Sep 2, 2014

Mui Ne, Day One

in continuation of my vietnam chronology, read about day 1 and day 2 here. if you want to see how is it like travelling in vietnam during the rainy season, you can see this post

alright. here goes day three! 

the day began with us oversleeping (as usual) so we only had time to run to the bus (a five minute run) and tapau banh mi and iced milo for breakfast while the rest of the passengers were loading up their luggage. 

we bought one-way tickets from a bus company called phuong trang (also called Futa Buslines) on de tham street for 150,000 dong each.

to return from Mui Ne, you'll have to buy the tickets at Mui Ne itself. 
breakfast! the iced milo on the left is in a pikachu plastic bag. heh. 
here's how the bus looks like. its a sleeper bus, so you can adjust the seat to recline. seven hours to mui ne! 
seats are reasonably spacious. at least i could stretch my legs. 

views from the bus:
the bus began playing vietnamese pop songs. if you zoom in, you can see the tiny screen on the right of the driver. their music videos seem to be heavily influenced by koreans. 

from the bus, i noticed one thing about the vietnamese. it's a wonderfully laid back country, and to prove it, here are four types of seating arrangements in their restaurants/eateries:

1. the teensy chairs and tables. most common style of seating. strewn all over saigon and any restaurant. we encountered it while having banhmi and iced coffees. 

2. drinks. rows of teensy chairs are set up at side-walks. tourists sit in ROWS, as if they're watching a performance. basically it's good for people watching, and chugging bottles of cheap beer in hand. the backpacker district is full of these. nightlife yo.

3. i saw most of these from the bus. there are lots of roadside stalls selling coconut drinks and soft drinks, and instead of chairs and tables, THEY HAVE HAMMOCKS. my drawing is terrible but i promise you, loads of hammocks are hung up all over the place and there's even a small table between hammocks. imagine three best buds chilling on the hammocks, sipping on fresh green coconuts. fuah. this just cemented vietnam as the 'chillest' country i've seen so far. hammock eateries. i shall open a restaurant like that in the future. hehehe.

4. lastly, this type of seating is only seen in mui ne. you know those old uncle style reclining chairs with white, yellow, red and blue plastic weaving? bunches of these chairs are strewn all over the restaurant. take a drink, munch on peanuts, and leaaan all the way back, creaking on the recliner. bliss.

i spent my time admiring the scenery and reading red lights and green lizards (a book about cambodia that i got in bookworms) to get a slightly better feel of vietnam. the scenery is not very impressive. we're still in asia, after all. then i dozed off. 

after seven hours, luckily siau li's pro observation skills noticed that we missed our stop. so we got off and trudged in search of the hotel 15 minutes away. 

here it is! Nhu Huong Muine Backpackers Hotel. 
i really tried to like this little hostel. their website seems really good, and tripadvisor reviews are positively glowing. but here's the deal. 

during check in, the receptionist asked for our passports, and then held on to it. 

when we asked for our passports, she said they will keep it, because the police will come to the hostel everyday and check the passports of the hotel guests or something like that. 

she gestured to a flimsy wooden cupboard, "we keep here, very safe. everyone also give us."

 "if you have photocopy, then i give back to you. if not, no."

WAUGH. we're foreigners in your country. we need our passports. after ages of arguing and trying to make her see reason (they don't have a photocopy machine in their 'lobby'), finally i asked her if we can take a photograph of our passports and then email the image to them instead. 

she begrudgingly agreed. then she wanted us to do it right away in the lobby. hahaha by that time siauli was so angry that we just took our passports and went to the room. 
here's siauli looking like a boss, sending the receptionist our passport details from the camera. 

that passport incident got our stay off to a bad start. 
we booked a 'pool view' room, and here's the view from the balcony. the pool is teensy! probably three strokes would get you to the other end. loads of backpackers were hanging out by the pool, reading and chilling. 

after i took a shower and lolled about for a bit, i realised that there is no electric kettle and hair  dryer in our room. 

about an hour had passed since the check in passport incident, so i went back to the receptionist to ask her about the hair dryer and kettle. 

when i arrived at the lobby, this australian looking dude (he's wearing the total backpacker uniform of baggy chang beer singlet and billabong-like surfer shorts) was chatting to another man at the counter. i thought he was just another guest. 

so i went up to the same vietnamese receptionist who is now chatting with a girl friend at the counter, and asked her about the hair-dryer. 

she ignored the question and without looking at me, said curtly, "have you sent the passport?"

whoa. lady. we emailed you our so-called important passport details to you an hour ago, and now you're asking me about it? 

with a huff and puff she stood up and went over to the computer, opened up the inbox and tried to search for it. i helpfully pointed out siau li's name. 

she clicked on it, then paused. 

i asked her about the hair dryer again. 


then in a high pitched tone, she went "XX(couldn't catch the name), come overrrr, how to do theees?"

and the australian dude bounded over and proceeded to teach her how to print in an all oh-how-many-times-do-i-have-to-flirtariously-teach-you-this style, while she began giggling and flirting and drawing circles on his hand which is holding the mouse.

whoa. please don't tell me he's the manager of this place. 

after he taught her how to print our passport details, he began to vigorously massage both of the ladies. 

"how are my girls doing, huh?"

while his girls giggled happily. 

i stood there, silently witnessing this impressively weird display of hotel staff behaviour. 

finally the other girl took pity on my pitiful pleas for kettles and hair dryers and told me blankly, "there's no hair dryer, kettle is in kitchen. back there", vaguely gesturing somewhere after the pool. 

that's the second incident that weirded me out. 

trying to stay upbeat, we decided to explore the place for a bit. one of the reasons we booked this hostel is because it's 'beach-front'. 

when we bounded to the beach:  
abundant clumps of spongy disturbing solid-looking foams scudded along the coastline. dive in if you dare. 

here's the backyard. quite pretty!  
if you're not into swimming and prefer to chill and read, this is a pretty good spot. too bad it's always taken. 
two of the housekeeping staff are laughing and trying to pick coconuts. cute! 

we went for a walk around Mui Ne, trying to get a feel of that place. but it's a rather touristy area (looooong stretch of road with nothing but hotels and seafood shops) and it began raining, so we decided to buy some coffee and snacks from a random kedai runcit and chill at the balcony.

while we looking for the kitchen for that elusive kettle, the new security guard finally pointed us to the kitchen. and while we were boiling the hot water, he then stood there and watched us. frankly, he didn't watch over us kindly. 

siauli is very creeped out. hahahahahha. so that's the third weird situation. 

but here's my favorite thing about the place. 

there's a really cool garden bar next to our hostel, and their live bands' playlist is nice! 

so basically we got to chill on the balcony while the a night breeze came by every now and then, coconut fronds by the pool waving in the orange street light, rainwater dripping here and there, while we sip on delicious instant vietnamese coffee, reading, and listening to the nice live band from Joe's garden café 

when our ponchos got blown off the balcony to the swimming pool below, i went down to collect it. 

then i saw a couple playing scrabble on their balcony, on the ground floor, surrounded by hibiscus bushes! 

it's actually a really pleasant place to stay. 

perhaps they need a photocopy machine in the lobby and some training for their staff, that's all. 

*stalker shot of the café from our balcony. heh*

oh well. tomorrow we head to the sand dunes! 

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