Since Jess and I arrived in Vietnam, it had been all go. We took an overnight bus from Sihanoukville on the Tuesday, arrived at 12am the next day in Ho Chi Minh, spent the afternoon exploring and going to a sky bar then got up at 6am for a full day trip before getting on another overnight bus at 8pm the same day. We arrived in Mui Ne at 1am, absolutely exhausted. Although we’re both keen to see as much as we can in a short amount of time on our trip, we weren’t willing to kill ourselves in order to do it.
I had found that on the day trip to the Mekong I was so tired I found it difficult to appreciate what I was seeing. It was hot, I didn’t feel good and all I wanted to do was go and lie down. This is why sometimes you have to accept that not every day needs to be spent exploring – sometimes you need a break. We found the perfect place to do this in Mui Ne. After a short wander around we ended up back at our pretty decent, large hotel room taking advantage of the cable TV movie channels.
If I said to people that I went travelling and spent a day indoors watching films, they would no doubt be shocked and tell me I wasn’t making the most of things. What those people don’t realise is that when you’re travelling, sitting in bed for the day watching TV becomes a novelty that you actually miss at times. If you move around all day every day, spending hours in the sun, not only do you start to feel ill but you stop taking new things in and appreciating them for what they are. Sometimes chilling out and doing nothing for a day can be as valuable an experience as any of the amazing day trips we’ve done. You need to find the right balance. Thankfully, Jess and I were on the same page and decided to stay in Mui Ne an extra day, do the day trip to the sand dunes the day after and get the bus the day after that – leaving us with a full day of doing absolutely nothing.
So I spent a few hours indoors, soaking up the air con (Mui Ne is also one of the hottest places I’ve ever been, I guess due to being surrounded by sand dunes), catching up on online admin and watching a few films. You could say it was pretty similar to a lazy day at home. That was until I stepped outside the hotel, walked a few metres to the beach and witnessed one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen.
This was another swift reminder of how lucky I am to be here. You can have an average day and then within 5 minutes it can totally turn around when you have an experience like that.
We woke up the next morning feeling refreshed and happy we’d taken the time out, ready to go on our day trip to different coloured sand dunes. This was pretty much the only reason we came to Mui Ne and it was totally worth it.
First we walked along the river and witnessed beautiful white and orange rocks and sand. We also walked past an ostrich riding centre and were totally annoyed at ourselves afterwards for not giving it a go!
After that we saw the white sand dunes – an epic mass of sand which was surrounded by beautiful lakes.
We also witnessed some lovely landscapes on the way there in the jeep, including a fishing village. I was quickly realising how different Vietnam looks to Cambodia. It’s so much greener and full of mountains. In comparison Cambodia is very flat and there’s barely any greenery. I loved it.
While we were there we found some monkeys chained to the side of a restaurant. That always makes me really sad. I don’t understand how other cultures have such little respect for animals. One of them had a party trick – doing backflips. To which he earned himself a load of crackers and water. He then proceeded to grab Jess’ arm and pull it (I think he may have been trying to hump it) much to my amusement before he bit her. Luckily it didn’t break skin but we learnt our lesson about going to close to cheeky monkeys!
We ended the day at the orange sand dunes, which was where we witnessed a pretty disappointing sunset compared to the day before. By the end of these dunes I was absolutely exhausted – climbing sand dunes uses some serious leg power!
We were happy we visited Mui Ne although it wasn’t exactly what we had expected. We were hoping for another Sihanoukville (something I fear I will never find again!) but we found quite a high class resort full of expensive restaurants which was quite built up. It seemed to be a place where families and locals went on vacation. The beach was pretty, but it had nothing on Sihanoukville. I think that place may have ruined beaches for me forever – nowhere will ever compare. It did however, have dark blue water and pale sandy shores which were beautiful nonetheless.
I’d recommend a visit if you’re ever in Vietnam – purely for the sand dunes. I will warn you though, if you’re riding in a jeep then your hair will end up looking like this:
We left Mui Ne not quite believing the contrast of things we’d managed to see in 2 weeks. I don’t think I’ve ever fit so much into such a short amount of time before – so far we’re both pretty happy with the pace we’re travelling at and we hope it stays the same. I have 3 weeks left with Jess and who knows what other amazing things we can fit in in that amount of time!