Mui Ne is a coastal fishing village in the South of Vietnam. I believe the population is around 25k. It’s quite small now, but it used to be even smaller. Back in the early 1990’s someone declared Mui Ne to be one of the best spots to watch the solar eclipse. Since then the tiny little fishing village has turned into a popular stop for locals and foreigners. It now boasts several high end resorts, restaurants and shops along its busy main street. It’s not actually a beach town per say, but they do have beaches near by, not the best in my opinion. They also have some impressive street art, which I’m always a fan of. I don’t know how I found Mui Ne on the map, but I know it had nothing to do with the solar eclipse.
I took one of those ridiculous sleeper buses to Mui Ne, again, mid day. It was raining cats and dogs outside (grandad reference), and I was just happy to be in a bus and not outside. I was sad to be leaving Ho Chi Minh City and of course I got an email with a job opportunity while I was in route. I always try to look at that sort of thing as a sign that it wasn’t meant to be. The rain, the terribly uncomfortable bus seat and my empty stomach were leaving me feeling lonely. I couldn’t have been grumpier rolling into Mui Ne.
The bus stopped, and I got off. I strapped on my two packs, got my google maps going and headed off down the road. About 30 seconds into my walk to my hostel it started sprinkling. I’m thinking, it’s all good, little water won’t hurt. Approximately 2 seconds after that thought passed through my compromised brain, it started full on pouring. I honestly and truthfully couldn’t see in front of me. I can’t stress enough how grumpy I am at this point in time. I was so wet, I couldn’t cry, because it would be bloody useless. I find a little café and duck in.
The café was just what I needed. I got some food, a coffee and pulled out my computer to do some blogging. I had a sandwich that I can’t really call a club, but that’s what they called it. It was a deliciously stacked sandwich with fat chunks of beef in it. The coffee was rejuvenating and brought me back to life. My intention was to only stay until the rain stopped, but I really liked it there. I ended up staying for a few hours mostly because they were playing music that made me feel happy and at home. It started to get late and I needed to get to my hostel.
I checked into my hostel which was hard to find because it was up a dark set of stairs from the street. The hostel was clean and had AC, which I needed desperately. It is owned by two brothers who are very friendly and accommodating. I was showed around the hostel, which was fully equipped with a pool, free laundry and fantastic ocean views. I needed a shower more than ever before. To my complete surprise there was only one shower for the dorm quests. I counted 18 beds and only one shower. Needless to say I had to wait 20 minutes to get a very overdue shower. After my shower, all I could do was lay down and pray for sleep.
The next morning was still rainy and cold, I was still grumpy and didn’t feel like doing much so I decided to post it up at an oceanside restaurant and get some work done. I ordered some soup and a coconut smoothie and pounded out a blog. When it started to rain on me sideways, or maybe it was back lash from the sea, I decided it was time to head back to the hostel and hide. I was finishing out the last season of Breaking Bad on Netflix. No better day for a Netflix marathon. I didn’t leave the hostel until late to get some dinner at a Mexican restaurant that underwhelmed me more than I wish to explain. I don’t know why I try western food here, because it is NEVER good. Seriously, I need to give up already. Anyways, that night at 10pm was the final World Cup game and although I hadn’t seen any of the other games and could give two shits, I still felt obligated to watch it. What else did I have going on? Smack dab right next to my hostel was a bar. I stopped in and noticed the projector down for the game, so I ordered a beer and settled in. That’s when I realized it was a Russian bar and the game would be aired in Russian, but whatever I hate the commentary anyways. I was just proud I made it past midnight. That’s a big accomplishment for me. I don’t even remember who won.
The next morning I woke up still in a funk (it’s the rains fault). I really needed to shake this so I decided to go for a walk. Mui Ne has some amazing natural anomalies and I just needed to go find them. I took off in the direction of the fairy stream. It was about an hour walk and if I had a dollar for each time I was asked if I wanted to take a motorbike taxi, then I would never come home, I would be rich. The same guy followed me and continually asked me if I wanted a ride. He really couldn’t take no for an answer and it annoyed me. I know they need work and I get that, but you need to leave people alone when they say no. I’m always polite but I secretly wanted to ring the guys neck. This girl enjoys walking and as long as my two feet are intact then I’m going to walk.
I loved the walk down to the stream which took me through the more local part of Mui Ne which was perfect to feed my culture loving soul. The fairy stream is a seriously unique experience. It’s a soft red creek that gets its beautiful color from the clay and limestone particles that trickle in from the strange rock formations along the shore. The creek is cool and clean and never much deeper than your knees. When I entered the creek, I felt like I was in a fairy tale jungle (I wonder if that’s how it got its whimsical name), because of the green brush and bamboo forest surrounding me. The creek acts as the path and you walk right through it into a clearing of the most amazing sand and rock formations. It felt like walking through a mini grand canyon. It was so picturesque and I spend an hour awestruck by how beautiful it was. That’s why there are so many pictures of it in this post, especially in places where they don’t belong. It doesn’t cost a thing to walk through the stream but I did pay an adorable little girl 22 cents to hold my shoes for me while I got lost in fairly land.
