Our vacation from our vacation. :)
24.11.2009 - 28.12.2009 29 °C
Well we did it! We are proud of our accomplishment. We spent a whole month by the beach in Mui Ne, Vietnam, lounging underneath the sun, relaxing and loving life. It was hard at times but we managed to get through it.
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Before we headed to Mui Ne, we went to Ho Chi Minh City for a few days because Thanh had to apply for a new passport as her's was full, and I needed to get our computer fixed because it had been hijacked by a nasty virus it had picked up in Hanoi. The good news is that while the passport application was a little bit of a hassle and expensive, but a new one was ready in less than a week. The bad news is that the computer virus was too strong and too advanced for my computer to be saved so it had to be reformatted and Windows had to be reinstalled. Luckily we had backed up most of our pictures on Thanh's IPod, but not the latest ones from Laos and Cambodia. All in all, we lost around 2000 pictures and over 3000 songs to the virus (and an incompetent CPU technician)! Needless to say, we were bummed out for the next few days.
The positive out of all this was that we got to see a new side of HCMC and visit places we hadn't seen before (we were just here March '09). We also got to hang out with our new American friends for a couple of nights, Beth and Pierce, whom met on our bus ride from Phnom Phen (they helped cheer us up from all our lost pictures).
After we took care of business in HCMC, it was time for us to take a vacation from our vacation....
Officially the beach wasn't in Mui Ne but in Phant-Tiet-Mui Ne since it is located in between the cities of Thanh Thiet and Mui Ne. Thanh and I rented a small, serviced apartment there at a place called Shades. Now this place was cool. Very cool. Shades was situated on the beach and the place was super modern and stylish, and kinda looked like something you might find in Miami (it's not like I have ever been to Miami but I imagine there are cool places like this in South Beach).
So what did we do for a whole month? Well, not a whole lot. At least nothing stressful. We slept in and had breakfast by the sea every morning. Our apartment had a small kitchen and we often made ourselves lunch and supper. We would go to the local market and grocery store to buy our produce and meats. We had satellite TV and enjoyed discovering some new TV shows like Psych, which we watched everyday at 5pm while eating pre-supper snacks. I'd say we averaged around 3 hours a day working on our suntans, usually between late mornings and mid-afternoons. There were only four days in the whole month where I didn't go for a swim in the ocean. Thanh probably went for a dip every second day.
We did take a little guided tour of the area; the Fairy Stream, Fishing Villlage, and both the White and Red Sand Dunes.
The Fairy Stream was pretty cool. The stream is quite shallow and warm, and we got to walk on its soft, sandy floor. It was very comfortable and pleasing on the feet.
We didn't get to enter a Fishing Village (there is no Fishing Village but dozens of fishing boats anchored at sea) but we took pictures of the vessels from a cliff. Here Thanh befriended some local girls who loved her and gave her a free souvenir just because she was spoke Vietnamese.
The White and Red Sand Dunes were pretty cool, especially the white ones. I have yet to go to the Sahara Desert, but I imagine it is something similar. It was quite windy there and some gusts of wind would sandblast you. We got back to our apartment we had sand everywhere including inside our clothes and ears!
Twice we rented ourselves a motorbike for the day. It cost us $10 plus gas, per day (a rip off!). We used it to wander around the area a bit and also to go to the market and grocery store in Phan Thiet. Although I am a very experienced automobile driver, I had never used a motorbike before and I was a little nervous to drive one the first time. We had seen several motorbike accidents throughout Vietnam and I didn't want to be involved in one. The problem not only lies in the fact that everywhere there are pedestrians, bicycles, children playing, and animals running all over the streets, but the Vietnamese are wreck-less and do not abide to normal road rules on their motorbikes. They see no problem in driving through red lights at intersections or going against traffic. Simply put, they are crazy and very dangerous! (I have to admit that I also burned two red lights. As they say, “when in Rome...”). Anyways, the experience was awesome and I would love to do it again some day, but in a country where people have a little more respect for the laws.
Near the end of our stay, Thanh's friend Merryn (from Montreal) came to join us and spent Christmas with us. Merryn had been travelling throughout S.E.A. (Thailand & Cambodia) and came to spend her final week by the beach. So far, Thanh and I had travelled alone and having another person join us changed the dynamic a little bit, but for the better. Speaking of Christmas, we went all out! For supper we had lobster, tiger prawns, scallops, and one big grilled fish, which I got to fish myself out of an aquarium. It was quite a satisfying holiday feast and our bill came out to a whopping 1,020,000 Vietnamese Dong.....which is only $57 Canadian! LOL!
Here are various observations/experiences:
- Sometimes the local city bus doesn't stop for foreigners and just drives right by the bus stop like you didn't exist.
- The sea water in Mui Ne was very comfortable (I'm guessing the temperature was around 25C) and looked clean, but unfortunately and too often you would find garbage floating around you, like used coconuts, watermelon shells, and plastic bags. One morning I actually found a full pig washed up on shore in front of Shades. That was both weird and gross!
- Like all tourists traps, Mui Ne's prices were inflated, and the people take advantage of it. Even though Thanh fully speaks Vietnamese and we knew what the “real” prices were, the locals rarely ever gave us a break.
- Most restaurants in Mui Ne had the same menu and there was very little variety. The food isn't bad but it's may be some of the most ordinary in all of Vietnam. The menus are very much designed for “western” tastes. Thank God we had a kitchen!
- While inside the Co-Op supermarket, it wouldn't be unusual for a local (who is shopping themselves) to ask me/beg for money. Some of them really think we are walking ATMs.
- Three quarters of the Mui Ne tourists are from Russia and many establishments are Russian owned. I found them a little creepy and weird, especially since they always stuck to themselves and hardly socialized with other tourists.
- Phan Thiet is famous for it's fish sauce and once and a while you get a whiff of its pungent smell.
So that's it from Vietnam. Our next stop is Malaysia! Neither of us have never been there before and have no idea what to expect.
See you soon & GO HABS GO!!!
Mark & Thanh