Making my way to Mui Ne by bus is an adventure in itself. Standing on the busy street of Ho Chi Minh, a man on a motorbike turned up to take me to the bus. Bare in mind that this bike was carrying me, my taxi man, and my backpack and camera backpack. To put it lightly, we were packed to the brim. Fortunately the ride wasn’t a long one and when I boarded the bus I was pleased to find that my ticket was for a sleeper bus. Yay! Lots of leg space.
So I plugged my earphones in, cranked up some music and watched the world go by out the window.
It wasn’t long before I arrived in the relatively small beachside city of Mui Ne. The little sister to Nha Trang, Mui Ne is famous for its beaches, sand dunes and surfing. I was excited to be here because I had heard that it was a great, and cheap, place to try your hand at kite surfing. Well sorry to disappoint, but the kite surfing in Mui Ne was not cheap by any standards. So I had to put that option aside for another adventure. But what Mui Ne did have was sand dunes. Two mini desserts to be specific.
My friends and I dragged ourselves out of bed and drove to the White Dunes just outside of town. Climbed to the highest point our legs and time constraints would allow to watch the sun rise. Everyone knows I love a good sunrise, and this place does put on a show. Sadly, the beauty of the moment is rudely interrupted by the overly tourist set up that is built up around it. As soon as you exit the bus you are hounded by aggressive salesmen trying to charge to US$100 to travel no more than 600m along a sand dune. Catching unsuspecting tourists off guard due to their pre dawn slumber state, they are just out to make a buck. My friends and I walked the distance in almost the same time and enjoyed the view.
Next we went to the red dunes, which if I can be brutally honest, need to be shut down. The tourism scene has not been kind to this natural wonder. And the locals that are selling their wares around the site seem hell bent on sucking the last breath of life from the place rather than preserving it for longevity.
Coerced into hiring an overpriced piece of plastic we did our best to make the most of the trip and go ‘sand boarding’. However, we couldn’t find any dunes....this was a sand dune dessert right?! The lady that sold is our plastic hurriedly guides us to a ‘good’ dune. No kidding, it was maybe 5 m tall. We looked at it and laughed but had a go at it anyway. The same lady schooled us in how to use the plastic, however, she didn’t take into consideration that the three of us are 6’2” Europeans and not small Vietnamese children..so instead of skimming down the dune face at a great pace, it looked more like a slow motion video. We couldn’t help but laugh at how hilarious we must have looked. After about 20mins we conceded and found and cafe for some overpriced Vietnamese coffee.
Jumping aboard the bus we weaved our way to the Fishing Village. I loved this place. The sun was high in the sky and the iridescent blue of the ocean was shining. Everyday, this small fishing village hauls in the nets on there circular boats and the women of the village sort and clean the produce for market. It is an impressive sight.
We had just one more stop on this adventure packed morning, the fairy streams. It was more of a mystery stop for the three of us as we had just been told by other travellers to go there. Jumping off he bus we were guided to the entrance of a low running creek where they told us to remove our shoes and walk along the creek. Not questioning any of this, we all removed our shoes and commenced the journey along the stream. It became clear very quickly why they call this place the fairy stream. Apart from the geological formations that kind of resemble the Disney ideal of a fairy house, the colourful sediment layers and the sound of the babbling brook made it kind of magical.
The journey along the stream, however brief, was a definite highlight of Mui Ne.