Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Vietnamese waterpark

In Nha Trang there is a waterpark on the beach, which kind of makes sense and kind of doesn't. For example, why would you go to a waterpark when the beach is right there, but on the other hand, maybe you are tired of swimming in salty water? Well, we were sold on the idea because we weren't too fond of the beach in Nha Trang. We missed the informality and affordability of Sihanoukville. We also wanted to go to the waterpark in order to see how the Vietnamese like their waterparks and because it cost a dollar. The experience was quite different from your average American waterpark.

First of all, no one was there. It was the emptiest waterpark I have ever seen. So it seemed like the whole 'waterpark on the beach' idea was not working out for them. Second of all, nothing was functioning. So these two items may have been related. The lazy river was not so lazy because there was no current and you had to paddle in order to move. The wave pool was still as glass. The diving board in another pool was missing. The zip line was not so zippy and even when loaded with two children stopped somewhere in the middle of the pool. There were about ten concession stands, but only one girl to staff them, who told us the only thing she sold was vanilla or chocolate ice cream. That's it. Another guy who may or may not have worked for the waterpark let us out through a gate to the restaurant next door to buy beers, but there were no lounge chairs because Vietnamese people don't like to get tan. It is an amazing phenomenon of 'you want what you don't have' that tourists sit on beach chairs in the sun in the heat of day and get tan, whereas locals cover every sqaure inch of swim with fabric or stay in the shade and then they pour from the city onto the beaches as soon as the sun goes down.

The one functioning thing at the waterpark were the slides. Well, two out of three were working. The one really fun inner tube slide that was very casually supervised. The five local children that were in the park were having a great time piling onto tubes and sliding down together. It made me wish the staff at American waterparks were more relaxed. Traveling in South America and Southeast Asia makes me wish the U.S. was less litigious because there are so many fun things we are prevented from doing because Americans are so concerned about getting sued. For example, yesterday we rented a scooter and scooted around the limestone karsts and rice paddies near Ninh Binh. In the U.S. I think you would need a license to do that. Today we ate pho on the street corner in Haiphong, but in the U.S. you would probably need some sort of permit to sell street food. Many sidewalks are tiled, which John with his civil engineering expertise says would not be permitted for handicap reasons. Children scoot around town standing between their parents' legs or squished between two adults, which would definitely not be allowed, but yet nothing bad really happens as a result of a lack of regulation. People trip. Traffic accidents happen. Tourists get food poisoning. But overall the scale tips in the favor of less paranoia.

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