Petis Paris and the Windy City !!


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Asia » Vietnam » South Central Coast » Binh Thuan » Mui Ne
February 14th 2013
Published: February 14th 2013EDIT THIS ENTRY

Days 148-149 (Sat 2nd – Sun 3rdFeb) Da Lat



Luckily my bus to Da Lat wasn’t an early start or a night bus so that was made me more positive for the trip. The bus left around 11am and we got in around 3pm. During the trip I first watched Top Gear and then spent the rest of the trip looking out the window. Da Lat is 1500m above sea level so it is a windy road all the way up. The views are pretty impressive if not a little scary at times with some large drops.

On arrival at the bus station, there is free taxi/motortaxi to your destination. The idea is you get a free lift and they get 5-10 minutes to try and sell you a tour for the next day. On arrival at my guesthouse the driver waited while I checked in then asked me what time he was to come back. I took his card and told him I’d get the receptionist to call him later. This obviously didn’t happen as I wasn’t interested in a tour, although I have heard they are good, I prefer to be in control of my days.

I was told the lake in the city centre was 5km to circumnavigate it. I decided to test this out and headed down and walked around it not long before sunset. The lake is quite pretty. Da Lat is known here as ‘Petit Paris.’ It is where the French used to go to get out of Saigon and retreat to the hills. It is also becoming famous for flowers and trees and this is evident walking round the lake. There are tonnes of locals attempting to sell flowers and plants. This isn’t really my sort of thing, I was more interested in timing myself walking round the lake to see if it was 5km. It took me 45 minutes so safe to say that estimation is pretty much spot on.

On heading back to the guesthouse I stopped in a nice little restaurant for some soup and a meal. The place was called V Cafe and it’s definitely a good place to go. Also high on trip advisor I found out later. With it being Saturday I headed back to room as I had a tv to watch some English football.

I woke up on Sunday pretty early for me and had a bit of a walk around town. I enquired about a mountain bike. It was only going to cost 50000 dong (£1.50) for the day so I went back to my guesthouse to get my passport so I could hire it. Got it sorted, was prepared with my map and off I went.

I roamed through the city and got a little further out of town. I took in a couple pagodas as well as stopping to have a look at various Catholic churches. I was surprised by how many there were. It must have come from the French colonisation. I was also a little under the weather so the cycling was hard going. It was my only full day in Da Lat so I wasn’t going to spend it sat in my room. I headed towards a waterfall I saw on the map. It was called Cam Ly waterfall. It was a beautiful spot. The waterfall wasn’t huge but the grounds of it had nice gardens and they were very well kept. They were also quiet as no one was there. Just me and my thoughts. It was a good spot to stop for half an hour or so, have a drink and just relax.

I roamed more of the countryside ending up in farmers fields, on dust roads that were so steep I had both brakes on and were still moving, got lost a couple of times but that is part of the fun. After around 4 hours of cycling about which was only broken by lunch, I took the bike back, picked up my passport and headed back to the guesthouse for a lie down. I headed out for a look in the evening, got tea and back to my room again for some more football. I got my next bus sorted and had an early night with getting picked up at 6:30am



Days 150-151 (Mon 4th – Tues 5th Feb) Mui Ne



So 6:20am came, my alarm was ringing and I got changed and headed downstairs, to find the door was locked, there was no one on reception and I couldn’t get out. At 6:30am I could hear an alarm coming from a room but nothing happened, 10 minutes later it happened again so I walked towards the noise to gather where it was coming from. One realising I decided I needed to get out so knocked on the door. Some young lad came out the room and unlocked the door for me. I then sat outside for what was nearly an hour waiting to be picked up. I was finally picked up in a minivan. I thought we’d be going to a bus stop/station to get a coach but the minivan took us all the way to Mui Ne. The trip took around 4 hours. It got a little frustrating near the end. I saw a sign saying 30km to go and then the driver stopped for a food break, 20 mins sat doing nothing, when we only had 30 minutes of travel left. There isn’t always a lot of logic in Vietnam or South East Asia really. We got dropped off around 11am. Mui Ne is a small fishing town but there is a 15km strip between Mui Ne and Phan Thien which is the tourist area and massive resort spot. I noted that I was dropped at 144 Nguyen Dinh Chien st. I was staying at 261 so started walking. Nearly 45 minutes and 3km later, knackered with my back pack on, and 30 degree heat I found the guesthouse. I got checked in and went straight to bed. I was struggling with a headache behind my eyes so was worried I was getting a migraine. I took some tablets and slept for the afternoon. I noticed that a lad I went to university with was in town also on facebook. I had not seen him for 5 years but sent Ian a message and we went out for tea with a few friends he’s met on the way.

