After a month or so working and not leaving the city, I decided we needed to escape. We had been spending our weekends chilling out at our apartment, having long lie ins then doing a bit of exploring around HCMC. I have been working on completing my Personal Training Level 3 coursework, so most weekends I’ve been finding cafes to do some studying. It has been very therapeutic actually, just getting away by myself and watching the world go by in different coffee spots. Jonny usually plays football on the weekend so I like to use this time to do something by myself, be alone with my own thoughts and my coursework or writing these blogs. Man that sounds deep, but its so true! Sometimes you just need it.
We haven’t been away for a weekend just Jonny and I since we arrived in Vietnam so we booked Mui Ne for some couples chill time. We took the sleeper bus on the Friday night after work. This was a great experience and one I will definitely use again. The bus was your average size, but somehow it was jam packed with reclining chairs, pillows and blankets. The chairs reclined all the way back until you were practically lying down, very comfy! The journey itself was around 4.5hours long. But with a couple of short loo and cafe stops on the way, took more like 5.
We arrived in Mui Ne around 9pm on the Friday night and were transferred to our hotel by the bus company. Upon arrival at the hotel (Nam Chau Beach Resort), it was dark so we couldn’t get a proper feel for the resort but we could hear someone next door having a wonderful time singing karaoke with the music turned up full blast. Not what we wanted to hear for the start of our ‘relaxing’ weekend. We were taken to our small beach hut, dumped our bags and went out in search of food. The resort restaurant had closed so we had to walk out and find somewhere, by this point it was nearly 10pm. We walked up and down the quiet street where there wasn’t much going on and no where seemed open. However, as we walked past another resort on the same road which looked a little more upper class we decided to ask if their restaurant was open. Thank god it was as we were about to give up on finding food and starve for the night! A club sandwich and fries went down a dream and a couple of cans of pop. Walking back to the hotel we were praying that the loud karaoke music had stopped so we could get a restful nights sleep. We were in luck and all was quiet and peaceful on our return.
The next day we decided to hire bikes and explore some of the Mui Ne’s coastline. We spent the morning relaxing under a parasol and putting the world to rights. We then hired a moped and drove down into Mui Ne town in search of an ATM and some lunch. We stumbled across a few nice souvenir shops selling classic tourist clothing and some funky shirts. Jonny had been searching for some cheap shirts for a while, so we spent some time in here deciding which ones were the most fitting. We continued on the bikes for a lunch spot. We had been recommended by some friends that we must try the seafood in Mui Ne. With it being a fishing town it would be stupid not to. We found a nice spot which was busy with locals (always a good sign) by the coast overlooking the sea which was scattered with fishing boats and coracles.
We sampled their squid, shrimp and crabs. Unfortunately for me they only gave us chop sticks to eat with. Not my forte! However, being forced to use them is making me a little better. Little being the key word. The locals must have noticed I was struggling as soon after they brought over a fork. They also noticed that we hadn’t eaten half the meat in our crabs (because I didn’t want to break my teeth) so brought us some nut crackers to get into them. Classic westerners.
That evening we decided to catch the sunset at the Red Sand Dunes which were conveniently located just round the corner from our hotel. This place was buzzing with locals and tourists all trying to get a glimpse of the sunset in such a beautiful setting. There were local ladies selling sheets of plastic for those who wanted to slide down the sand dunes, but Jonny and I were just concerned with getting to the top to see the sunset.
The calf burn walking up the sand dunes was a killer but all worth it when we made it to the top where we had amazing views. Unfortunately as we could see the sun setting a sheet of clouds came over so we couldn’t see it properly, but it was still a magical evening.
After this we headed out for dinner in a square where there was a vast array of eateries – Dong Vui Food Court. Here we felt at home with a few backpackers and a fair few older expat men and women who obviously lived there or had the same idea as us to flee the city for the weekend. Here we enjoyed sampling some of the different foods on offer, including piri piri ribs, curry with naan bread and some cheesecake for dessert. We spent the night playing backgammon and drinking watermelon mojitos. Ideal!
Our final day in Mui Ne consisted of more sand dunes. This time we travelled over half an hour on the bike to the White Sand Dunes. These sand dunes where much greater in size and also allowed for jeeps and quad bikes to speed around them making huge sand sprays. On our way to the dunes we drove down the beautiful coastal road. This was the kind of road that makes you feel all warm inside and happy with life. However, here we experienced our first encounter with the police. They pulled us over on the bike by waving their truncheon and blowing a whistle. We had been warned about the police stopping people (mainly westerners) on the roads and asking for money. In Vietnam the police system is so corrupt, you have to be prepared to give the odd bribe. We had been told a few weeks prior that if we were to have a run in with the police that we should say we are from England but we are living in Vietnam and working as teachers. The cops seemed put off from charging us (due to our profession and residency) and let us on our way. God knows why they stopped us in the first place.
Once we arrived at the White Sand Dunes we were stunned by their size and beauty. We decided this was where we wanted to do something fun so paid for a quad bike to join in the fun on the sand. A driver helped us onto the bike and showed Jonny how to drive. I rode back seat and contributed to the enjoyment with some loud shrieks and giggles. The driver also took over to show us how it was really done as he whizzed us up and down the huge sand dunes. Both of us clinging on for dear life but enjoying the rollercoaster like experience!
The rest of our Sunday was spent being lazy by the beach and enjoying the sounds and scenery of the ocean around us.
Living in a really busy city where all you hear is motorbike horns or kids shouting in Vietnamese, it is very humbling when you go somewhere so quiet and peaceful. It really makes you appreciate it so much more. Let’s just say the weekend was not enough and we will definitely be back to Mui Ne very soon!