Oct 12, 2014

Mui Ne Sand Dunes

photo-laden post! as usual. so here's day four of our vietnam chronology, and our second day in mui ne! the whole reason for taking a six-hour bus journey to mui ne is for their sand dunes, which i'm writing about today. at this point i was filled with  bad impressions upon mui ne (being kinda touristy and no good food either).
day four dawned bright and early and here's our breakfast. siauli tapau-ed banh mi while i dozed a bit more so we had bananas, coffee, yoghurt, banh mi, and some ritz crackers. not bad! :D
we took the evening sand dune tour (sunset views!) so we had the morning to explore mui ne. plans for the day: walk around, visit other resorts, rent a bike. 
we found a bike rental at an inn opposite our hostel.
some newcomers just got off the bus, dragging their suitcases
we found a tiny alley off the main road, and followed this family to the beach! 
here's mui ne's iconic little round fishing boats. the purpose of the rounded design is to evade government's tax for normal boat-shaped boats back then. heh. 

the weather was crazily hot, so we stopped to tapau some ice cold fruit juices. fruit stalls selling dragon fruits, bananas, and mangoes are all along the street. 
that motorist is a classic example of sun-evasion. 
we might have looked happy but in truth, sweat was flowing and we're tired out from all the cycling. siauli commented, "why this vietnam trip seems to be so hardcore ah?". HAHAHA. compared to last year's bangkok trip when all we did was eat and shop, this did seem rather more tiring lol. 
lunchtime! grilled meats with my banhmi! 
after we got back to our hostel for a shower and lunch, it's time to set off on the sand dune + magical fairy stream tour! 
tadah the fairy spring. it's a rather photogenic reddish sand dune and the formations are pretty interesting. so people can walk through the stream and get to a little waterfall at the end. 
here we go! our tour consists of five guests. me + sl, two british girls, and a couple from germany. our driver told us that entrance to the spring is free but when we entered, some little local boys demanded for a few thousand dong from each of us. luckily the german guy stood his ground and refused to pay up and finally they let us in! without him, probably we would have just paid up. these places do need some sort of proper system in place. 
these whitish stuff are just sand formations.
ta dah! our tour companions :D
these are the very cool brit girls. they're younger than me, and travelling around asia. 
we were only given 45 minutes at the fairy springs so halfway through the trek to the waterfall, we voted to give up so we can make it back in time :( 
here's the start of the trek. it looks like any normal stream out there. 
we climbed back in the jeep and headed to the next destination. it began drizzling. 
and then the jeep broke down.

HAHAHAHAHA. 

so while the flustered driver called his comrades to help us out (his friend picked him up in a bike, and zoomed off to get another jeep, leaving us behind), we explored the area a bit. 

luckily the jeep broke down at a sort of town area. while we stayed in a very touristy part of mui ne, this seems to be where all the locals live. 

so i hunted around for a washroom while siauli ordered coffee at a random coffeeshop. 

we had searched high and low in saigon for drip coffee, but here in a small town in mui ne, we found it. heehee. 
it drips really slowly. our driver got back in record time and we had to tapau the drip coffee instead :(

next stop: fishing village. 
more round fishing boats. 

this is where they haul in all their anchovies and stuff and the smell is ......... high heaven. 

bring nose plugs.

next stop on the tour: white sand dunes! 
you can see them in the distance! :D
here we are! due to time constraints, we were advised to take the atvs instead of walking the huge dunes. so we rented one for around RM50, if i remember correctly. here's siauli excitedly driving the atv. her driving quite scary lah. 
the place is huge! and strangely mesmerizing. a storm was on its way, winds whip mercilessly, but the beauty of the sand dunes is undeniable.  
set timer mode on the atv heh. 
finally it was about time to head back, but siauli drove the atv into some valley and we couldn't rev our way up lol and i tried not to panic but kept shouting "don't overturn!"

hahaha i got off and climbed up the hill instead so perhaps the atv could have a chance of getting out without our combined weight. no chance. 

here's siauli asking one of the local guides to help. HAHAHAHAHAHA. 
we humans are really small after all. aren't we? 
here's the hero to the rescue and siauli sitting behind him! 

after we put the atv back in the shed, that's when siauli told me that's her first time driving. 

her first time! 

:O

hahaha but that was fun :D 
while we waited for the others in our group, we walked to a gorgeous lotus lake nearby. 

final stop: red sand dunes!

here are some cows blocking the way. i love it when cows do that. we humans are reminded that our cars are useless in the face of cow butts and hooves and jangling cow bells. 
the red sand dunes are less picturesque compared to the white sand dunes and wayyy more crowded. 

local kids are everywhere with their plastic sheets for sliding downhill and there are lots of tourists around. 

here's a gif of siauli's failed sliding attempt:
and here's mine!
like that lo. quite fun, actually, for the plastic sheet rental. the kids put wax on the bottom of the plastic before you slide every time and they teach you how to lie back and relax etc. 

at the end they insisted for tips and it's painful to see these school-age kids (i asked them, the two boys are 10 and 11, while the girl with rather good english is 19 years old) demanding 50 cents from us. the german dude was really firm with them. while finally we gave in and tipped them.  it felt like we are contributing to their not-going-to-school by giving them tips! aagh!

stopped at this seafood place for dinner, recommended by a russian lady at a souvenir shop. 

verdict? as a Malaysian, i would have to say that the food isn't great. we had fried rice, veggies, squid, and a whole grilled fish, and the bill was quite affordable. 

but i wouldn't return there again la. give me bananas and yoghurt any day. 

that's it for the day of the sand dunes! it's a good place to see sand dunes/desert-like landscapes for those who have not seen anything like that in their lives, and basically, i didn't regret visiting mui ne lah! 

highlights: atv. white sand dunes. amazing scenery. the drive to the sand dunes was quite picturesque too. if you like cycling one can rent a bike and head to the sand dunes yourself. lots of local sights along the way. 

cons: bad seafood dinner. HAHAHAH. kids at red sand dunes not going to school :( 

woots. the next day we check out and head back to saigon! 

*****

whew. what a long post. i do dislike this style of dumping photos and writing captions in excuse for an blog post, but there's just no time T.T i've just recovered from a bout of terrible food poisoning, which i think was brought on by a weakened immune system from lack of sleep and too much travelling. it's an especially crazy hectic time for me currently, so expect less posts (lol as if my posts are not sparse enough) for the moment. 

it's october! how's your resolutions coming along? i can't believe it's gonna be 2015 in less than three months. daaamn. 

get more sleep, everyone. nights!