Our first bus ride, from Ho Chi Minh to Mui Ne, was quite an experience. The bus was like no other I have ever seen. The chairs nearly fully reclined to form beds (very useful when you are completely knackered from an amazing few days in Ho Chi Minh!). Although a bumpy trip, I stuck my earphones in and soaked up the amazing scenes as we traveled north. The long, chalky roads were dotted with intriguing markets and small family homes. Thin chickens and ramshackle outside cooking stoves filled the roadside with life and coated the air with scents of beef pho and coriander.
When we finally arrived in Mui Ne it was a short walk to the Backpackers Resort – a gorgeous, affordable hostel where we booked into a private room (all the communal dorms were taken, but we weren’t complaining!). This stop was set to be one of practical luxury. We spent the afternoon and evening watching the ocean from our lounge chairs and filling up on noodles.
The following day began with a very welcome (but ever-so-western) breakfast of banana pancakes and vanilla lattes. Yummy doesn’t even begin to describe them. By 10am we were on a tiny local bus travelling to the Cham Towers, beautiful ruins of temples. This was a hilarious experience. We were packed into the bus with many local people going about their business – they gave us both very curious looks. I have a feeling most tourists don’t opt for this mode of transport! I was practically sitting on the bus drivers lap, trying not to burn my bum on the burning metal ledge I was perched on. We swayed around the road (and bus) attempting not to land on anyone. Personal space became a thing of history. The very amused Vietnamese passengers generously helped us to navigate our way to the towers. One old lady found the whole sight particularly tickling. We can only hope she was laughing with us…not just at us! When we arrived the morning heat was blistering and the sights were breathtaking. Inside each tower there was a decadent waft of warm incense and a collection of gifts left as donations to the Gods. It was a spiritual, fascinating and peaceful place.
Later that afternoon we treated ourselves to a mud spa; it was a dream. We had a private tub in a beautiful setting surrounded by palm trees. This indulgence definitely eased and replenished our achy muscles. Mui Ne – you were my little, mini slice of heaven and an incredible pit stop before our next destination.
Having booked to see the “Fairy Springs” and famous white and red sand dunes, we hopped on the back of a jeep and held on for dear life as it sped down a dusty, bumpy road. Although, I must admit, these tours were a bit of a disappointment, the scenery was nonetheless lovely and worth seeing. It felt a little bit as though this tour was a hype created by locals as a tourist money-making scheme – but who could blame them!
Unfortunately, the relaxation of Mui Ne was not destined to last. We were swiftly turfed out of our hostel after being told they had booked out our room to other guests. Frantically we found another hostel and dumped our bags down for just one night.
Nevertheless, the Mui Ne visit ended on a high as we enjoyed iced drinks at an outdoor bar with live music – pretty nice way to end a blissful stop in this coastal retreat.