I walked back to the hostel feeling much better. Maybe a fairy touched me and I was released from my poisonous bad mood. Just as I was about to cross the street to my hostel I was stopped by another local. Luckily he was handsome, his English was good and my mood was lighter, because I stopped and allowed him to tell me about his business. His name is Qua and his business is Mui Ne Easy Rider. He does motorbike tours from Mui Ne to some of the more popular destinations in the surrounding areas. He was trying to talk me into a two day ride from Mui Ne to Dalat and then onto Nha Trang. I was actually genuinely interested, even though it was quite expensive. We became friends on facebook and I told him I would contact him in the next couple of days when I had more time to think about it.
I took a shower and headed out to get some lunch. I had passed an Indian restaurant the day prior and went in search of it. Apparently, I’m craving Indian food these days. I found the restaurant and ordered some food. I was sad to learn that they don’t serve naan bread before 5pm and it was 3pm. I tried not to be too disappointed, but for real, what’s Indian food without it? They did offer a sufficient replacement of something similar to pita bread, so they still get a win. Food was fantastic and I was happy. As I was about to pay and leave, that mean kind of rain started again and this time I had my computer. I couldn’t walk back in that kind of rain with it. Not to mention it was raining so hard that the street was beyond flooded. When cars drove through the street it looked like the equivalent of a speed boat flying through a harbor. I could be killed by a giant wave out there. My only option was to drink more beer and wait out the storm. Qua had invited me out that night to get a beer and at first I agreed but then when it started raining I told him I would have to take a rain check. Literally.
The next morning Qua came and picked me up and took me for coffee. I had made my decision to do the easy rider tour, despite the price, but I wanted to make some changes to the route. Over coffee we discussed some other options and decided on our adventure for the next two days. I was actually quite excited because I really wanted to explore Vietnam via motorbike and had even contemplated buying a bike and driving it from South to North, but I am too scared to do it alone. I know, I know. What a sissy. This felt like a perfect alternative, plus I liked the fact that I wouldn’t have to do anything. He took care of all the details and arrangements, all I had to do was sit on the back. Not to mention, I think I see way more when I’m the passenger because I’m not focused on the road. Complete win all around for me.
Qua, being the gem that he is, asked me if I wanted to ride with him to see the beautiful lighthouse and fishing village in Phan Thiet, which was about 30 minutes outside of town. Of course I obliged, because no one turns down a free ride. Besides, it felt like a nice bonus to cushion the amount I would be spending on our 2 day excursion. The ride out was gorgeous and there was only a small sprinkle of rain which felt great and mostly just made me giggle. We stopped at one beach on the coast with giant rock boulders that you can climb and offers some pretty awesome views. Then we stopped at the beach adjacent to the lighthouse island and took some more photos. Qua is very easy going, patient, never in a hurry, fun to talk to and knows a plethora of info about his city of Mui Ne, its surrounding areas and Vietnam in general. I had a great time cruising around with him and when he dropped me back off at the hostel I could tell it was the beginning of a wonderful friendship.
For the remainder of my final day in Mui Ne I decided it was time to finally cut my seriously nappy hair. I walked into a little shop and used some google translate skills and got myself a pretty great cut. I had no idea how bad it had gotten but the poor little lady struggling to brush it and her uncomfortable giggles let me know how over due this was. She obviously has some serious talent because she tackled those tangles and did a dry cut. I’ve never had a dry cut before and that felt strange, but my mom said that it’s much more difficult then a wet cut. So that little lady is my new hero and when I tipped her she hugged me and I almost cried because no one has hugged me like that since I was in Myanmar.
Seeing as I was in an oceanside fishing village I decided to eat seafood for lunch and dinner on my last day because why not? The freshest and tastiest seafood I have ever had. My favorites being squid and octopus grilled with spicy sauce and scallops baked in their shell with lemon, chives and cheese (my mouth is watering right now). Seriously succulent. If I had more money I would have kept eating.
My sweet tooth was screaming at me on the way back to the hostel that night. I stopped at one of the many venders that line the street at night and ordered ice cream rolls. I’ve never seen these back in the states, but I think my next business venture will be street vending this in Seattle. Even better, at music festivals in the summer. To make this delicacy they pour sweet milk onto a frozen metal base and knead and mix it with little metal spatulas, the sound of the mixing is like music to my ears. When it becomes frozen they spread it and then scrape it off the surface creating little rolls about the size of a roll of quarters. Then its topped with anything and everything you ask for. Go big, or go home. The process reminds me a bit of how Cold Stone mixes their ice cream for you with the toppings, only it’s just not as cool. Watch this video so you know what I’m talking about.
That night I washed all my clothes and got all packed and ready for my two day motorbike adventure and then called it an early night, because that’s what I do best!
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