Excitement is rising. After 2 days of jam packed itinerary at Mekong delta, quick dinner and sleepover at Long Hostel, our bus is leaving to Mui Ne. This will be the first beach stay on our journey and a kind of holiday from holiday. We are horizontal on this sleeping bus and keep thinking of all the beach bumming we'll be doing for the next 3 days. Before I start praising Mui Ne, let me tell you about these buses. They are great long haul alternatives to planes or trains. As you might have guessed, they are not the most comfortable alternative, even though the regular seats are replaced with kind of horizontal ones, that in theory look very comfortable. In theory, because is NOT designed for giants like myself. If you are over 170cm tall, then you will struggle a little, but I'm still here and hopefully will be here by the time you read this journal too. The great thing about these buses is their price. Both of us could travel across the country for a price of one way Gatwick Express train ticket. And there is free Wi-Fi too, but don't attach too big hopes to it...
Upon arrival we head to our guesthouse and check in to our garden view room. Beautiful shady garden with a cozy terrace just outside our door. It was hard to get up and make a move towards the beach, but after the 'difficult' 2 minute walk, we have been occupying two beach beds in the shade of a palmbrella. A fancy hotel from one side and local fishermen cooling of in the shadow from the left. Sandy beach with a shallow warm sea. Funny thing, locals claim it to be The Pacific Ocean, but Google seems to be on Chinese side with the recent offshore territories disputes, as maps claim it as South Chinese Sea. Just an observation on the 'conflict', it has nothing to do with 'Pacific Ocean' sounding so much cooler...
Vietnamese fishermen use small round boats that used to be made of palm tree leaves, but are now more often made from fibreglass and also more often than not they have small engines these days. Is quite fascinating to watch them go about their business. When they don't run circles on their boat, they would fish in the shallow waters with nets. Of course they are very happy to sell the catch in which case they will often grill it for you, sometimes just chuck it in a plastic bag and off you go.
Our days in Mui Ne were spent either exploring on a rented motorbike, or just bumming on the beach. Without planning for it, soon we have discovered one of the sand dunes. There are a few of these in close proximity to Mui Ne and named after the colour of the sand: red, yellow or white. White are the largest ones and most touristy. We have decided to skip that one. The one we have accidentally found were the Yellow Sand Dunes. You could rent a plastic sheet which locals are trying to sell as sledge and run up and down the sandy slopes. Childish but fun. The next day, we have made an unplanned discovery of the red dunes, while visiting the Fairy Spring. The spring is a shallow stream, which you can walk up in it’s red mud to see a small waterfall. Quite nice and relaxing walk in that red mud and the best part is that when you are done, you finish on the beach. One day I wanted to wake earlier and see the village and it’s people in their native setting, so I headed to the fishing village. This is the hearth of the community. Most people live off the sea, or trading what fishermen bright to the shore. It was quite disappointing to see how they treat their direct surroundings. Dead shells, fish and crab litter the village beach along with all kinds of trash you can imagine. Cans, glass, plastic of all kinds, general waste… Villagers claim that the sea will swallow it all. Fishermen were picking through the rubbish for the catch in their nets and discarding everything of no value to them. Including small fish or hermit crabs. When I tried to explain that small fish is going to grow to big fish one day, a shrug was the reply and a fish too small to be eaten thrown into the sand was a signal: 'message not received'... The sea is big, fish is plenty, right?!
Another surprise for me was that Mui Ne seems to be to Russians what Spain is for the English. Easy connection, great value... All restaurants have Russian menus, sometimes the staff even tries to engage conversation in Russian. Our short stay was coming to an end and we worry, that we are making a mistake of rushing to our next stop in Hoi An. Should be a little busier, but just as nice… Fingers crossed!
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