December 5, 2007
We got here quite late last night. Our departure from Saigon was delayed a bit when our vehicle came to pick us up. We were
told the vehicle would be for seven people – which sounded perfect as there are five of us plus the driver. What wasn’t taken
into account was the luggage that five girls are capable of bringing along with them. Even if all of our luggage could have fit in
the back of the van, we would have had to ro-sham-bo to see which one of us would be left behind. In any case, a phone call
had to be made and a 15-seater was being sent on its way.
And four hours later we arrived at our resort in Mui Ne.
Today was our chance to actually see what everything looks like. Ever since we arrived in Vietnam, this trip has had ‘vacation-
status’ (versus the ‘traveling’ status that I am used to). This is pretty nice – especially since when splitting the cost with
friends, it’s not too much more than if I were to stay in a basic place by myself.
On this note, it’s time to go to the beach.
Lying out on the beach turned out to be a slight challenge. This was because of the combination of wind and sand. Of course
this didn’t deter me and I stayed out there and ignored it so that I could still listen to the sounds of the ocean (and watch the
listen Vietnamese ladies with their triangular hats try to sell fruit). After a few hours, I moved over to the pool and then a bit
later I realized that I was officially done with the sun for the day.
I had a good hunch that the rest of the girls wanted to continue to get some sun. But there was something else I wanted to do –
and it consisted of sand dunes.
The thing that lured me into Mui Ne last year was looking at pictures of beautiful sand dunes that hit the water. I was bummed
out last year when I have to give this place a ‘pass’ due to lack of time. But this year, it was a priority. They have loads of tours
that take people to this area. But why take a tour when you can just hire a motorbike to take you? The bonus for me is that
this is my favorite way to get around while in Vietnam.
My driver’s name was pronounced ‘Chune’ – though I have no idea how you spell it. I am sure it consists of many little
squiggles above a few letters. Anyway, he was great. We started off at the fishing village and then made our way 40-km out to
the white sand dunes.
I realized that I had pictured something a bit different because I always assumed the water I saw in the pictures was the
ocean. But it wasn’t. It’s a lake. A beautiful bright-blue lake. Chune waited for me while I went off and explored. I loved it out
there. The contrast of the colors was awesome. The one thing I could have lived without would have been the combination of
the wind and the fine grains of sand. Who knew this would give the one-two punch of intense stinging on bare legs?
Our next stop was a ‘canyon’ that all of the tour agencies advertise and show pictures of. It was something I definitely wanted
to check out.
When we arrived, I literally had to laugh. The ‘canyon’ was about as tall as I was. Okay, maybe a little bit taller – but not
much. I will say that the shade of red of the rocks and dirt was pretty stunning. I wanted to walk to the sea and I attempted to
do so. And I kept walking and walking…and walking. I had to have a brief pause to let a herd of cattle cross my path by walking
down one side of the oh-so-steep (ha!) canyon and then walk up the other side. Almost all of them looked at me like I was
crazy (yes, it’s possible for cows to look at you like you’re crazy). I eventually reached the end and saw a sliver of the sea. I
flipped a 180 and headed back to my motorbike. I was only stopped briefly when the cow herder all of a sudden appeared in
front of my face after running down one of the sides of the canyon and had his hand held out in front of my face. Yeah, because
he was so worthy of receiving my money. I shook my head and said ‘no’ and kept walking. But I had to keep looking over my
shoulder the entire time as I wasn’t sure if he was going to appear again. Sure, I could have beat him up simply by flicking my
fingers. But still…best to be on-guard.
But the cow herder never appeared again and now I was back on the motorbike to head to the golden sand dunes.
Poor Chune. The drive along the coast was so beautiful, I kept asking to stop. I could just look at the sea forever. And then
there were more cows hydrating themselves with the water of the small lakes. I’m a sucker for stuff like this.
As the sun was beginning its descent, we arrived at the golden sand dunes. These things are smack across the street from the
sea and many little stalls and shops. Kind of funny when I thought about it since, up until now, sand dunes have been mostly a
desert-like thing in my mind. So a bit of it was spoilt by seeing all of the little shops from atop. But if you looked to one side, all
you could see were dunes and dunes of sands with those amazing patterns from the wind.
On my way back to the resort, the sky was towards the end of changing colors for the night and it was wonderful to watch. By
this point I was comfortable enough on the motorbike to not even feel the need to hold on. I was beyond content while
experiencing two of my favorite things at this moment – a sunset and riding on a motorbike. And I also felt pretty cool while
watching all of the jeeps that were ending their $25 tours go past us while thinking ‘Ha! I got an even better, more customized
experience of all of this for only $6.’
I just took an oh-so-needed shower and I need to meet everyone at some restaurant down the way. Time to go!
December 6, 2007
While it started off last night that Elisa and I were going to be the only early risers today, (after looking at my pictures of the
fishing village at the bar last night) Cindy, Yura and Rose decided they would be waking up to an alarm as well.
Elisa was the one that read about this and was pretty keen to do it. I was fully on-board. We figured that there couldn’t be a
better place to be tired than at a beach resort where you can fall asleep on a beach chair.
When we got to the village, we didn’t see the selling of fish that Elisa had read about. But we did see the fisherman coming back
on their oh-so-Vietnamese circular boats. I wasn’t tiring of watching this. But I think Cindy, Rose and Yura were. While Elisa
and I were down by the water looking at a combination of shells on the beach and people bringing in their barely-filled fishing
nets, they were already back on top waiting for us to head back. So maybe this fishing village trip isn’t meant for everyone.
While on the subject of things not meant for everyone, I guess I can add ‘motorbikes’. Elisa and I hopped on one with no
problem – but I think the other three were much more hesitant. When we all met up back at the hotel, they had to admit that
they liked it. But I also think none of them were going to be rushing to get on one in the near future. Such a shame. I was sure
that I was going to convert more people to the wonderful world of motorbike transportation.
After some sun, we all met up at the Mui Ne Sailing Club for lunch. There was a film crew there. Elisa and Cindy sent me to ask
what they were filming. Turned out they were from the Australian Discovery Channel and ‘Vietnam’ was the subject of the
next show they were doing. They told me they were just in Kuala Lumpur doing a 3-day shoot of the shopping there. After
many days in many malls, it sounded like these guys were enjoying Vietnam even that much more.
While eating, we were all transfixed on the kite surfers in the sea. It really is amazing watching these people. When I say ‘they
go flying’, I mean it. These guys were flying in the air. Let me also add that this looks like quite an intimidating sport. My luck I
would not know which way to steer and I would end up out in the middle of the ocean. No thank you. I will just watch from the
sidelines (read: beach) instead.
Before going to dinner I went with Cindy and Elisa to spend some last moments on the beach since it’s our last night here (Yura
and Rose are staying one more day). The sunset was nice and the sounds of the sea were even nicer. It’s going to be sad to say
good-bye to this place.
Tonight was our last dinner together with the five of us. Tomorrow is when our paths all go different ways: Yura and Rose will
stay here, Cindy will spend the night in Saigon before heading home tomorrow and Elisa and I will fly up to Hoi An. The time
has flown. It feels like we all just met up in Saigon.
December 7, 2007
We just said our good-byes to Yura and Rose. Now Elisa and I will begin our day o’ travel. We have four hours in a van to the
Ho Chi Minh City airport where we will say bye to Cindy and then we will wait to take our flight and then we will head from
Danang to Hoi An. The keyword here is ‘Hoi An’ (okay, so maybe it’s two words) – a town I love dearly. I can’t wait to get
there! I just hope Elisa shares my opinions on the place when we arrive…