I almost skipped Mui Ne entirely as I plan to visit the sand dunes in Peru later on in my travels and there isn’t much else on offer in MN – considering my experience of Mui Ne was a dodgy one right from the outset, part of me thinks I should have just listened to my original instincts.
I met a couple of Canadian girls – Madison and Erin – in my Dalat hostel and they were heading to MN on the same day as me so we all booked on the 12:30pm bus for 115,000 dong (£4.70) each. We were picked up in a bus from our hostel and taken to an agency, where we then waited a whole hour for our bus to arrive. When we eventually got on it the air con was broken and the bus was nearly full so Madison and Erin took the back seats and I squeeze in by the window next to an Asian guy. About an hour into our journey we pulled over so they could try to fix the air con – the driver opened a compartment next to him, fiddled with something, and gasoline exploded, spraying over everyone in the front seats. In typical Vietnamese style, the driver kept on going despite the damage. After about half an hour, once we had hit the winding mountains,the bus began to fill with smoke. Rather than pull over and stop, they opened the doors but continued driving. Nothing was being communicated and I was beginning to get agitated. The bus was creaking and stuttering, and eventually the driver couldn’t go above 15mph. I had a moment where I actually believed I was going to die from a shitty old bus and became quite angry that we were continuing and nothing was being said to us, getting quite vocal in the process. 2 hours into our journey and the bus finally pulls over at a rest stop in the mountains, and refuses to start up again. So we’re stranded, in the pouring ran, for 3 hours at an overpriced cafe, waiting fir a rescue bus to arrive. At 6:30 we finally continue our journey into MN in a minivan, arriving at our hostel (Mui Ne Backpackers Village) at 9pm instead of the scheduled 5pm.
Thankfully the dorm rooms were clean and air-conditioned and the beds comfy so I got a good sleep before waking up and heading to the pool at the hostel for a few hours. Then, at 1pm, it was time to be picked up for our sand dunes tour (which cost 110,000 dong each, or £4). We were collected in jeeps and first driven to Fairy Springs. I don’t know how to describe it other than a stream that is on sand, stretching towards a spring at the end, which you walk along, passing marble rock on the way. The water was shallow and warm and the sun ridiculously hot, but it was a peaceful walk there and back (totalling about one hour).
Next we were driven to the fisherman beach, which was sadly quite ruined and dirty due to tourism. It was unfortunately quite forgettable. But the we were drive to the white sand dunes, for which we had to pay 10,000 dong each (35p) to enter and where you can hire quad bikes to get around at 300,000 dong for 20 minutes. Our group decided against it, instead opting to walk the dunes and take in the scenery that way – it was enjoyable and also offered a sense of achievement! Clouds had started to form by this point – good for us bearing the heat but not so great for pictorial views – but it was absolutely amazing being surrounded by all the clear sand when all you do is turn your head to the side and see a city. Crazy.
After the White dunes we were driven to the red – maybe it’s because they’re free to enter and right on the side of the road, but these seemed dirtier, less spectacular and far more touristy (and therefore more spoilt). Plus we had been sold a sunset at the red dunes but we didn’t stay long enough (and it was cloudy anyway) – it was nice, but definitely not on the same league as the White dunes.
We were driven back to the hostel and then a group of us went to the Mexican next door to celebrate Madison’s birthday. The food was nice and I had a few cocktails, but once back at the hostel I felt really queasy so took myself to bed early to then spend the night throwing up acid – it seems that, 2 days later, I wasn’t over my big night in Dalat and had somehow re-ignited the alcohol poisoning. Plus, after parting ways two weeks previously, Jason and I were staying in the same hostel at the same time and therefore crossed paths again, which comes with various emotions in itself.
All in all Mui Ne wasn’t my favourite experience and I wasn’t exactly gutted to be leaving for Ho Chi Minh City the next day – lots of praying for a smooth and enjoyable time at my final stop in Vietnam.