The Sand Box

Mister Anh was kind enough to let us shower in an empty hotel room before our night bus to Mui Ne, even though we already checked out of our room.  It was nice to enter a night bus feeling refreshed rather than filthy from a day of touring the city in the exhaust filled streets.  The night bus was much nicer than our previous one from Phnom Penh.  We each had our own, larger seat.  The bus was also not packed and we were two of only five tourists on board.  The ride was only five hours long, so that meant we would arrive in Mui Ne in the middle of the night.  Luckily, John is a light sleeper, so he was awake when we stopped in the center of town at 1:30am.  The bus driver didn’t speak English and we had no idea if we were in the right place, but we got off anyway.  We were surprised to see such a quiet Vietnamese town after spending a few days in chaotic Saigon.  After weeks of being greeted by hoards of tuk tuk drivers and taxis upon entering any city by bus, this felt quite strange.  Mister Anh assured us we would be able to find a guesthouse by just showing up and he also instructed us to refuse to pay more than $10USD/night.  As we aimlessly wandered the dark, sleepy streets, we began to question his advice.  It didn’t seem like anything was open for us to even ask about a room.  We continued down the street and saw a sign of life!  A small road side bar stand with one customer, an English speaking tourist!  Phew.  We asked him if he knew of any inexpensive accommodations nearby and he pointed us to a building called The Sun.  The lights were out but he promised us there would be a man sleeping in a hammock under a bug net behind the reception desk.  He personally walked us there and woke the man up and asked if he had any rooms for us for $10USD.  In a haze of sleep, he quickly agreed and showed us to a nice room with a private bathroom and fan.

We thanked our savior and got to work making our room comfortable.  The bed had a bug net, but the window did not have a screen.  We didn’t want to have to fight mosquitos and other unwelcome visitors while outside of our bed, so we used the bug net we had been carrying around to cover the window (this was a common occurrence for us in SE Asia).  We got the fan going in front of the window to cool everything down and settled in for the night, or maybe I should say morning.

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Mui Ne is a beach town with one main tourist attraction: the red and white sand dunes.  They seemed as if they would be pretty impressive and Mui Ne was on the way to Da Lat, so we figured we could give it a shot.  We rented a motorbike to explore the coast and check out the dunes.  The ride was gorgeous (although very dusty) and we enjoyed stopping along the way to take pictures.  At one point, we pulled up to a viewpoint on a hill and looked out into the harbor below and saw hundreds of fishing boats.  It took us about an hour to get to the white sand dunes and when we got there, we were two of only four tourists and we saw about 15-20 workers sitting around just waiting for people to come and buy snacks or rent an ATV for the sand.  They didn’t try too hard to get us to buy anything, so we just casually strolled around for a bit.  We thought the sand dunes were nice, but less impressive to us than the ones in Colorado at the Great Sand Dunes National Park.  Regardless, we were in it more for the journey and we had so much fun riding around the countryside.  We began to imagine what it would be like if we had rented a motorbike in South Vietnam and rode all the way to the North.  Maybe next trip!  My favorite image of the ride was when we passed a Vietnamese man on his motorbike with two baskets on the back of his bike.  We heard some strange noises and soon realized he had 3 goats in the baskets!  Their heads were poking out and they were screaming loudly.  Sadly, I didn’t get a photo, but this was just the first of many images I now have of strange/massive items being carried on the back of a motor bike in Vietnam.  Equally as humorous as seeing goats on a motorbike, was looking at what John was able to achieve during our joy ride that day.  Let’s just say something must have gone terribly wrong during his sunblock application.

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We spent the evening eating some delicious beef Pho at a road side stand and trying some Vietnamese rice whiskey while a cute Cambodian child gave me Power Rangers stickers.  We followed that up with a happy hour beer at a beach side resort across from our hotel.  The ocean comes up too far to allow for swimming or sun bathing, but the waves crashing against the wall outside of the resort was a welcome, relaxing sound.

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