January 13, 2009


Journal Excerpt - November 21st
Mui Ne, Vietnam
-Fill 'er up. Our rental bike.-

What a great day! When we woke up in the morning we rented a scooter. The hotel was not keen on the idea because the police have been cracking down on ‘illegal’ driving in the last month. This morning they had actually set up a road block about a mile down from the hotel. Apparently, if a foreigner gets caught driving it’s upwards of a 500,000 Dong fine ($30) and they impound the scooter for 37 days. Personally I was vying for an alternative option to illegal bike renting but Trev had his heart set. To get around the road block the hotel dropped us off just down the road (beyond the check stop) and we started off towards the local village. We made a short stop up on the cliffs to admire the hundreds of boats below and the amazing view of the fishing village, beautiful beach and vast expanse of sea.

-Locust on the road... waiting for our hotel to rescue us.-

-Posing with the beautiful scarlet sand.-

We continued on towards the white sand dunes (26Km out of town) stopping only to pick up some water and top up the gas tank. After passing through the red sand dunes, by some run-down resorts and along some unexplored coastline, we felt the bike struggle and the rear time started to ‘jump’… we had a flat, in the middle of the desert, in the middle of nowhere and in a country in which we can’t even say hello let alone, we have a flat tire, no cell phone and don’t know what to do. Luckily, there was a kind Canadian and two Vietnamese guys who stopped to see what all the commotion was about; together we managed to get our bike to the nearest shop, 2 km away. It was then that the real trouble started. The two men called our hotel and informed them of the situation. They then demanded 50,000 Dong for the two local cell calls they made for us (half the price we paid to have the bike for the entire day). Ridiculous. We told them we’d only give them 10,000 (at the most). And after an hour of them screaming, laughing at and ridiculing us, they left with our 10,000 Dong. I was feeling beaten by this point, and sitting in a small chair, under a hot tin roof in the desert waiting with locals who were talking about us and laughing at us, for a ride that was not coming was frustrating. Then a vehicle pulled up asking the locals for directions. I noticed a foreigner sitting in the passenger’s seat and so I asked them for help. They, unlike the others we’d been surrounded by, were more than willing to help. She called the hotel and explained to them the situation, where we were and arranged for them to pick us up. When they left, they refused payment for the use of their phone and told us that somehow we’d ended in the “biggest den of a**holes in Vietnam”. Our hotel arrived 20 minutes later and swapped bikes with us. We were more than happy to continue our journey. We found the white sand dunes, no problem. They were just what sand dunes should be: Tall, bleached white, deserted and hot. We enjoyed wandering around for a while. We jumped back on our bike, heading back to town, to explore the red dunes as the sun was setting.

-The magnificent white sand dunes.-

-Trev taking a stroll. White sand dunes.-

-Just playing.-

-The inevitable emptying of shoes.-

Here, we had a great time chilling with some kids that were trying to rent us sleds so we could ride them down the dunes. A tempting offer but we already seemed to have more than enough sand in our shorts for one day. We returned to the hotel safe and sound and only 10,000 Dong more ripped off then when we left. No too bad.

-One of our little guides at the red sand dunes.-

-A bug our other little guide found for us. Amazing!-

-White sand.-

-Our guides showing us how it's done on their 'crazy carpets'.-

-Desert flowers.-

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