Daily Archives: 2009-10-28

Getting Dirty to get Clean – Nha Trang, Vietnam

After eating a quick breakfast, a group of us met in the coffee bar to tender ashore to Nha Trang, Vietnam. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I had not done even the least bit of research. All I knew is that for currency they use the “dong” and I only knew that because it was a question of the day for the Breakfast Show. Apparently the dong is not a very strong currency so most shops and vendors prefer the almighty US dollar to their own dong.

Instantly, I was impressed by the blast of humid warm air as I stepped off the ship. I looked around and noticed that there were lots of small green mountains. I was delighted that it was so pretty and there was lots of nature to be had.

We took a shuttle to Dam Market which was in the middle of this small beach/fishing town. It was cluttered and busy in every way. There were some areas with very strong fishy smells which we moved away from pretty quickly. I also saw some snakes in bottles of drink and wondered if this was their version of the worm in the tequila.

Nha Trang is poorer than most of the other ports we’d been to which also means that the prices are lower. I found some beautiful Asian dresses to buy and got them for under ten dollars each. They were Vietnamese style and looked elegant and fun to wear. I was excited to wear them because along with being beautiful, they were extremely comfortable. Infact, people weren’t sure if they were supposed to be pajamas or not.

Next we took a taxi to the mud baths where we signed up for the full meal deal. How could we not when it was under 15 dollars for several hours of healing? First we had a cleansing shower then we were directed to a big tub which they began filling with the mineral mud. The mud was thick and goopy and warm. I have to admit that it was a really neat feeling glurping around in a tub of mucky goodness.

We were given buckets to make sure we were completely covered and smothered. I was happy to have a waterproof camera to capture the messy silliness. It was so much fun that I had to keep reminding myself it was good for me too. In fact, there was a moment we were gently hushed because we were laughing too loud. Opps! We tried to find the sacred spirituality of the ritual stifling our giggles as best we could.

After 15 minutes of soaking in the mineral mud, we were directed to rinse off all mud. I was pretty surprised at some of the places I was finding the gritty sludge. Just to be sure we got every last speck, we entered the high pressure spray. Think car wash but for people. I did run through the car wash once and can attest that it is a lot nicer when its people size. Next we soaked for a half hour in a warm mineral bath before heading to the big swimming pool and waterfall.

After our swim, it was time to get our 6 dollar massage. The room was small and narrow and dimly lit. I asked the thin Vietnamese girl who was assigned to me to turn off the fans that were aimed at the massage table. I am a rarity, I know, because she looked a little puzzled when I tried to explain that I was cold. She shrugged and did as I asked then proceeded to knead away. At one point, it was like her hands changed completely and I wondered what new technique this was. Then, I realized that she was actually walking on my back! It was the first time I had that and I couldn’t help but be scared that she was going to fall off. It was a neat experience indeed.

Afterwards, we all grabbed a drink at a café we saw that looked decent. I had a coconut, top chopped off and a straw stuck in it. The sweet coconut water was refreshing and sweet. I left the others to head across the street to a small beauty salon that didn‘t look like it had seen a customer all day. I tried to communicate with the young ladies that I wanted a manicure and pedicure. After a few minutes, they got to work, one on my hands and one on my feet. They did a great job so I paid them double. Considering the whole treatment cost only 3 it was small change for me but it seemed to mean a lot to them.

The others picked me up just as I was finishing and we walked down to the beach area. I didn’t want to go in the sand because of my fresh pedicure so I stood on the boardwalk while the others stuck their feet in the sea. We all took a cab back to the tender port and finally got back to the ship.

I ended up feeling a little impatient and cranky that night and no matter where I went, I couldn’t shake it. After trying several venues and shows, I just went to bed and hoped to sleep it off. I reasoned that it may be all those toxins coming out from the mud baths. Who can say for sure. All I know is that I sure did sleep well.

Grateful for mud baths.

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