After filling up on the delights of Ho Chi Minh City and the spectacular MeKong Delta, Liz and I traveled by bus up the coast to Mui Ne, a seaside oasis known for it’s gold-red sand dunes, sand sledding, and stunning beaches.
Actually, if it wasn’t for our goal of landing in Hanoi to meet Jen in twenty days, I could have lounged in this expat haven for months! But alas, I can always return to HCMC- perhaps to live and teach English one day. So onward (and upward) with the Three Brothers Transport bus duct-taped-van to Vietnam’s windward coastline.
Having suffered through the stifling humidity of the Mekong basin and the dead-heat, no-breeze land of HCMC, we eagerly welcomed the slightly cooler temps along Mui Ne’s shores. Our TB van dropped us off at a lovely beachfront bungalow, where for $5 a night, we were given a hammock, a front porch, and the gentle lull of rushing waves to sooth us to sleep.
I like to think I’m a beach bum, but I can honestly only lie on a beach and soak up the sun for a few days before I get bored. So, after three books (I’m a fast reader), many naps, and several “life” conversations with Liz, we were ready to head out and see the sites of Mui Ne.
Mui Ne Sand Sledding– The “big” draw to Mui Ne are the gold-red sand dunes. For $1, tourists (and adventuring locals) can rent a metal sheet and slide down the dunes. — Think winter snow sledding in reverse.— And, of course, we didn’t pass up the opportunity to test our sledding skills multiple times while learning the significant tip of keeping our mouths closed or suffering the dire consequences of brushing red sand from our teeth for many days henceforth.
Biking Mui Ne: Our seaside abode also rented bikes, and we took many early-morning jaunts around the harbor. It was too god-awful hot in the afternoon to do much of anything, let alone peddle a 1950’s bike along a near boiling pavement. While cooler in temperature, the morning hours also offered glimpses into the local life around the city. The fishing industry thrives in Mui Ne, and there were hundreds of lazy, red-blue boats lining the shoreline. We often found boat owners crouched next to their humble crafts, working fervently on a project, their faces weathered and wrinkled from decades of exposure to the elements.
When the midday sun reached to insufferable strengths (and it always did), we spent time journaling, reading, and researching and planning the next legs of our trip. Though I don’t often blog about it, both Liz and I spend a considerable amount of hours (and many of our evenings) working out budgets, researching time tables for transportation, and discussing the best options for onward travel. In this case, we were moving on to Da Lat, another spot where our TB transport could drop us off for a short spell before continuing up the coast to Hanoi.
Mountain Breezes of Da Lat – Da Lat is a charming city smack dab in the middle of mountains and pine forests. Cooler temps finally! Like many of the tourists that risked the steep mountain passes to arrive in Da Lat, the sweet city is also popular spot amongst locals for escaping the oppressive heat “down below.” Though the days were quite warm, I slept with a blanket for the first time in about three months! It was heaven.
Da Lat’s specialty is candied and dried strawberries and mulberries. We found these yummy treats in the market, along with football-sized avocados, five different types of bananas, and massive oranges. I tried to buy some candied goodies to send home, but then I wound up eating them all. Too good to share. After filling up on sugar, we rented motorbikes and rode on some back-country paths through the forests. I turned around a few miles out and took this photo of the skyline. Such colorful paint!
Onward to Nha Trang and Hoi An. Time is passing much too quickly in this wonderful country!