose Indian food.
The food is good enough for a food court. The food court here offers a view of the beach, air-conditioned, cool and has few flies. Incidentally, if you are looking for Indian food in Nha Trang, Ganesh Indian Restaurant is one of the best.
The beach in front of me is not a surf spot because of the depth of the water, but I used to use this place from time to time for that reason, as it gives a good idea of the conditions of the swell.
In Nha Trang, if you could ride a few waves on the beach here, it would probably be a situation where you could surf at other surf spots.
Ice cream after dinner. This is the first foreign ice-cream shop in a while. Again, the ice cream cup size and Vietnamese notation are different. It’s hard to understand. But I don’t mind. It’s like a quiz. This ice cream was very sweet with a Western flavour. Anyway, after being satisfied with the taste of non-Vietnamese food for the first time in a long time, we left the shopping mall. Then we took a ride on a scooter to explore the city.
Wandering around the streets of Nha Trang
The beach is crowded with people, although the shore is deep and you can only play in the lapping waves. The beach seems to be cleaned regularly and there is little rubbish on the beach.
Business made in Nha Trang coast. Beach parasols and beach loungers spread out on the beach.
Locals also like the sea. The sea here only reveals its sandy beach at low tide.
All the ice cream is full of frost, once it has melted and lost its shape. I want to eat crispy Nonaka ice cream.
Spotted crocodile meat store on the street.
This was taken in the residential building where we were staying. Pile of recycled plastic bottles. Someone will probably collect them, but the place to put them is in the corridor.
Nha Trang Surfing Information
The photo was taken from the room of the condominium. On the right is the regular Hon Chong Reef. On the left is Nha Trang City Reef, which is both regular and goofy break wave. Paddle out is easy as there is a clear current in the middle. If you can do the take-off properly, even beginners can do this reef break.
The bottom is a sand mix and the reef type is rough and bumpy. The waves are gentle on take-off, so the risk of reef collision is minimal if you don’t push too hard. I saw one Vietnamese surfer and about 15 foreigners. There were no Japanese surfer around. Everyone seemed to be enjoying surfing individually. This is a surf spot where you can enjoy surfing, so if you have the waves and a board, this is the place you want to go. Nha Trang seemed to have several other spots where you can surf if the swell comes in.
This area of Nha Trang is a point break. So it is important that people with the level of ability to ride the waves basically take turns to ride the waves. Another consideration is the number of surfers entering the water at the same time. For example, up to two surfers can enter the water at the same time; if there are more than three, the point and timing of entry should be varied; if there are more than five, it is good if no one is in the water, but if someone enters, it may be necessary to go up or change the spot.
Nha Trang will eventually become a crowded sea with surfers, so it’s better to have a good point break rule now. There are surfers in the world who claim priority over waves because they are local, because they always do it there or because they clean the beach, although such case are not in Vietnam yet. But that is a shameful act that asserts that surfer’s narrow worldview. I want to be a surfer who can get others to give me waves, rather than asking them to give me waves. Also, surfing is an individual sport and there are no point breaks where groups are welcome.
Hon Chong reef spot. Regular waves breaking. The rock on the right marks Hon Chong Beach. It’s just a big rock, but it’s a paid tourist attraction and Chinese tourists are happily taking photos.
View to the left of Hon Chong Beach. Nha Trang City reef spot in front of here is a good spot for regular shoulder and slow, goofy waves. Behind is a good view of the mountains with plenty of nature.
From locals to foreigners, Hon Chong Beach attracts people every day in the evening.
The deceitful Vietnamese and the supporting people who lied about what happened in Airbnb
We stayed in a condo in front of the sea for a week. We couldn’t extend our stay at the same rate, we had credibility issues with them and the area around the flat was too noisy with Chinese people, so we decided to move out. We thought it would be better to be near the Hon Chong Beach if the swell was coming in, so we booked a property that had the best reviews and seemed to have no problems among several hits in this vicinity.
Then moving on. Arrived at the accommodation with a lot of luggage. It is like a room in a large house. On arrival, the host tells you that you first need to sign this contract. The contract states that ‘a certain amount of electricity will be charged separately’. This differs from what is posted on Airbnb, where the electricity bill is all-inclusive. Electricity in Vietnam is as expensive as in Japan. Moreover, Vietnam is hot, the construction and construction level is low and there is a lot of lost energy. So the electricity bill in Vietnam is very high depending on how you use it and the environment of the room. So I immediately said, “This is different from the Airbnb posting, so I can’t sign it. Is that okay?” I asked. However, the host insisted again and again that this was the same as the Airbnb posting and that signature was mandatory. Below is an image of the contract at that time.
We had no choice but to contact Airbnb to report the incident, but this hostess lied and refused to admit she had lied. Then this woman, she was a real sly fox who told one lie after another. She said she won’t give refunds. We were stuck with a terrible person.
Eventually, the prepaid accommodation was refunded in full and the woman’s accommodation posting was amended.
