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Published: November 28th 2012
The bus from Dalat to Mui Ne was pretty rough, the roads were probably the worst we have been on in Vietnam to date but completely bearable compared to other bus rides in China or Indo.
Mui Ne is a small-ish town set in a large bay. The town is basically all along one road that follows the ocean. We got dropped off on the out-skirts of Mui Ne. Since the road is so long and we didn't want to lug our backpacks around for hours we grabbed a bite to eat and while Rebecca watched the bags Tyler went to find us a “home”. The majority of the hotels are huge resorts looking to charge up to $100/night for their “cheap” rooms. On Tyler's adventure he found that many other prices had gone up and couldn't find anything for less than $16/night. Finally he haggled one family run hotel (with a pool) down to $13/night and that's where we decided to stay. That is an extremely condensed version of Tyler's search, he was actually looking around asking at different hotels for a few hours before we settled in at Hai Yen, since we were determined to find a place
on the beach rather than deeper in the town. While the room was small and very basic, the beach-side pool and lounge chairs totally made up for it. By the time we were able to take advantage of the pool it was 2:00pm. We spent the rest of the afternoon tanning and swimming and tanning and swimming. The heat, the beach and the pool were so relaxing we decided to have a couple of cold beers while lounging around.
After taking full advantage of the afternoon sun we walked the main strip for about 20 minutes checking different menus and keeping an eye open for somewhere to have a drink. We weren't overly hungry so we just ate a banh mi (Vietnamese baguette sandwich) at a small restaurant. As we walked back to the hotel we realized what a great sunset was in the making. When we got back to our hotel we grabbed the camera and hit the beach. The sky seems to never look the same twice; maybe sunsets are like snowflakes and each one is different. We have certainly seen our share of sunsets on this trip and this one was just as stunning as the
rest. The rays of sun that were shining through the clouds on the horizon were purple, pink, red, orange, yellow and all the colours in between. As we followed the ocean swept horizon we saw that the clouds on the other side of the bay seem to have turned into cotton candy. The fluffy pink clouds set on the indigo sky was really amazing. After our first afternoon in Mui Ne we knew we were going to enjoy our stay.
The next day we were up pretty early thanks to the bird outside our window (actually there were three, in cages, hanging in the tree directly outside our window all day and night). We were happy to be up at a reasonable hour so there were no hurt feelings between us and the birds. After some eggs and toast we rented bicycles and started on our adventure. It was slightly overcast but we could still see the sun poking through the clouds around us so we didn't worry about rain. While we rode our bikes along the ocean we were sure to stop and take some picture breaks for our memories and friends back home. Not too long after
we left Mui Ne (it doesn't really seem like we left since the restaurants, guesthouses, hotels and clothing stores are never ending) we found ourselves in a fishing village. The only reason we could tell is because of the smell and the abundance of fishing boats in the harbour. It was in that village that we took a left turn onto a new highway. We were heading to the sand dunes!
Rewind: On our drive into Mui Ne it felt like we had suddenly been transported into a desert. We aren't sure why but the region Mui Ne is in seemed very dry. Out of the bus windows the sand seemed to go on forever; even the sparse shrubs added to the landscape. Above all of these pleasant surprises was the colour of the sand... orange! Sometimes it was more of a peachy colour, but usually it was an astonishingly distinct bright orange colour. We probably shouldn't have been that surprised since the clay on Lang Biang (mountain in Dalat) had also been orange, but the sand by the ocean was still normal grey/brown/seashell colour. The sand dunes around Mui Ne are a must visit tourist attraction that we
couldn't miss out on.
On our way to the sand dunes, we of course took at least one wrong turn - which added a fun detour in which a group of young boys gave us high fives on our way by – and despite our optimism rode through a couple of little rainy patches. We originally thought the bike ride would be a leisurely 5km or so; well it turned out to be at least twice that. C'est la vie! Eventually we came to a corner and as soon as we turned, there was nothing but orange. Totally cool!
We parked our bikes at a restaurant nearby for an outrageous 25 cents each and then headed for the dunes. Immediately we were greeted by a group of kids who wanted us to pay to ride down the dunes on their magic carpets. They were looking to charge about $1.50/ride and we weren't buying it (especially since we had heard they these lovely darlings will go through your belongings while you sail through the sand). Instead we climbed to the top of the first dune we saw and were rewarded with an amazing view. We spent about an hour
playing around on the dunes and admiring the designs the wind made in the sand.
The bike ride home seemed to go much faster since we actually knew where we were going. We stopped to grab some food at a place that claimed to have the best eats in town. The food was pretty darn good and the prices were great too. On the way back to the hotel there was one last pit stop we had to make for Tyler. We stopped at a hot toc (a barber) to tame Ty's new beard. Tyler didn't want a clean shave so the barber just gave him a short buzz for about $2. When we got back to the hotel we lounged around and relaxed.
Since we had rented the bikes for a full 24 hours, we rode into town once the sun set and were surprised to see how different it was from where we were staying. There were bright lights everywhere, fancy hotels and of course plenty of stores and restaurants. While this was clearly where the action was, we were happy to return to our quiet hotel just outside town.
The following day we had
no plans and there wasn't a cloud in the sky so we took full advantage of our pool and lounge chairs. All day we laid in the sun and swam to cool off, it was extremely relaxing. At some point we booked our tickets to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC or Saigon for the people that were alive pre 1975) for the following day. Originally the tickets were for 8am, but after lounging around and having a hard time leaving the pool we changed our departure time to 1pm. The sun had tuckered us out so we stayed in packing and watching a couple shows before calling it a night.
After changing our bus tickets it was kind of upsetting to wake up to a partially cloudy sky on our last morning. Luckily it wasn't raining or looking like rain so we still got some pool/lounge time in the morning before we had to leave.
Mui Ne was an interesting town. We really enjoyed our time there and could have easily found things to fill our days with if we were able to stay longer (it's apparently a great place for kite surfing and other water sports). The
one downside was the poor quality of the beach. It was very small and almost non-existent at high-tide. The majority of the hotels are expensive resorts so it can be hard to find a budget-friendly place to stay. If we didn't have a pool we wouldn't have liked it quite so much. Our whole reason for going was to lay on the beach and since we didn't get a chance to do that, the pool was a must.
After just over 6 hours on the bus we made it to HCMC where we planned to explore the capital of the south, our last city in Vietnam.
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