Interview – Nha Trang
Side Note: I was in Nha Trang for a few days and didn’t take many pictures- however I felt that this one was something I couldn’t pass up. This picture was actually digitally reproduced on the bathtub tiling in our room! I asked other travelers in the hotel if they had a similiar picture in their bathroom and they all said no – just a picture of flowers. I have no idea why we got the sex room – maybe it was rented by the hour! Regardless, it was entertaining!
This isn’t a formal interview as much as it’s a recount of a conversation that I had with a few great people in Nha Trang. Enjoy!
Just when you think you can’t take one more person trying to sell you stuff, asking your name and where you are from – you meet a gem. Vietnam is beautiful, cultural, and fascinating place to travel through, but I won’t lie – you will get stopped no less than 30 times a day by people trying to sell you things you really don’t want. Cyclo rides, motorbike tours, postcards, fruit, jewelry, hats, and even Opium,
“Madame, Come see my store”
“Madame, you buy from me?”
“Madame, where you from?”
I’m generally a nice person and say no thank you, no less than 30 times a day – but it’s tiring, very tiring. That’s whey when I stepped in a blissful little spa called Suspa in Nha Trang – I felt a wave of relief sweep over me. It was peaceful, there was trickling water and beautifully designed furniture that made the whole place feel warm and welcoming. This was actually the 2nd day I had been to Suspa for various moderately priced treatments. Sure, I could have gone somewhere cheaper – but this was my oasis – after all $12 for an hour massage may seem expensive in SE Asia – but it’s still a bargain to me! The treatments were done all very well and the service was good – it was shat you would expect from a ‘western spa’ – not really Vietnam. Most of all, I loved the people there.
After my massage I sat in the little lounge room having my complimentary tea and custard and one of the young girls named Lien came up to me and asked me where I was from. I told her “America” – her eyes lit up and she sat down and talked with me for about 20 minutes. We did the standard questions and I found out she was 25 years old and had just finished University. She was originally from the countryside outside of Nha Trang and had a boyfriend from there. She didn’t seem in too much of a hurry to get married. She was working to save money to help her sisters also go to University. The sense of family obligation and familyties never ceases to amaze me in Vietnam – it’s refreshing. Lien’s English was pretty good – a bit rough – but a thousand times better than my Vietnamese! Our chat was a great way for her to practice so I enjoyed helping out. We continued to exchange information about our families and lives. She asked me if she could email me so we exchanged emails – she was so pleasant and genuine I decided I could have a Vietnamese pen pal for a while!
Her boss and owner of the spa, Le Van Chuong, came and joined me next with some tea. He had just opened the spa 2 months ago and designed the beautiful building we were in. We sat and talked about an hour on his business, the hospitality industry in Vietnam, his marketing, and his design decisions – he was a breath of fresh air. I had been in many businesses in Vietnam but I had not met any businessmen. Le Van actually was one of the first persons to go to University outside of Vietnam to specialize in Hospitality and hoteling. He attended a Swiss Hotelling university in the early 90’s – right when Vietnam was opening itself up to outsiders. He came back to the Nha Trang area where he grew up and became the Director for one of the 5 star hotels around Nha Trang. He quit recently to start his own business. Based on my conversation with him – I know he will be a success – he has the right ideas and can differentiate himself. He’s a businessman. I helped him pick out some photos for his website that is under construction and we sat and enjoyed our tea until he had to go.
When Le Van left, Lien quickly ran back in all excited. She asked me if I would like to come to dinner at her home that next night. She didn’t have to work and her boyfriend could pick me up on his motorbike. She wanted me to meet her family. I was so touched by this jester and her happiness about it. I was crushed when I had to tell her “No thank you”. The one time I would have loved to say yes, I couldn’t. I was leaving on the train for Saigon that night. We were both saddened by the answer.
I loved my Spa Oasis and enjoyed my new friends I made. You can be bugged all day by people to the point that you want to turn around and scream at them to leave you alone – but every so often you run into a person that’s different. One that you actually want to talk to – I was lucky enough to find two of them today!