Motorbike Tour of Mui Ne: Fairy Stream, Waterfall & Red Sand Dunes - Fishing Village - Bau Trang White Sand Dunes - Yellow Sand Dunes - Dinner at Bamboo Bamboo Restaurant
02.08.2011 - 11.08.2011 92 °F
Aug. 6 Mui Ne – Day 3
Aug. 6 Helpful Travel Notes:
Booking a Tour: Mui Ne Motorbike Tour to Fairy Stream, Fishing Village & Red/White/Yellow Sand Dunes - $10 USD/200,000 VND - Book through a tour or travel agent on Nguyen Dinh Chieu
Motorbike Tour of Mui Ne: Fairy Stream, Waterfall & Red Sand Dunes, Fishing Village, Bau Trang White Sand Dunes, and Yellow “Sliding” Sand Dunes – Dinner at Bamboo Bamboo Restaurant
Link to a Blog which describes the Sand Dune Tour experience well (you can ignore the part about the animal dung, Thank Goodness!) and has fabulous photos - http://konglishadventures.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/mui-ne-dunes/
Our guides pick up Jigga, Serene & me at our Hotel. We set off on our motorbikes through the little town of Mui Ne, hugging the coastline. Seeing the different facets of the town from just our “local/within walking distance” scenery is cool. There are many more hotels, resorts, stopover restaurants and storefronts than I’ve imagined.
After a 10-minute cruise, we hop off the motorbikes (think 200-300cc moped – these things make a Vespa look like a Harley) at the entrance to Fairy Stream. The entrance is littered with tourist trap stores, so we breeze by all the kitschy stuff and begin our march down to the stream. The 4-minute walk to the Stream is interesting, to say the least! We pass wild chickens & their chicks, stray dogs, tiny farms, and a particularly odiferous fish sauce fermenting field. Fish sauce is a staple in most SE Asian cooking – Vietnam is no exception. We can definitely smell, then see the giant round fermenting cauldrons loaded with fish soaking in salt baking in the sun. Whew! Nose plugs woulda been handy at this juncture!
Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings comes to mind as we enter the Fairy Stream. Maybe it’s the name, “Fairy Stream” that makes me feel as if something magical will transpire the moment we step into the tawny water. It’s not dirty or brackish – just brown from all the yellow sand and brown dirt being stirred up by the gentle current. It’s surprisingly warm water – 80+ degrees, and its shallow waters are calming as we stroll upstream following our guide’s steps.
We are soon greeted warmly by young local boys who offer their assistance in navigating the “treacherous” path up the stream. I call them “mini touts”, since they are expecting money after their guidance. I kindly assure them I already have a guide and thusly will not be paying them, yet one named Thee (“Tee”) stays with us. I think he simply enjoys playing with Essie as we wade. He warns, “Deep side,” (or is it “Thees side”?! I can’t really decipher which) and points along the way whenever he perceives a difficult patch of water/rocks. Too cute.
We wade upstream along the red sand dunes, pausing to marvel at the terra cotta splash of colour contrasting the monolithic alabaster rock formations dappling the valley. Taking in this scenery, I marvel, “Alright…this is worth every step it takes to get here.” We pause at the mucky, suctioning red sand along the stream. The patch we choose has an element of quicksand in it, so I dip my feet into it and sink, sucking out my feet alternately and giggling. It feels cool in a Kindergartner-loves-to-moosh-Play-Doh-in-her-fingers kinda way. : )
After a 20-25-minute trek upstream, we reach our destination: the waterfall. Teenage guys lie around, dunking each other in the misty falls. The waterfall, too, is worth the hike – simply gorgeous! After snapping photos, we follow the twisting, turning stream back to our origin, and walk out, passing two ostriches, saddled like horses for “ostrich rides”. Poor animals. We politely decline our guide’s offer to ride the flightless birds, and hike back to our motorbikes. Our journey continues down the paved road toward Bau Trang, the white sand dunes near Mui Ne.
Along the way to Bau Trang, we pause at a vista along the ocean. We’re looking down upon a fishing village – replete with “coconut” boats, long, canoe-like fishing boats, and fisherpeople (men and women!) hauling in fresh fish. What a spectacle! These are some of my fondest memories of our time in Vietnam thus far.
Hopping back onto our road trip, we motor 20 minutes down the road to Bau Trang, the white sand dunes. I am pooped out from holding Essie the entire journey, and forego the hike up the steep dunes. Instead, Serene & I enjoy a respite in a fabric hammock under a covered patio. As I lie lazily in my cloth nap-zone, I chortle quietly at all of the tourists forking over 20,000 dong/minute to ride Quad bikes up and around the dunes. I find that to be extortion, even by American standards! To each her/his own, I suppose. There are also small children renting small, blue plastic toboggans to tourists to use for a slide down the dunes. For an additional 20,000 dong, the kids teach you how to ride the slide. Miniature Venturing Capitalists in a Socialist country! Now, how ‘bout that?!
We mount our bikes as the blazing sun begins its descent from high in the sky. Our goal is to enjoy sunset atop the yellow sand dunes, which are closest to our hotel in Mui Ne. We make it just in time to hike to the top of our favourite vista atop the highest dune. We slide, run and roll down the dunes and snap photos. If you check out the Blog I mention at the beginning of this post, you’ll see amazing photos of these dunes there, which appropriately represent what’s to be seen. Mine are nowhere near as cool as theirs. I think the scenery at the yellow sand dunes is my favourite of all the sights today. I admit, however: the combination of sheer exhaustion after hiking all day and my penchant for enjoying a good sunset heavily influence this statement. No question – this was most certainly a divine sunset!
During the motorbike journey back to our hotel, a pelting rain ensues. I am unabashedly donning my sunglasses while being pummeled by Lemonhead-sized dollops; I’m equally thankful to have brought Ergo carrier so I may shield Essie, who sleeps the entire way home. She’s becoming a great little traveler, just like her big sister! Baptism by Fire, I suppose.
Even though we are tired, you know I’m a Foodie in my heart of hearts. I can’t bear the thought of not squeezing one last divine Southern Vietnamese dinner before Es & I depart for Hoi An tomorrow. Jigga & I choose Bamboo Bamboo – just catty-corner from our hotel. While I savour sautéed mixed seasonal veggies and shrimp fried with chili and lemongrass, Miss Es devours pesto tossed with spaghetti. Pesto pasta’s her fave dish, and I am pleasantly surprised to say this one is authentic! Some of the best pesto I’ve ever had, in fact! Fresh, fresh, fresh. Yum! Fun side note: the owners have a small black kitten sporting the moniker “Black Kitty” leashed (yes, a cat leashed…) to a door near the hostess stand. Essie had a ball playing with the kitten, who adored her. Great pics.
With full bellies and just a short jaunt home, we all enjoy an early bedtime – it was quite an active day! Tomorrow we have the morning to enjoy breakfast, beach time, and a little lunch. At 2pm, we depart via taxi from Mui Ne to Muang Mang Train Station $ 17 USD | 350,000 VND, about 45 minutes, and catch an overnight train to Da Nang, Vietnam. From Da Nang, we will take a taxi to Hoi An, Vietnam. We hear wonderful things about Hoi An – can’t wait!
Aug. 6 Places/Things to Do:
Motorbike Tour around Mui Ne Fairy Stream/Red Sand Dunes, White & Yellow Sand Dunes – ~$10 USD/200,000 VND + gratuity for Guide. Book through any tour or travel agent on [i]Nguyen Dinh Chieu.
Bamboo Bamboo Restaurant – 131 Nguyen Dinh Chieu | Phan Thiet City | Binh Thuan Pro | Mui Ne, Vietnam