Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mui Ne, Vietnam: Sand Dunes in Southeast Asia

I recognize that I posted a blog only yesterday, but the wireless internet happens to be quite reliable here at "Tony's Place" in Ayutthaya, Thailand. Too reliable, in fact, to pass on the opportunity to write another quick post. However, it's merely going to be a sort of "photo blog," as I'll just be mentioning our brief stint in a Vietnamese coastal town known as Mui Ne. I don't really post photos on Facebook anymore, largely due to the fact that Bri is excellent at keeping up to date with that, so this is as good an opportunity as any to post a few.

Firstly, however, I'd like to mention how we arrived in Mui Ne. It takes an exorbitant amount of time to travel through Vietnam, so we found ourselves on a sleeper bus to Nha Trang (which isn't too far from Mui Ne). The bus was supposed to take 12-13 hours to arrive in Nha Trang, but ended up taking a little longer (largely due to the fact that the bus broke down for an hour around 3 in the morning). Being tall was a strict disadvantage on this packed bus, and my legs took a toll on the long, long journey. Luckily, Bri and I snagged two spots near the front, but the back was apparently a miserably hot, packed mess. One tall German fellow left the back, came up to the front, and demanded to be let out at the next city with a hotel. Any city with a hotel. He turned to me with his thick German accent and said, "My god, eet is hot back zaire. I wouldn't put my fecking chickens back zaire. It eez a fucking cheekin coop." He left shortly afterwards with an a sigh of immense relief. In my opinion, it's all part of the experience here in Southeast Asia. You can't expect to magically teleport from destination to destination, so find a good book, and make the best of it. Usually, I actually find the transportation bit enjoyable, as it gives a break in the action to reflect on what you've just seen in the previous destination.

A chicken coop on wheels?
Making the best of a (relatively decent) bad situation

Anyway, we came to Mui Ne to see the sand dunes. This is largely because we had no idea they existed until we arrived in Hanoi and heard about them from some people we met. It seemed too strange, too bizarre to not make an attempt to get there. So that's exactly what we did. Mui Ne is also known for its beach and tourist hub, but as I mentioned, that wasn't our reason for being there, as we'll see plenty of that on our travels elsewhere. I'm not going to give you an explanation of how sand dunes are formed, etc... I'm simply going to post photos of our visit to the red and white sand dunes, which was entirely worth the detour on the way to Saigon. I believe I've already exceeded my text limit for this to be defined as a photo blog, so I'll get on with the show.

The red sand dunes are located closer to the actual town of Mui Ne, and are lesser known, but not necessarily less impressive. Actually, they are less impressive than the white sand dunes, but they're still fascinating. Either way, I'd have to say that any sand dunes in Southeast Asia are impressive. Honestly, I would expect to see this in the Middle East, but not in Vietnam.




I should mention that, as with Hue, we decided to rent a scooter for the day. Thus, right after our visit to the red sand dunes I revved the engine (which sounded like a golf-cart on steroids) and off we went to the white sand dunes. The road conditions were less then favourable, but so much more exciting. The scooter wasn't meant to go off-roading, but that's exactly where we took it. 



The white sand dunes were much larger, more photogenic, and happened to be accented with several sizable lakes. These dunes were the real deal. These sand dunes were the reason we made the trek to get to minuscule Mui Ne, and what a wonderful reason it was. 



So there you have it. That's precisely what sand dunes in Southeast Asia look like. I was made aware of their existence only several weeks ago, and I'm still astonished by them, or more generally their existence.
I now have irrefutable proof that Vietnam has sand dunes, and they're pretty good looking proof if you ask me (although I'm decidedly bias). A night train to Chiang Mai beckons me, so I best be going. I've got high hopes for big destinations like Chiang Mai, but apparently I can be equally persuaded by the Mui Ne's of the world. It's those places that provide the best stories, or photo blogs as it may be.

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