Friday, 21 December 2012

Two days in Mui Ne

Sunset over the sea in Mui Ne.
Mui Ne is a coastal town towards the south of Vietnam, and was the penultimate stop on our open bus ticket. We arrived from Dalat around lunchtime and after being told a room in the backpackers was $30, we sweated down the street to find a room for $12. After getting some food in a restaurant over the road, we spent the afternoon in another hotel that had some deckchairs on the sea front, and I spent quite a lot of time in the sea. There is no open seafront in Mui Ne, the entire stretch is built up with hotels and resorts, and seemed to be mostly populated by Russians on holiday. There is almost nothing Vietnamese about the town, it's an international holiday resort for couples and families. That evening after a delicious curry in an Indian restaurant, we stopped by a hotel for a drink, and the entertainment of live music felt like it belonged in Benidorm, it wasn't really our scene.

Palm lined streets of Mui Ne.
The following day we decided to rent a moped and go and explore the surrounding countryside, and find the huge sand dunes that Mui Ne is famous for. I'd spent half of my daily budget on a big slice of chocolate cake for breakfast, so Alex and I shared a bike, with him driving there and me driving back. We got lost a few times that baking hot afternoon, but eventually we saw a big splash of white sand in the landscape and steered the bike in that direction.

The harbour by the real town, away from the tourist resort.
Looking across the lake towards the dunes.
We had to ride around a lake to reach the dunes, and this road was no longer paved but a sandy track and the bike struggled to grip as we bounced over potholes and slid on sand. We parked the bike and walked up the dunes. It felt like a little slice of the Sahara. The sun beat down and the sweat trickled down; the wind whipped up grains of sand and it stung our skin as we slowly made our way across the dunes. We had half an hour of this small desert landscape to ourselves, and as we were leaving dozens of tourists appeared riding quad bikes and destroying the peace - it was time to leave.

The dunes.
My footsteps in the sand.

A small Sahara.
The spine of a dune.
Hi ladies.
A lonely figure.

On the ride home there wasn't much traffic, but we did have a slight scare at one point, where the bike's brakes were put to the test. A local youth wandered out into the road in front of me at the last minute, and usually I'd just skirt around him, but there was an oncoming 4x4 and so I had no option but to slam on the brakes. The car did the same, and all three of us stopped within a few feet of each other. The Vietnamese guy staggered in front of me, eyes glazed over and frothing at the mouth, he was clearly high on something, but it was a face I didn't recognise. I speculated he'd been sniffing glue or something, but he didn't look healthy. As soon as a gap of a few feet opened, I twisted on the accelerator and we sped off down the road away from him, my eyes squinting as the sun dropped down low in front. Back in Mui Ne we jumped in the sea, sand had worked its way into every crevice and pore of my body, and so a sunset swim was a perfect way to end the day and wash the dunes from my skin. We had a quiet evening, having already decided there was not too much fun to be had in this resort town, and got ready to leave the following day for Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

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