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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sand Dunes, Mui Ne Vietnam

Jeepney Tour

Mui Ne is located in the southern region of Vietnam. It's famous for the its all natural white and red sand dunes. This is on top of our itinerary as we reached Mui Ne. 

How to get there: (book through your hotel, take the train or head down to the bus terminal )
Saigon to Mui Ne
Bus fare: 140,000 VND
Travel time: 5-6 hours

I woke up early to booked for our Sand Dunes tour. The receptionist was still rearranging their things and I was already there waiting to be served. What can I say I'm an early bird. 


Jeepney Tour 
Price: 110,000 VND
Meeting point: Mui Ne Backpacker Village 
Trip starts: 1:30pm 

I went back to the room and woke up late. What can I say?! Ahahaa We had a light breakfast in Thach Thao Cafe, a few steps away from the hostel. 
Hot Black Coffee: 16,000 VND
Lemon Juice: 20,000 VND
Bread and Omelette with Beef: 35,000 VND
Garlic Bread: 30,000 VND

Vacation Checklist: 
- VND Dong Bills 
- Hat
- SLIPPERS
- Water  
- Sunscreen
- Camera

An old American Jeepney picked us from the hostel, 8 of us participated in this tour. Our first stop was the Fairy Stream, where you we had approximately 45 minutes to explore the stream and visit the small waterfall at the end of it. The driver simply drove us to the tourist spot and waited for us at the front road. 

The web stated that there might be a few young local people who may present themselves as tour guides. This is merely their way of getting some guide fee from you. They were not available when we got there. I really don't mind, it's a great way of knowing more about Vietnam.  The road to the fairy stream is quite easy, less than 10 minutes away from the main road, just follow the signs and you'll find it. When we found the start point for the stream everyone hesitated to remove their shoes and slippers. Nobody knew this was part of the itinerary so some of us wore snickers. Great thing my mum and I just had slippers on and her cotton pants were garterized in the ends. The river was clean and soft due to the sand. We passed by Bamboo trees, magnificent rock formations and the famous white sand dunes landscape. I was amused how the sand dunes looked, it was pure white and you could never guess if there's a beach on the other side of that hill. 

No one knew when to stop walking or which way to go. It was difficult to climb, each step I made bore a big hole in the sand. The more I tried hard to climb the more I sank in the sand. One technique that will help you get up there is to run as fast as you can and if you sink hard pull yourself with your hand and don't stop running. It's really not that hard everyone made it on top for those who tried of course while others went the different way and retreated back. The Vietnamese teens ahead of us was the one who showed us how to do it. I've even planned to follow the other guys who wanted a simple path but when I turned around my mum was almost halfway on top Ahahaa. I love my mum! So immediately I ran after. The other side had more obstacles, the sand was getting hotter by the minute and I have to stamp my feet a few times to cool it off. We didn't get to the waterfall, the last trail leads to two parallel coconut trunks that serve as a bridge to the other side. When we managed not to fall on the planks a small hut serves drinks on that side, we didn't go further than that. We had gone exploring more than 40 minutes and had to get back to the jeepney. 

Our vehicle drove for 15 minutes or so to our next stop which is Mui Ne's Fishing Village. The driver gave us less than 10 minutes to take picture and that's it. I really love this place I even wanted to go down there and see how was the catch of the day. This is what I hate about tours but then on the brighter side we were in a hurry to watch the highlight of the day. The white sand dunes is a bit far from the fishing village maybe an hour or more so getting back on the road is a great idea. Besides I went to Mui Ne for this magnificent landscape so I let it pass. 



The beautiful coastline greeted everyone a good afternoon, soon we drove in a rocky road with dust that hovers the whole vehicle. A great sign that we were almost to our destination. When we arrived in the White Sand Dunes the tourist were all over the place yet it wasn't that hard to take pictures. It was an expansive, spectacular piece of land and there's pretty much space for everyone to enjoy. The sand was really fine, white and soft to touch. It felt like I was walking along the white, pristine sand beach of Philippines. They said in desserts you can actually find shells and all sort of ocean related things. It could be true that maybe a thousand years ago, the dessert was our ocean and due to climate changes it has shifted or dried up. We were allowed to enjoy the white sand dunes for 45 minutes to an hour, activities like sand boarding for 50,000 VND and Quad Bike for 300,000 VND was available. Make sure to check the bike's condition before hopping in and paying the amount. The stop over point offers drinks too , I just had a bottled water for 10,000 VND. Keep yourself hydrated it can be very hot in the sand dunes around the afternoon. 

We sat down for a few minutes and my mum took a photo and video of me running up and down the slope of the sand dunes. It was basically her idea, i love my mum! and I also took a shot of her with the same craziness of just running up and down the sand dunes. It looked pretty easy but I tell you it needs a good packed of energy to be climbing up that slope down there. After that we went back in the jeepney and stop for a romantic sunset at the Red Sand Dunes, if weather permitting - that late afternoon the weather condition was fantastic. We calmly sat in the red sand while waiting for the sun to set in the west. It was magically beautiful and its nothing compared from what I've seen in the past. I usually watched the sunset in the beach and the reflection of the light in the water is mesmerizing. However, in the Red Sand Dunes the sunset looked brighter and prominent due to the red sand. The sun waived goodbye and the driver sent us back to our hostels. 

(Please note that there is an entrance fee of 10.000 VND to the White Sand Dunes and that it is not included in the price of your ticket. The jeep drivers are not your tour guides and most of them have a very limited knowledge of the English language. - that info is according to the brochure.) However, they never asked for any entrance fee from us, except at the Fairy Stream when this young guy ask for an entry fee and we decline to give any amount. I think its already included in the package, so be mindful when people ask for any additional money from you guys.





For our dinner we had a feast at Sankara Light, still a walking distance across the road from Mui Ne Backpacker Village.


Sauteed noodle soup beef: 65,000 VND
Vegetable fried rice: 45,000 VND
Grilled squid with five spice: 90,000 VND
Watermelon Juice: 35,000 VND
Lemon Juice: 35,000 VND
I went back to our hostel still thinking about the sand dunes. It was a captivating experience for me its like a whole body of the ocean without water - that still freaking amazes me. 



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