Day 79: Nha Trang’s rubbish and a Public Health hero

Now, there’s a provocative (clickbait) title for an article. Am I saying Nha Trang is rubbish or has rubbish?

Another leisurely day was in order for my last day in Nha Trang.

I had planned to see the Po Nagar Cham Towers but I visited those after the previous day’s Vespa Tour.

These are the remains of the Po Nagar Cham temple complex, built between the 8th and 11th centuries by the Cham people who once ruled the central plain of Vietnam. The Cham people, who were Hindu in origin, still live in Vietnam and are a minority group.

The temple was to honour the goddess Po Nagar… Mother of the Country.

I’d also watched the musicians and dancers perform traditional songs and dances from the temple’s history.

Today, I headed off to find the Long Son Pagoda, thus providing you all with another pub quiz winning update.

Seriously, I expect a share if anyone does win big. A couple of pints and a packet of crisps will do.

Long Son Pagoda was erected on another hill, (i.e. it has been moved, actually, it hasn’t been moved, keep reading) in 1886.

In 1900, after a large cyclone, the temple was destroyed and had to be rebuilt at its current location.

In 1936, the Buddhist Studies Association made the temple the headquarters of the Buddhist Association in the Province. In 1940, the temple was renovated and expanded.

In 1968, the temple was heavily damaged during the Vietnam (American War) in particular the tiled roof.

From the Long Son Pagoda, there is a steep hill leading up to a large white concrete statue of Buddha. The statue was placed on the site of the original temple in 1965.

The sculpture of the statue was by Kim Điền.

From the ground up, the statue is 24m, and from the base of the statue, it is 21m. The figure of the Buddha is 14m.

The panel behind the reclining Buddha there is a representation of the monks and nuns who died in the late 1950s while protesting against the US-backed Diem regime.

My next plan was for an afternoon of Public Health Geekery at the Yersin Museum.

Maps.Me, a superb alternative to Google when you haven’t got a local SIM card provided clear directions to… the wrong place.

It turned out to be only 100m out and I’d had the same problem finding my hotel on arrival. (That wasn’t as much fun at 10.30pm with a back pack).

A security guard gave me directions but I couldn’t see an entrance so continued walking.

When I heard a voice shouting “Madame, madame” I turned and saw the guard hurrying after me.

He was concerned I’d gone too far, which I had, and brought me back to show me a sign that showed the museum would re-open at 2pm.

Tyler had asked me, the day before, whether I thought the little things and small actions matter.

I’d said yes and today’s encounter just reinforced this even more.

The museum overlooks the beach so a sensible action, I thought, was spending some time there… especially to get some seawater on my insect bites to soothe them.

I stood at the edge of the water and noted that the amount of litter did not encourage me to go for a swim. At first I’d thought they were jellyfish floating in the water but, no they were plastic bags.

In the space of ten minutes I collected the following items:

  • Five plastic bags
  • One plastic lid
  • One pen refill
  • One paintbrush
  • One plastic bracelet
  • Three pieces of wood
  • One chunk of polystyrene

I’ve seen litter and piles of rubbish all over Vietnam. I usually see people collecting it.

Nha Trang has become a very popular tourist resort in the last few years. Tyler had told me that the city is growing rapidly. New hotels are being built, new amusement complexes.

It looks like a larger version of Ha Long City. He said that a street’s trees had been cut down to make more room for restaurants… also increasing the heat. Tree cover flowers temperatures.

Tyler was also sceptical of the claims of the hotel chains in relation to their eco-friendly tourism, asking about their use of energy and what happens to their waste.

Eco-friendly is a term used throughout Vietnam and it’s something that many travellers are seeking when they visit areas. I’m not entirely sure how genuine the branding is.

It may be a marketing ploy. It may not.

My hotel is changing the towels every day and replenishing the plastic toothbrushes (that I don’t use) everyday. There were four when I arrived. There are now six.

Conserving water, I’ve noticed as a priority, across China and Vietnam. I’m starting to see, in some of the coffee shops (in a communist themed one, for example) a focus on eliminating the use of plastic straws. Bamboo straws are almost everywhere.

Beyind the use of straws, I’m not yet seeing action on plastic. In China’s restaurants (the ones I went to) the crockery came shrink-wrapped and when I went for pizza (yes, I have had pizza, three times in the last eleven weeks), I was handed a plastic glove with which to eat it.

After putting this lit in the bin, I went to the Yersin Museum. It is small but the exhibition is fascinating.

This one is for the Public Health geeks…

Yersin was born in Switzerland but later took French nationality. He discovered, and is primarily known for this, the bacillus which causes bubonic plague and identified rats as a key factor.

Yersin could possibly be described as an over-achiever.

As well as co-discovering the bacteria responsible for diphtheria, he settled in Nha Trang and worked to improve medicine in Vietname.

He opened medical institutes across the country, founded Da Lat, introduced the rubber tree to Indochina and the quinine plant (after years of experimenting to see where it would grow).

When he died in 1943, he was recognised as an Honorary Citizen of Vietnam in recognition of his work in the country.

Yersin: an incredible story

Categories: Environment, Public Health, Travel, VietnamTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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