This woman later stated in my personal Airbnb review that I refused to sign a long-stay document to be submitted to the government, which is not true. I did not refuse to sign that document. She even sent me a message saying she would sue me and that she would see me in court (it’s been a few years now and she still hasn’t sued me). Incidentally, the woman’s partner is believed to be Dutch. I recognised some of the English messages because the language level and content was different from that of the deceitful woman. I could see that there was a foreigner behind the scene providing logistical support to this kind of person, and I understood that this was the case in a number of ways.
Nevertheless, Airbnb staff often believed what this fox said and were on the side of the inn until the end. It might help Airbnb financially if the number of accommodations was higher. Support ends at 9pm, after which it is English only. Moreover, we had to pay for the international phone calls, and the same questions were asked repeatedly. I was so dissatisfied.
In Vietnam, the actual Airbnb postings often differ from the reality. As an example, the following tactics are prevalent. First, a luxury property is posted at a slightly discounted price to attract customers, who then visit the site on the same day. Then, they start by saying, “Oh, that room is already occupied by another guest…”. Then they introduce a vacant room in the same building or in the neighbourhood for a reason. They are then pressured into signing a contract directly without Airbnb. At that point, the user usually arrives at the destination tired and has a journey planned. Therefore, they are hesitant to look for other accommodation from that stage. And this is how it goes. They are really vicious and target the traveller’s blind spot. And they do it with a straight face.
Back to the story, the lying host gave up trying to make us stay in one of their rooms and we had no choice but to return to our original flat. After that, we immediately started looking for our next accommodation, as it was time to go. We were tired of moving around and decided to stay in a flat in the same block. We found a room in the opposite apartment building through Airbnb and went to have a look. I didn’t want to see if it was different from what was posted. I got in touch with the host right away, and we met up on the ground floor of the apartment building opposite and took the lift up to the upper floors. Two women came to pick me up at this time, but from the looks of them, they have rather bad faces with artificial hands. From their physiognomy, I thought, ah, this property might not work either. And I was still taken to a completely different property; I looked at two different rooms and they were both different. These girls said the rooms were, as they said, “Same same”.
The next inn after that was also different.
I gave up trying to find a hotel in front of Hon Chong Beach and finally settled in a hotel in the centre of town. This host was pleasant to converse with. I was saved. The Airbnb hosts’ professional backgrounds are publicly available on the site, and some of them are bankers. I can see what it’s about. In fact, I wasted nine hours of my time and energy because of this Airbnb problem. In the end, it was after midnight when this problem was solved.
This one thing makes us stronger again.
When you live in Vietnam, you seldom eat Vietnamese food
Since I had to stay in the city centre, I was even closer to food other than Vietnamese food. The only time I ate Vietnamese food while in Vietnam was the first few weeks after I first arrived, about three months when I was hanging out with Vietnamese people a lot, and when my friends came to visit me over.
Authentic fried rice made by Chinese Muslims. It was delicious and I was hooked and went there often. However, the hygiene is poor and the taste is inconsistent, so I finally stop going there. This happens a lot in Vietnam. In Japan, the service gets better and better or the same, but in Vietnam it can become dull and familiar. In other words, it depends on the person’s mood. But I would like to go back.
First surfing in the city centre of Nha Trang
The hotel where we were staying was almost in the centre of town, so we could check out the sea. It was ideal for the first time in a new place as you can see the wind direction and swell.
Since the beach is within walking distance, I decide to surf in the centre of Nha Trang town. I know the waves aren’t good, but it’s a chance to surf where no one else is surfing, so I give it a go for a round.
A thought on Nha Trang’s Beach at night
Strolling through Nha Trang City at night. People dancing in the square. I think this kind of open-air community is a good concept.
Chinese people hogging the pavement. Walking the streets of Nha Trang, there were many Chinese and Russians.
Beach at night. Because the beach and the city streets run parallel to each other, it is possible to stroll along the beach at night. I rarely go out at night, so I don’t know about actual security.
Nha Trang City Beach. The Ferris wheel of the resort hotel is visible.
On this trip, while I often feel the goodness of my own country, Japan, I met decent Vietnamese people who gave me energy and managed to keep me going. However, in Nha Trang, I was exhausted beyond my mental peak. This is Vietnam, not Japan, that’s all. We decided to take the Vietnamese rules into account once more and move on. The aim was to enjoy a private, uninhabited surf at a point break we hadn’t seen yet. That’s it. We still have a long way to go on our trip.
Typical example of a Vietnamese road sign. Hanoi is said to be right here. Incidentally, Hanoi is 1,300 km from this sign. The use of this type of expression when indicating a direction shows the spatial awareness thought process of the Vietnamese people. This thought process is similar to that of Australian Aborigines, who use the directions east, west, north, south and west to express their location. If this thought process were applied to road signs in Tokyo, they would be “← Fukuoka, Sendai →”. If such a sign were seen in Tokyo, many people would probably get lost.
(Surf trip record: Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa Province, Vietnam – September 2019)