Saturday, February 15, 2014

Surfer's town of Mui Ne

Mui Ne is located on the East coast of Vietnam, about 3.5 hrs South-East of Dalat. If you are coming from Saigon, you are better off visiting Mui Ne first and then to Dalat. However, Mui Ne is Backpacker's favorite and hence make sure to book your stay well in advance, especially if you are a solo backpacker. Bus from Dalat costs about USD 7 (lesser if its not a holiday season).
My bus started early in the morning at around 7 AM stopping at many hotels to pick up the travelers. Within 2 hours or so, we had descended a couple of mountains to leave the highlands behind us and we hit the flat road once again. About an hour from Mui Ne, you get the first glimpse of South China Sea, which borders east of Vietnam. The skies were clear and water looked stunningly blue. Closer to the town you get a desert-like feel with white sand dunes on each side of the road and red canyon like structure every now and then. The Sea appears again on the left side of the road and continues till you reach the town. Blue skies, blue water! As you get closer to the town the blue sky is dotted with kites of various colors and the blue water is dotted with kite-surfers, flying fast on the water, jumping every now and then.
Our bus stopped at the main street, which crowded by hotels, cafes and surf shops. My hostel, Mui Ne Backpacker's hostel was only 300 mtrs from where the bus stopped. The hostel is run by a friendly Australian. It is very clean, has a swimming pool and free lounge chairs facing the ocean. It costs USD 10 per night in a dormitory. The ocean here is not calm and winds are really strong. But lounge chairs are perfect to sit and hear it roar and read a book or enjoy a drink.
Lounge chairs

Watching the surfers

It is possible to get surfing lessons which costs about USD 50 per hour. The cafes nearby are expensive and have menus written in Vietnamese, English and Russian, owing to a large Russian community settled here. If you go a little north, about 1 km, you will find cheaper restaurants and good food.

I met a few backpackers there and we rented a Jeep to go to Sand dunes. About USD 8 per person and you can go to Fairy stream, fishing village, white sand dune and red sand dunes. Fairy stream is about 5 kms from the center and is a small water stream which is at the most knee deep. It runs through bamboo forests and red canyons. We walked through the stream for a while enjoying the surroundings, before the water became too deep and we decided to turn back.
Fairy stream

Passing through the Canyons

We took a brief stop at the fishing village. The view from the street was simply stunning. Hundreds of small boats of different colors were anchored in the water. The sun shown the water very clear. And the boats, with no activity, seemed almost solemn and unchanging, as if they were meant to be there!
I love it!

However, too soon our driver asked us to get back into the jeep. Our faces dejected, we sat back and headed onward to the white sand dunes. White sand dunes are about 35 kms from the town and on the way you pass red sand dunes, which are about 11 kms from the town. The entrance to white sand dunes is VND 10,000 and there you will be immediately approached by kids offering a 4wd ride or a slide down the sand dunes. The engine of these vehicles is not very powerful and more often than not you will get stuck in the sand. You are better off on your foot! Its a great expanse of the dunes and you can walk as much as you want. Running down the dunes is really fun, but climbing back again requires patience and lot of energy. As you climb the dunes, the wind is uncontrollably strong and flying sand particles sting the naked body parts, especially legs if you are wearing shorts. Its advisable to wear full pants and full sleeve shirts. Also, sun-glasses are preferable to protect the eyes. In spite of strong wind and stinging sand particles, the feeling there is quite remarkable. This is something you will never imagine to be in Vietnam. It's like a mini desert. White sands with blue skies at the backdrop are like a paradise for a  photographer!
White sand dunes

We left the dunes to go to the red ones, to catch the sunset. Red dunes are not really red in color. The sand there has a reddish glint, but still is white. However, sunset lights the place on fire and the sand seems red. Its much smaller than white dunes and hence seems crowded. From the top of the dunes, you can see the ocean towards east. The change in color of the sand as the sun sets is quite drastic.
Red dunes

Sun set

Real color of the sand

Sun, lighting it up
Mui Ne is not like the rest of Vietnam. It is not a place to look for culture and cheap food. It is a place to relax, enjoy beer and sea food. It is a place to learn kite surfing or wind surfing. If you want to learn surfing, this is a great place, but you would rather keep at least a week for it then. If you want to just relax and bathe in the sun, a couple of days here are good enough. I loved the place and wanted to stay more, but there was still half the Vietnam left with my budget for the country already exceeding the planned one, and so the next morning I watched the sun rise and left the place to go further north to the ancient town of Hoi An!
Sun rise at the beach 

1 comment:

  1. Nice commentry. You have created keen interest in the mind of readers.
    Hemant Ketkar