Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mui Ne

We took an early morning bus and arrived in Mui Ne midday. We went looking for a place to stay but because Christmas was 2 days away a lot of the places had overpriced all their rooms or were booked. I was looking for beachfront. The rooms we did find were beachfront but the beach had eroded and was replaced by a concrete “beach”. I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted beachfront and if I couldn’t have it then I wouldn’t be paying these ridiculous prices. Finally we found a guest house across the street from another beachfront resort for ¼ of the price the other places were charging. This way we could just cross the street and pretend we were staying at the nice resort. No one would know because unlike in the Caribbean, you don’t actually have to wear a bracelet here.

As soon as we checked in we went to see the beach. The beach was big and beautiful here. There weather was great so everyone was on the beach, but what really stood out was the number of kite surfers. All you could see in the sky was hundreds of kites, and below in the water all the kite surfers being pulled by them. Mui Ne is known as the kite surfing capital of Vietnam perhaps even the world and every year literally thousands of people visit Mui Ne just for the kite surfing. We figured since we’re here we might as well give it a shot. We started walking around looking at lesson prices and realized very quickly that it’s quite expensive. The cost is $50 per hour and you need at least 5 -8 hours to learn. Way too expensive for us. We met a girl from Romania and she was regretting not learning at home during the summer as apparently it cost half as much.

The following day, December 23rd, we rented a motorbike. It was an old 2 stroke Russian Minsk. It looked pre-war but Andrew was so happy he was almost peeing his pants. He thought it was the greatest thing that could happen to us. I was doubtful this thing could run but it started and we were on our way. Our destination was the sand dunes. There are 2 different sand dunes in the area around Mui Ne; the red and the white dunes. Apparently the white dunes were the best to see. After getting out of the city we were on our way but the awesome bike we were on was just not performing. It could barely get us up hills until it finally died and would not start. That was not a good sign. The weather was blazing hot and now we were stranded in the middle of a highway with a broken bike. You would think on this big beautiful 4 lane highway there would be more traffic but there were absolutely no cars on the road. After some kick starting the bike got started again and we turned around and went right back to the shop where we rented it from. We were provided with another crappy bike but better than the Minsk and much more comfortable. We were off again! The scenery was breathtaking. We were driving along the coast and it was an awesome, but very windy, ride.

We arrived at the white sand dunes about an hour later. The road was literally just sand. There was a big sign that said “White Sand Dunes” so we knew we had arrived at the right place. We parked under the canopy and were handed a ticket. It turned out they wanted us to pay for parking. We said no and were kicked out. So we parked on the road. There was a kid trying to rent us a couple of plastic sheets so we could slide down the dunes. But after being told they were $1 each we said no. We told him we would pay $0.50 each. He agreed but after we told him we only wanted 1 he said no and we refused to rent anything so he left us alone. The dunes were amazing. Valleys of perfect white sand. It felt like we were in the desert. It was a very odd feeling being surrounded by all this sand. I started making sand angles. I was thinking that kids at home were probably making snow angels and here I was doing the same thing but in the sand. Walking on sand is not that easy. We did some serious trekking to the top of the valleys. But once we got there we weren’t disappointed. The view was amazing. At the bottom of one of the valleys was a lake. A beautiful blue lake with hundreds of lily pads growing in it. The fact that there was a lake right in the middle of these dunes was beautiful in itself but the contrasting of the different colours, the blue of the water, the green of the lily pads and the white of the sand, was striking. I decided I didn’t need a plastic sheet and that I would just slide down by myself. I just ended up with a lot of sand up my shorts. By the end we had so much sand in our shoes that I could pour it out and watch it flutter away.

We left the white sand dunes (our bike was right where we left it on the side of the road) and headed for the red sand dunes. When we arrived there were kids trying to sell us plastic sheets again. We didn’t get any but another couple did. Once at the top they were trying to slide down but with little success. Apparently there’s a trick to the sliding. It made us feel better that we didn’t spend the $2. The red dunes were just as large as the white but because they are closer to Mui Ne they receive a lot more visitors and therefore have a lot more litter. After seeing the white dunes we weren’t as impressed with the red but it was still great to see them especially during sunset. It looked like the colour of the sand was changing the deeper the sun set.

When I woke up the following morning I was sick. My throat was hurting, my sinuses were stuffed up and I had absolutely no energy. There was no question about it, I was sick. I stayed in bed all day while Andrew ran errands. I was very disappointed because this was Christmas Eve and we had bought tickets to a beautiful buffet dinner which I had been looking forward to. But Andrew would not let me stay in bed for the dinner so I got up, showered and we went out for Christmas Eve dinner. And I’m glad he dragged me out because the food was amazing. We had pesto pastas, fresh seafood, seafood pasta, bruschetta, fresh fruits, grilled skewers and real salads! This was the food we had been dreaming about for 2 months. It was delicious! But I think the most exciting part for me was the bottle of wine we purchased. I have learned that no matter where we are in the world, wine is just as expensive as it is at home. The difference is that at home I don’t mind spending the $15 on a bottle but while backpacking it’s just unrealistic that I spend that much. It’s crazy that we can buy beer for $0.50 but wine prices remain the same. We splurged that day however, because it was Christmas Eve. And we continued to splurge throughout the night. Some of us more than others. By midnight I was exhausted and ready for bed. The wine had taken its toll and even though I was able to forget I was sick for a few hours with the help of some good pills, my body was in need of a bed. Andrew however had other ideas. He thought it was a good time to start dancing. To put that in perspective, Andrew NEVER dances if it can be avoided. I can’t even remember the number of weddings we have been to and have ended up in an argument because he wouldn’t dance, so for him to want to start dancing all on his own told me how inebriated he was. I indulged him for an hour but then it really was time for bed.

We woke up the next morning and I was still sick but I crawled out of bed to skype my parents at home. Andrew could have been better but he also got out of bed. We were excited because this was the first time we could skype in a while. A lot of places we had been to did not have fast enough internet access for us to skype. After we finished chatting with my parents and some friends we went to the beach. The weather was beautiful and I didn’t want to spend one more day in bed. We were leaving for Nha Trang the following day so I wanted to enjoy the day as much as possible. It was Christmas after all.

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