Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mui Ne - Not Much To Write Back Home About

Despite our booked hotel's recommendation of a particular bus company, Jenni and I settled for a bus ticket to Mui Ne with a different company that was sold to us from our hotel in Da Lat. The bus that arrived to pick us up was considerably smaller than the tourist buses that we have been catching throughout Vietnam, not even having space allocated for luggage (well the space allocated was the front couple of seats in the bus). Usually the way that the long distance buses work here in Vietnam is that all of the passengers are usually picked up in mini-vans and all taken to a central location where they all pile into the single big bus that will take you to the final destination. Instead of filling the bus via this method, this dodgy little bus instead drove around Da Lat in circles for nearly one and a half hours, picking up everybody individually. The bus driver must have been picking people up in a nonsensical order (such as alphabetical order, order of date of birth, grouped by favourite ice-cream flavours, etc etc) rather than geographical order, as we drove back and forth through the same areas of Da Lat several times before the bus was actually full and ready to set of in the direction of Mui Ne. People were not the only thing being transported by this bus, as the bus driver was also picking up bags full of fruits, vegetables and other various goods that we assume were intended to be sold or used in Mui Ne.

The first half of the journey to Mui Ne was rather spectacular as it was mostly spent driving down the mountains from Da Lat to lower ground. Our journey in the bus became rather harrowing as we reached the halfway point in the journey where the bus made the final descent down one of the mountains into a valley where we were to stop for lunch. The mountain's face that the bus was driving down was extremely steep and the road had to snake back and forth about 20 times to get from the top to the bottom. At each U-turn, many without barriers to stop cars flying off the side, we could peer out the window, all the way down to the bottom of the deep valley. Upon reaching the bottom and stopping for lunch, we were surprised to find out that even though the bus was now travelling on mostly flat ground, the last half of the bus trip to Mui Ne was not to get any less hair raising. The heavens had opened and the road on which we were driving had deteriorated badly. I do not think that any of the roads in this area of Vietnam have had their bitumen laid over a properly flattened and compacted foundation. The last couple of hours spent in the bus were travelling at no more than an average speed of about 15 kms per hour, trying to avoid the rain water filled, 1 foot deep, 2 metre wide pot holes in the road. Some sections of the road had been completely up rooted, large pieces of the road lying at odd angles with each other due to the soil collapsing underneath the bitumen. At times the bus felt that it was about to tip over as a front wheel entered into a deep pot hole.

To our relief, we arrived in Mui Ne, safe and sound in the early evening. Mui Ne is essentially a single stretch of road along the beach with hotel beach resorts, side by side along the whole road. Jenni and I stayed at one of the mid-range hotels that was right on the beach and had a swimming pool. Considering its location and facilities, it was a bargain at only about $40 AUD per night.

We only stayed in Mui Ne for 2 nights (to allow ourselves 1 whole day to enjoy ourselves at the beach). There isn't that much to report back about I'm afraid. All we really did for the entire day was take a few swims in the ocean and pool, while in between, lazing around on a couple of deck chairs that were setup on the grass next to the hotel pool that overlooked the beach. It was great!

The one thing I do regret about Mui Ne is not organizing a kite surfing lesson while we were there. The beach in Phan Theit where we stayed had perfect conditions for wind surfing and kite surfing and there were stacks of people kite surfing along the entire stretch of beach from early morning, all the way into the late afternoon. If we ever return to Mui Ne in the future, I will do one for sure.

The following day we had to check out of our room early, so we could catch our bus to Saigon. Even though this journey took the same amount of time as the bus trip to Mui Ne, it seemed to breeze by as we could relax and not have to spend the entire trip fearing for our well being!  

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