We found a little restaurant and I went for the Ostrich steak. I have enjoyed trying new things so far on this trip and thats half the point of it. Why come to Vietnam if you’re just going to eat western food. Now I do now and again and dabble in a KFC when I see one but I am equally trying as many new things as I can. The ostrich was superb, juicy and tender. It was that tasty I didn’t even mind the steak came without a sauce. We then found a ‘nightclub.’ This place also had beach tables so we sat near the little bonfire they’d made and had a beer. The dance floor consisted of 3 people, 2 of whom were 50 year old guys easily sleazily dancing around a younger local girl.

We didn’t stay long and headed back to the first bar we met in, had one more beer, they shut up and we parted ways. It was good to see Ian again and amazing that paths can easily cross as ours did. I had no idea he was in Vietnam, just happened to see it on facebook, so it does have a positive use after all.

So I hired a scooter the next morning and was soon out on the road. Mui Ne is famous for sand dunes and kite surfing. As kite surfing is expensive and something I think I’d look stupid doing I decided to roam the streets instead.

I had a few issues early on. 1 being that the speedo didn’t work and I like to know how fast I am going. 2 the petrol counter didn’t seem to work either and 3 neither did the lights. All in all a quality machine on first inspection. I got out on the road anyways and head through the fishing village of Mui Ne itself. Stopped for a few photo’s then found a small petrol station although the guy wouldn’t let me have any. I carried on through and past the Red Sand Dunes, these were closer to home so thought I’d go to the further ones first. It made sense in my had until 2km down the road or so when I ran out of petrol. I parked up and walked up the road until I found a resort. There was a security guard outside so I tried to explain what had happened. 2 girls were nearby with a scooter so I wandered to them and lifted up the seat, trying to show I have no petrol. They understood and the guard disappeared to re-appear 2 minutes later on his own scooter with a little helmet on. I gave him some money and he went off up the road, came back 5 minutes later with a 1.5 litre water bottle full of petrol. We filled it up and off I went. I found a petrol station a few minutes later and filled the tank. Luckily this brought the petrol register to light and it started working.

I carried on until I thought I was on the wrong road. I stopped, took some photos and headed back to my guesthouse. On the way though I got side tracked by a 3 lane wide by pass of Mui Ne. This gave me the perfect opportunity to full throttle it for 17km, there was no traffic at all. It was bliss. I carried on to Phan Thien, got some lunch then back to guesthouse to look online at where the white sand dunes were. If I had gone on maybe 1 more minute I’d have found them. I headed back out that way anyways. Its a good 20-25km run down the coast so was happy to go that way again.

I got to the dunes and was the only one there. It was pretty nice and incredibly hot walking on the sand barefoot. I walked up the dunes to one of the top ones and just sat and looked out over the lake. It was a lovely spot. I then headed to the Red Dunes to watch sunset and try and avoid being robbed by the street kids that patrol the area trying to rent out bits of plastic to slide down the dunes on.

After this I popped back to my guesthouse then went out for tea with Hazel and Izzy, 2 of the girls I travelled through Laos with. We had some good food, watched a random guy perform on a keyboard. It was odd because I thought he looked a bit like Stevie Wonder and the second I mentioned it he played Stevie. We also had a few beers before parting ways for the last time. They are off to Europe in a few days, sad to see them go. I headed back to my guesthouse to get some sleep before the morning bus to Saigon which I am looking forward too.



Next – Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)


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