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Escaping adverse weather and adulthood

VIETNAM | Wednesday, 3 November 2010 | Views [1919]

Squidy chills out in his flouro party tank

Squidy chills out in his flouro party tank

Arriving in teeming rain did not paint Vietnam's beach capital Nha Trang in a very pretty light. The city's setting is beautiful with large mountains looking down over a long stretch of beach dressed up by sculpture gardens and facing out towards 71 offshore islands. One of which holds Vietnam's answer to Disneyland. With or without the rain persisting, VinPearl Land was going to get at least a day of our time.

The heavy rains had turned the normally turquoise seas a dirty mocha brown colour with run off from nearby rivers. Massive walls of water pummelled the sandy shoreline making the water less enticing than a roller coaster in a washing machine. Our hotel room was brand new, cheap and far more accommodating than the 30 centimetre wide sleeper beds on the bus. Uma is a world class Nana-napper and I used the first wet day to write, read and draw while Uma perfected her craft.

Being part Wet 'n' Wild, part Time Zone, part fairground and part Rodeo Drive made VinPearl Land an extremely intriguing prospect. Passage across to the island was gained by various routes, the most appealing being the world's longest ocean traversing cable car. 48 cabins trundled along 3,320 metres of cabling reaching a height of 60 metres above sea level as it passed the seven pylons that bridged the gap between mainland and island.

The winds at such height swayed our cabin enough for me verge on dirtying my laundry. The ocean surged beneath us with similar nauseating motion making the ferry an equally unappealing option. Disaster movies seem harmless enough until your imagination vividly paints your fate should an earth quake, tsunami, or Kraken appear out of nowhere. It was a promising sign though, when just getting to the tourist park was an adventure in itself.

The first thing that confronts you upon arrival is the fairground. These I never trusted at home knowing they were continually erected and removed every few weeks as they travelled around the country. It wasn't too much of a stretch to think some carnie could overlook tightening a few bolts and the Ferris wheel breaks free from its moorings and starts rolling down the street. Being a permanent structure meant little when building codes were somewhat more flexible in Asia. I wasn't going to be the first on any of the rides, making me feel a lot more comfortable that I wasn't going to be the last either.

Our map / brochure described the roller coaster as an must do with “it's sudden changes in speed and direction that will take you to unique and exciting moments”. A bored attendant was a long way off having any exciting moments of his own, largely because the park was still empty. We had the ride to ourselves, making it easier to identify the bodies, but as squeaky as it was, the cars remained boringly attached to the rail. It was over before we had to draw breath from screaming like little children, so we went round again.

My moustache scared Uma from riding the pirate ship and the other rides only offered various degrees and speed of circular motion, a surer method of regurgitation than eating cucumber. We headed indoors to the arcade area where every game was free but barely functioning. Shooting games required aiming through cross eyes rather than cross hairs. Even though the basketball machine didn't dispense tickets for achievement, the balls were far too large for the ring. The street fighter machine didn't work too well after I accidentally poured soft drink over it and the air hockey table gave you 30 seconds of air before it ran out of puff.

Enough people had converged inside to make the bumper cars more than just a two person pursuit. “Show your driving talent and you will gain unforgettable moments” the brochure informed us. No reason was given why the cars inexplicable went backwards should you turn too far in one direction. I remained stuck on the edge for half the ride, an easy target for people too scared to even look at me outside. Uma got stuck in the middle and got polite assistance from many a chivalrous Vietnamese as I tried to pry myself off the edge quick enough to just barrel through the lot of them.

We bypassed the fancy boutiques offering pearls and designer clothes for three very good reasons. They didn't seem to be the backpacker style, we'd brought enough crap in Hoi An and the shops were open but devoid of any staff. Knowing a prolonged glance is the best way to have someone come running out of a concealed place of relaxation, my curiosity wasn't strong enough to disrupt someone's nap time. Doing so to Uma had earned me every Dutch swear word known so we left the unseen napping and continued on to the Aquarium.

The displays were hardly world class and most looked like the choices offered at a seafood restaurant. But the layout had been cleverly designed so the animals got more gasp worthy as you ventured further within. The highlight was a walkavator that took you through the middle of a large fish tank full of aquatic life bizarre enough to lay to rest 'intelligent design'. Massive manta rays glided around while wizened old turtles cruised with the effortlessness of decades of repetitive motion. Fat fish the size of fat humans floated languidly by while little fish followed along looking cool by association.

Enthralled enough to want to grow gills, it was time to tackle the water slides. Even though the park was manned by a staff force large enough to run the whole country, each slide had alternating hours of operation. Neither rain nor sun had burdened or blessed the day but the climate was warm enough to avoid me disappearing under my swimmers and Uma appearing under hers.

The rafting slides were run of the mill but a good introduction to Uma's screaming. The 'flying boat up hill' introduced speed and higher octaves into the occasion. The space hole shot you through twisting darkness then dropped you out the bottom of its inverted vase like ending. The multi slides forced you to go face first, nearly piercing my teeth with my labret and making Uma arrive at the bottom before her bikini did. One old geezer looked well pleased that he now has a better understanding of a foreigners level of grooming.

The tsunami slide was by far the scariest and most unusual. Sitting in a two person raft, an attendant pushed us over a sheer drop into a 'U' shaped slide while Uma pierced my eardrums and endangered any window panes in the vicinity. Reaching the peak, you would slid backwards into the 'U' and continue to do so until momentum was exhausted and you slid heart pounding into the waiting pool.

The biggest wave pool in South East Asia was just like choppy seas so we went out for a swim in a warmer, less undulating and more genuine version of an ocean. Rays of sunlight streamed out through cracks in the tropical clouds, shining on various parts of the scenery like a spotlight on a stage. Although I would have liked to have tested the water resistant nature of my camera, it had been locked away and only my memory retains the best parts of a whole day of fun within what was to be a very wet week.

Tags: fun, tourist park, waterslides

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