Monday, September 3, 2012

18 Hours in Mui Ne: Sand Stories



I’ve read and heard lots of so-so feedback about Vietnam. I’ve been researching what else to do - the Halong Bay tour had mixed feedback. I found the answer in the Vietnam forum in Pinoyexchange. I Googled “sand dunes in Mui Ne” and the pictures immediately convinced me to include it in the Indochina itinerary. The catch: Mui Ne is a 5-hour bus ride away from HCMC. Not that near. But too see a real desert and real sand dunes in real life? Sold! 

How to go to Mui Ne: We asked our hotel to arrange the bus trip tickets going to Mui Ne. We got the 8:30am bus going to Mui Ne. The tickets cost $6 each, air-conditioned bus, reserved seat, free water. The bus drops you off in front of your resort in Mui Ne.
Comfy enough
 
On the morning of our departure, the hotel informed us that the bus was already there. The bus assistant picked up the passengers from the hotel and directs them to the bus parked at Pham Ngu Lao street. The bus made some other few stops before it blasted into full speed in the highway.There was a brief stopover after two hours – to ease your bladder and get some food. It was an opportunity to try the Bami: a French-like baguette with mixed meat and veggies inside.

Try one at VND 20,000 each. The other stall costs VND 25,000

When the bus reached Mui Ne, a bus conductor will ask each passenger where he is staying and drops them of in front of the place. We arrived at our home for the night and enjoyed the aircon for a bit. 

Our home for 18 hours

I arranged a motorcycle tour guide to take us around that afternoon - $15 each person (that makes him a cool profit of $30 for both of us in just one afternoon). I got good reviews about him around the Internet and I constantly confirmed our tour date via emails – he always replied back. He asked me to call him first before we proceed with the tour. He says a lot of his clients don’t come on the arranged day so his time is wasted. That was fin; BUT I could not contact his number on the day of the tour. Oh well. Good thing our hostel offered these group tours in the sand dunes via jeep... at $8 each! Cheaper!



Our first stop was the fairy stream. Our jeep driver said we have an hour to look around. One fish sauce storage and five minutes of walking later, we arrived in the “fairy stream”.

Ankle deep waters here

It is called the fairy stream I guess because it...looks whimsical...sometimes? You will be walking in the shallow waters (ankle-deep) so you have to take off your footwear. You can leave your shoes/slippers for a fee. We decided to carry ours.

A bunch of local kids followed us around. They volunteered to take our pics and show us stuff around and I kned they’d be expecting some tip after - like what happens here in the Philippines. We let them follow us around and take our pics.


One of the kids gave me a four-leaf clover. My first time to see one!

Good thing we slapped ourselves with sunblock. We got tanned. My camera was in vivid colors setting in these photos.
Orange soil. Orange tan.

Trying out some Wushu poses here.

 The kids said there are waterfalls at the end – the end is after another one hour of walking. “Same, same”, they said. So we turned around and made our way back.



  Up the orange hill now.

The purple camera case in the orange sand
More crazy team shots

Blue sky + orange sand = great photo

After lots of steps in the steam, the kids asked for money directly, politely. Because of our kind hearts and soul, and because their spiel worked, we gave each kid VND 75,000. I knew I read somewhere that kids here do this: they use guilt. They said they need money for school, and it costs more to be in school rather than hang out in the stream, something to that effect. Anyway, it worked. On the very bright side, we got loads of pictures.

It was a short drive going to the fishing village.

 
We drove for an hour going to the white sand dunes.

Hello cattle, excuse us.

View from the jeep. The sand dunes are peeking out at the back.

We finally arrived in our destination: the white sand dunes. It was AAAAAH-MA-ZEEEEENG!!!

First time to see something like this.

Massive sand dunes everywhere. No map for this one. You'll just have to remember where you should go back.

We had a blast camwhoring in these sands.

Trying out that sled ride. The sleds were for rent at VND 100,000 each. We really weren't able to utilize it. We weren't sliding down fast enough.



Beautiful clear skies

Shadow shots

Footprints in the sand

 Lilies and the lake.

 Goodbye Mui Ne.
The parting shot. Photo credit to Sarah.
The tour includes a stop in the Red Sand Dunes. But it was already dark when we reached it so we weren't able to see if the sand was really red. Anyway, the white sand dunes thrilled me a lot already. Mui Ne did not disappoint.

I learned that sand is salty. :P

Things to bring/wear in the Mui Ne Sand Dunes tour:
  • Sunglasses! The sun will make you super squint. It also protects you from getting the sand in your eyes.
  • Slap sunblock all over. Don’t forget to slap them in your toes and ears.
  • Wear comfy breathable clothes. You will be sweating under the sun for a couple of hours. It would be nice to wear autumn shades of clothes – it will make you pop in the pics but it will let you blend as well.
  • Wear removable shoes or slippers. Something that you can put in your bag.
  • Bring a light bag. What’s inside: water, sarong, camera, emergency stash of food

9 comments:

  1. Stunning photos! I'm going to HCMC next month and I will definitely consider going here! :)

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  2. Kainggit. I wasn't able to do this last time! Photos are so nice, different from the usual photos I see of Mui Ne! :D I think dapat naka-IV drip na yung sunscreen sayo diyan!
    Oh and love love love vivid camera settings! :D

    ReplyDelete
  3. @Benj: Do make time to visit Mui Ne! Super unique place. Never seen anything like it!

    @Eileen: LOL@IV drip. Super slap ng sunblock sa skin!
    Vivid setting dapat talaga! Else the colors are quite tame lang.

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  4. Hi amazing photos! We're actually planning to go to Mui Ne next week. Do you remember by chance the name of the Jeep tour you booked? It's a little difficult to look for a safe & cheap tour by internet.

    Thanks in advance!

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  5. Hi Pau! You will have a blast in Mui Ne!
    I just availed of the jeep tour in hour hostel. The tour begins at 2pm and we just paid and hopped in with no advanced tour bookings. Not sure if all places offer that.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi!

    Guess what, I just got back from Vietnam and I went to Mui Ne. It was spectacular! Im very interested in going through a lot more cities for the next trip. I'll post photos soon. I first saw Mui Ne through your blog. I wouldnt have considered it had I not seen this from PEX! LOL. Good thing. i would've died of boredom/ a hit-and-run in Saigon. HAha

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  7. Hey Benj! Glad that you enjoyed your Vietnam trip. Mui Ne gave me really spectacular photos too. I also learned about Mui Ne in PEX - probably pages and pages back pa. Cheers to PEX! Saigon was interesting food-wise. You can include Nha Trang and other Vietnam cities in your next trip. I plan to do that someday as well.

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  8. Hahahaha laughed so hard cause I learned about Mui Ne also from PEX! Nice photos!

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  9. I will include this on our Indochina itinerary! Thanks!!!

    ReplyDelete

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