Beach and beer!
Just driving down the road
More pictures to come!
We just arrived back in Korea after our week long vacation in Vietnam. Let's start from the beginning.
We left Jinju at about 1030AM on Sunday morning, leaving us way too much time to get to the airport, but at least I didn't have any nightmares about missing the flight. It takes about 5-6 hours to get to the airport and our flight was at 7. So, once we got to the airport we hung out in the bookstore killing time reading English magazines and books.
Once we arrived in Ho Chi Minh/Saigon (the name was changed but most residents still refer to it as Saigon) we almost got ripped off big time by a taxi but it ended up being only a little bit. The hotel that we stayed in told us that we shouldn't pay more that $7USD for a taxi ride to the hotel the first taxi driver tried to charge us 300,000 VND (about $19), we pretty much laughed in his face and ended up paying 140,000 VND (about $9). Our taxi driver didn't quite bring us to the hotel we had to walk about a block on the crazy streets of Saigon. Our hotel was quite nice for $15 a night, A/C, comp breakfast, but no soap in the bathroom, oh well what's one day without a shower right? That night we walked around the block, it was pretty hoppin with bars and restaurants and bicycles and motorbikes and people. We stopped in a restaurant and got some delicious food, coconut rice and grilled tuna with a spicy tomato sauce and of course beer:) Then back to the hotel for some shut eye before our journey to Mui Ne.
The next morning we woke up early to catch a bus to the beach and our wonderful resort. Mikey walked ahead while I paid the hotel bill so that we wouldn't miss the bus. As I left the hotel with the suitcase and backpack and laptop bag I got to an intersection that was quite busy. A little nervous I spotted some other foreigners right ahead of me, I looked and they were crossing the street. Thinking it was safe after a quick glance left I right I began to cross only to get hit by a motorbike! Ahhhhhh! Don't worry it's more funny than anything because I'm alright and I only have a scratch on my leg to prove it. Next, we got on a crowded hot bus and headed through the busy streets to the busy highway.
Five hours later we arrived and checked into our beautiful resort bungalow on the beach. Some pictures and then to the beach to swim! We decided to eat at the resort next door because it was right on the beach with a beautiful view and our hotel beach front restaurant was under construction. After an early dinner and some frisbee we walked down the beach to check it out. We came back to the road and stopped in a few stores. They took my conditioner at the airport so I was on the search for more. At one store I went to look and ended up standing on some ants and getting attacked...so itchy! Alas, no conditioner to be found in Mui Ne. Back to our hotel we were surprised at how early it got dark and decided to chill out and drink some beer on the beach for the night, yum!
We woke up quite early and went for a run on the beach. Early in the morning the local fishers are out bringing in their nets which was pretty cool to see. We went all the way to the end of our beach where it turns rocky and you can't really go much further. A man was coming out of the water with a face mask on from diving and gave us a whole bag full of shells. We were running so we didn't have any money to give him but he gave us the shells anyway. They are really cool and colorful.
After a big breakfast we rented some bicycles and went in search of the Fairy Stream. We ditched the bikes by a pine tree and took to foot though some sand dunes to find the stream. I was wearing sandals and the sand was scorching hot, but once we found the stream it was okay. It was amazing with palm trees on one side and rocky cliffs on the other. The water was quite warm but way better than sand. We stopped at a little shop up the hill from the stream in the middle of the woods and were greeted by two little girls who were fighting over my attention as I picked them up and swung them around. We sat and drank some water and iced tea while their mother swung them in hammocks. Onwards to a waterfall and some more climbing, then back to find the bikes by the pine tree. It was exhausting in the heat and took about 4 hours so we went back to the resort and just relaxed for the rest of the day.
After the heat of the previous day we wizened up and permanently ditched the bicycles for a motorbike! We went through the town of Mui Ne to the Red Sand Dunes and hiked around those. Just riding on the bike was exciting. In Vietnam they drive in very interesting ways, instead of looking before you turn or pass someone you are supposed to just honk your horn. Even if you are going head on into another car you just honk longer, at least that's how it seems. It wasn't so bad in Mui Ne as in Saigon, here you just have to watch out for cows crossing and stuff.
We turned down a dirt road into the country. The road was covered in rocks and ruts and there was basically 1 path to follow on the bike about 6 inches wide. At one point to the right was a big rut and to the left was a steep hill. I was driving at this point, and hit a rock and the bike went crashing down. We were going quite slowly so no injuries were sustained but I decided to let Mike take over the driving for the rest of the day (me and motorbikes were not getting along).
That night we headed out the a bar called DJ Station. They had a pool table and darts and quite a few foreigners. We meet up with an Australian couple and a Russian couple. There are quite a few Russian tourists in Vietnam, at on of the restaurants we got handed a Russian menu instead of English, haha. After a fun night of way too many beers we decided to meet again on Friday night at another bar called Pogo.
We took the bike in the opposite direction towards the city of Phan Thiet. We stopped on the way to explore the Cham Tower, which was built in the 13th century by the Cham Kingdom. There is a Buddhist temple there and then up a hill with no shade you can get the the tower. It's pretty impressive for being so old. Then we drove a little bit into the city of Phan Theit, I bought some fish sauce, it's supposed to be really good we'll see. We didn't go too far because we didn't want to get lost in the city.
That night we got a dinner of fresh grilled crab with garlic. It was really delicious but crab requires a lot of work for a little meat so when you very hungry like us it's frustrating but worth it!
We decided to stay low key that night and walked down the beach but couldn't go as far as before because they started doing more construction that blocked it off. There is so much construction going on in Mui Ne I'm glad we got there before it gets even more crowded. The beaches are unfortunately suffering from all the pollution and are often filled with reddish/brown algae. We still went swimming but sometimes it was kind of gross.
Our last full day. I woke up early to watch the sunrise on the beach, I surprised at how many people are up and out at 530AM. It was calming to sit on the beach and watch the sunrise and watch the fishermen and people walk by. Everyone seems quiet and peaceful, or at least I was.
We had to return the bike at noon, so I woke Mike up at 8AM we ate breakfast and headed out on the bike, I even decided to drive! We were trying to find the White Sand Dunes but I don't think we did. We found some sand dunes and hiked around those for a while. It was pretty far out and we were into the country. There were lots of cows and the roads were much quieter than I expected. It was very beautiful. We sadly returned the bike and hung out on the beach the rest of the day.
That night we met up with our Russian friends at Pogo. We hopped on the motorbike taxis right outside our hotel. Not even halfway there the bike I was on ran out of gas. So, the driver of Mike stopped and I hopped on their bike (3 on a bike of course!). We got there and I didn't think we should have to pay full price but the guy insisted so we did, even though it was only $1.50 it's the principal.
Pogo is a bar owned by an Australian gentleman. It is right on the beach, part of the seating is on the sand with bean bags and low tables and a fire pit. The bar is built with some live palm trees as support. It felt like we took a trip back to the 60s. There was a live band, who were ummm interesting, a pool table and lots of foreigners. We did some dancing and drinking and talking and headed home.
Our last day, we had to check out by noon, so we went swimming and packed and then waited in the resort lobby for our bus to Saigon for about an hour. The bus was supposed to come at 130, but was late of course so we didn't catch it until just after two. The seats were so small on the bus and it was so hot we paid an extra $3 so that we could have the sleeper seats, ahhh so much better. About 5 hours later we arrived in Saigon. Unfortunately we had all our bags to lug around with us. We did some final shopping and stopped for some last eats and drinks before heading to the airport. Taxi, airplane, bus, bus, taxi and we're back home, sad that it's over but satisfied.