Published: January 10th 2012November 6th 2011
The trip to Mui Ne was… scary. The bus driver was a raving lunatic and I’d bet £1,000 that he’s never passed any sort of driving test or that he was auditioning for Speed 3. The bus spent most of the journey on two wheels bombing through small villages, past schools, disabled kids and animal sanctuary’s. The only respite was a very unnecessary stop at a restaurant in Mui Ne village, clearly a friend of the bus driver. Once the bus arrived to the main strip in Mui Ne we disembarked to the usual rabble of moto taxi’s trying to scab a dollar here and there. I met Cass again in Mui Ne, who had travelled on another bus and we set off rather ambitiously in search of suitable accommodation with our backpacks on in midday heat. A way down the strip and after a brief taxi ride, Cass had checked into a nice hotel and I had settled on something nearer the beach (literally over the road), with hammocks on the beach front. I had a beach bungalow to myself and settled in for the afternoon with a book on the beach.
That evening I went for a wander
Mui Ne Fishing Village
Despite it's rustic charm, it really stank.
down the beach to see what Mui Ne had in store. It’s an interesting mix in Mui Ne – the old town is primarily a fishing village and sits apart from the main tourist strip. Next you have the main drag of tourist shops, hotels and hostels, although it’s by no means over-developed and still retains a laid back and sleepy atmosphere. As you near the end of the main strip the beach guesthouses become more laid back and there is less of a bustle (this is where I stayed). Here most of the kite surfing shacks reside as the waves on Mui Ne and pretty good, although when I was there the wind was not blowing so much. After that you have the more elaborate and high-end Russian owned hotels, which cater mainly (and probably only!) for Russians. The thing about the South of Viet Nam is that a lot of Russian money has and is being invested here, presumably a hangover from the reliance that the Vietnamese Government had on the Soviet Ruble in the 80’s and 90’s, before the Soviet Union collapsed along with the rest of Communism. Funnier still is that most of the signs in
In mui Ne these little tykes are caught then dried in the Sun before being made into some kind of fish-based tomato sauce.
Mui Ne are in Vietnamese, Russian then English, yet the Vietnamese (allegedly) despise the Russian’s being there… anyway… so a wander up and down the beach and I bump into Carine, a French girl who I’d met briefly in Nha Trang (although my recollection of that place is vague – see prior blog!).
Carine was also travelling alone so we arranged to meet up later after my walk for some food. After a drink at Sankara apparently Mui Ne’s hottest new night spot, we hit the main road in search of good seafood, pretty much what Mui Ne is also famous for and it did not disappoint. Two huge red snappers later I was fit to burst and decided to call it a night, after the usual 8pm movie on HBO.
The next day Carine and I had arranged to hire bicycles to check out the local area. Mui Ne has a number of attractions, the red sand dunes, where you can body board down the dunes, the white sand dunes (although you need a motor bike to get there), the ‘fairy stream’ (I’m still at a loss as to why it’s called that) and a few temples,
Glory, Glory, Man United!
This fellow was seen beating Man City and Liverpool supporters to death with hos big stick. Bravo.
oh and the beach. We set off in search of the red sand dunes that I had passed on the bus journey in. The trip out to Mui Ne village is about 5km and the dunes are about another 3km on from that. After a slight detour (wrong turn) to another (dirty) beach, we made our way over, past where the Vietnamese were drying and smoking small fish used for a local fish sauce. The red dunes themselves are, well, red (ok, reddish orange), but they are pretty impressive if you climb all the way up to where the dunes meet the forest. You can catch a view of the whole bay and it’s a really pretty sight – if you can stave off the wind whipping up the sand in your face that is!
After the dunes we hopped back on the bikes to see what the rest of the bay had in store (we’d spied another beach resort that looked promising for a spot of lunch). Sadly, the 3km ride there proved to be a massive disappointment. The beach was dirty and they were closed for business and then I had to cycle uphill for 2km back
Mui Ne Harbour View
A view from the top of the hillside overlooking Mui Ne Fishing Village.
to where I’d just come from. So that was shit. By this time I was starving and parched. Carine and I, sensing an opportunity, spied a beach resort where we had planned to go and try to eat. Sadly, it was quite an exclusive one and the security guard ousted our sweaty little asses before we had a chance to sit down. Back in Mui Ne village (now on the verge of passing out), we pulled over on a small road side shack for some much needed sugar in the form of a pepsi. Re-energised (partly), we started the hill climb up into the village. Clearly the strain of the climb was too much for my $3 a day bike and the main cog snapped sending my legs spinning and me head first into the dirt. Thankfully with nothing but a few grazes I picked myself up and switched bikes with Carine. I peddled and she held on the back, thus me doing the work for two to get us back home.
On the way back we spotted the fairy stream café, just near a small bridge and so ditched the bikes to trek through the shallow stream to
The Red Sand Dunes
In Mui Ne the red sand dunes are a local tourist attraction where you can go sand surfing on body boards.
see what the fuss was about. The trip was well worth it, despite the fact the pair of us were burning in the sun and in need of a sit down after hours of bike riding. The stream has cut through the soft sand landscape to form a small gorge (like a mini Grand Canyon) with red and white sand on one side and a bamboo forest on the other. There’s an ostrich farm there too where you can ride an ostrich, although the paddock is tiny, so not that much fun then! From the top of the gorge it gives you a great vantage point to see the whole area and with a great view out to the ocean over the tree tops where you can catch the odd kite from the kite surfers on the beach.
On the way back there was a large crowd building in the street, which was almost blocking our route through. It was only when we got close that we realised there had been quite a bad collision between two bikes. A foreign girl lay in a taxi her legs covered in blood. She was conscious as she was crying in pain
The Red Sand Dunes
The wind here was pretty bad as the whole area was exposed to open ocean from all sides. You can see the sand being whipped up and feel it on your legs like hundreds of little needles!
and her injury’s did not look too severe. Her driver, a Vietnamese guy, so most likely a moto taxi, did not seem to be faring too well. I don’t think he had been wearing a helmet and there was a lot of blood on the ground by the bike. It was not a pleasant thing to see or even write about, but this type of thing happens every day in Viet Nam and takes a lot of lives, rather unnecessarily.
After venturing back and some much needed lunch we chilled out on the beach reading until it was time for something more lively. A girl had passed us in the day on the beach giving out fliers for a bar called DJ Station down the road so we thought we’d check it out after more seafood. We cycled over and found a nice roadside spot serving great seafood. I opted for shark, picking the one I wanted from the tank. It was really good, cooked in lemon and garlic, it didn’t really taste fishy, but more like a sweet meat. The bar afterwards was quite a cool place with a nice Hungarian barman called Duda who kept us entertained
I tried to write 'Mui Ne' in the sand dunes with some footsteps for artistic integrity, but I mis-judged the jump, so it looks more like 'Mut Ne'.
for the night. We met a few English lads (Ben and Dan), a lot of Russian’s (with some very precariously young Russian girls) and a few German’s doing some very weird dancing.
The next day was a beach day and I pretty much sat on the beach reading all day with the occasional dip in the ocean – not for the hangover, more because I hadn’t actually stopped in a while to just chillout. I met up with Carine later on in the day again for food (more seafood of course) before getting an early night. The next day I was up and out early doors to catch my bus to Ho Chin Minh City.
There are more photos below