After Saigon, we were ready to escape the manic and polluted city life and relax for a few days at the beach. Our first stop, Mui Ne, a town famous for its beach resorts and fish sauce. There are resorts for miles stretching along the beach, which is unfortunately not really big. Lots of turquoise water and fishing boats, but not a lot of sand. We found a reasonably priced hotel write on the beachfront and went straight for the water. Warm and salty, just like it’s supposed to be. We marveled as the men took out there coconut shaped tubs with their cast nets to fish the evening’s dinner.
There are some spectacular natural sites near Mui Ne. The most famous are the white and red sand dunes, and a red stream lined with sandstone structures. Fab and I took a bike for the day, and ventured out to visit these sites. The red stream, known as the fairy stream, was right near the village. We parked our bikes, took off our shoes, and began our 20 minute hike through the shallow waters. It was beautiful watching the snowy white sand run down the hill and turn red as it touched the water. The red and white sand contrasted with the green coconut trees and the perfect blue sky was a feast for the eyes. From the fairy stream, we biked about 5 km to the red sand dunes, where kids lined the streets, renting their sand sleds. We decided to save the red sand dunes for the trip back and continued toward the white sand dunes about another 8km away. Our bikes were one speed and the terrain got hillier. It got especially hard when we road along an unprotected stretch of beach where the wind was blowing so hard, I felt like I could make more progress on foot than on bike. Not to mention my bike didn’t fit me well, and my knees were starting to hurt. To make matters worse, Fabien got a flat tire a couple of kilometers before we reached the white dunes. Tired and frustrated, our magical morning was turning into an afternoon nightmare. Luckily a guy on a motorcycle came by and offered Fabien a lift. So they put the bike upside down on the motorcycle between the two of them and sped off towards town in search of a place to repair the tire. I started pedaling back towards the red sand dune, an easier feet with a strong tail wind. Fab and I managed to meet back at the dunes, where we took one turn each on the sand sled; I had sand stuck in all the most inconvenient places. Afterwards we biked quickly back to the hotel (before the air ran out of Fab’s tire) for a much needed shower and a well-deserved cold beer.
The next morning, we left for Nha Trang, 4 hours north on the coast. Nha Trang was a much more happening city, tons of hotels, restaurants, and bars. We treated ourselves to a fantastic fish BBQ of red snapper and Vietnamese white wine from Dalat. It’s the first time I drank wine in months and it was delicious. The beach in Nha Trang is quite big with lots of white sand, but unfortunately extremely littered. The water isn’t much better, there were plastic bags everywhere you looked and all kinds of other refuse. Unfortunately, the paradise from a distance was a trash dump up close. Instead of hanging out on the city beach, we took a boat trip to 4 of the outlying islands. Not nearly as serious as our snorkeling trips in Thailand, but definitely a lot of fun. We snorkeled a bit off a small coral reef, then after lunch, we had a floating bar. The boat was blasting dance music and everyone was floating in life rings drinking grape wine, not a bad way to spend a Wednesday afternoon. Exhausted after a long day in the sun on the boat, we got on a night bus to go to Hoi An…the stop we had long been looking forward to.