Wizard sticks, Karaoke, Sand dunes and the coconut trail
04.10.2010 35 °C
We pulled up outside a hotel in the afternoon and went in to see if they had any rooms available, they didn’t, we weren’t too bothered as we had passed loads of hotels, guesthouses and resorts on the drive down the one road of this town so we picked up our bags and went to the next place that looked half decent again it was full. This was the first time we had been turned away by two consecutive places and so we went to the next place down the road but again it was full, this was starting to get weird so we went back to the first hotel that also acted as the towns bus terminal and dropped our bags in the storage room and headed off down the road unburdened by our luggage. Now the three of us, Kris, Jo and I, started to leap frog down the road visiting every form of accommodation the town had to offer and were repeatedly turned away and even removed by security in one case. We spent almost an hour going up and down both sides of the street and were about to give up when we saw a sign outside of a small open fronted building, a sign reading “backpackers welcome. Dorm rooms available”. We were saved. Inside we ran into an Aussie guy, the owner, and after a quick G’day but before he could say anything else we jumped straight to the point and asked that his sign was right and he had space, he did and before seeing the rooms or asking the price we said we would take it.
The owner of place said to calm down, he had quite a few spaces so we should look at what rooms he had available. He showed us his dorms but he only had 3 beds going and as Marc was coming later, on the bus behind us we wouldn’t all fit he did have two double rooms but after finding out the price they were well out of our price range finally he showed us a double room with A/C, bathroom and space on the floor for a mattress and between us would have been only a dollar difference in price than the Dorm so we took it reserved Marc a bed in the dorm and went to collect our bags. As we collected our bags we left a picture of marc at the front desk with a message of where to go. After our ordeal of almost not having accommodation we went to speak to the owner to find out why the place was so busy as we hadn’t seen anything like this all through Vietnam and other countries we had visited except for myself in China during Chinese new year. It turns out it was a long weekend for the Vietnamese and everyone in Saigon and surrounding cities/towns came to Mui Ne for it this meant everything was twice its normal price if not more everything was booked up and it was really busy just like Brighton, Bournemouth, Southampton etc in the UK on bank holidays or when the sun comes out! This also meant travel was ridiculously expensive even with out open tickets and there was no guarantee we would find somewhere to stay, if we could book a ticket out of town, when we got to Saigon. Resulting in us deciding to just crash out here and do what we do best chill out and drink.
We decided once Marc had arrived to stay for a couple of days after the long weekend, that day being Friday, or until we got bored and couldn’t find anything else to do, along with Marc needing to fly out from Saigon in about a week it made sense to hang around. That night we went out and explored to see what the place had to offer, it had plenty, a great mix of restaurants from the normal side of the road vendors to huge fancy places where us backpackers happily avoided. We ended up heading up the road to a friend of the hotel owners place called Joes (shockingly the guys name too) this was an awesome courtyard cafe with wicker chairs a jungle of plants all over and two movie rooms you could come and use at any hour of the day or night. This ended up being a bit of a haunt for us with us passing out in the movie rooms and generally chilling there at some point every day. At Joe’s they had acoustic musicians on most nights who where really good and great sports when we decided we wanted to do some karaoke until Kristian started to steal the show with his very dramatic solos.
We spent most days on the beach or in the pool and evenings enjoying the strip of bars constantly meeting new people and partying till sunrise. After Jacko had turned up a few days after us and we had showed him everything the town had to offer and to a sand dune party (that was a huge pile of steaming... well you get the idea, so I'm not going to waste time explaining it) we decided to rent bikes again and head off to the Dunes this time during the day to check them out and have a bit of a mini adventure.
So early in the morning we got our bikes sorted and headed out of town in the direction of the dunes. After a while we started adventuring down dirt side roads which some leap to dead ends and tough rides for our little scooters until we found one leading to some dunes here we stopped off and did some crazy off road riding. We moved on passing the massive dunes and a crazy harbour of boats that was just spectacular to see. And then decided to head off towards the beach for a swim this turned out easier said than done and it took us a while to find a route onto the beach finally we did down a dirt road with piles of sand all along it and construction sites either side after a huge fight against the road and our scooters, we hit the beach and chilled in the waves. As the afternoon went on we went riding along the beach great fun especially with the tide coming in very fast as the water gradually stole more and more of the beach we looked for an escape. Eventually we found a tough looking area with no buildings that was full of coconut palms, but our only way out. We worked together helping each other fight our bikes up the first dune then from sinking in the sand or getting stuck on all the fallen coconuts and branches. The aptly named Coconut Trail was not easy by any means and after we had made it through to a road we had to pull palm leaves and bits of coconut husk from our chains, wheels and other parts of the bikes plus get rid of as much sand as possible. From the coconut trail we headed off to find the road home but ran into more huge dunes and pulled up for an explore, this time of foot as these dunes were huge and our scooters stood no chance. From the top of the dunes all you could see ahead of you was sand rolling into the distance and behind us perfect blue sea as far as you could see with just the little town and road in between. Whilst on the dunes Jacko and I tried to sand board on some borrowed sheets of plastic but well that was a huge failure and waste of time but apparently really funny for the others to watch.
The next day we thought we should throw a party and the lads play Wizard sticks a drinking game Jacko told us about. So throughout the day we went around inviting the people we knew to come down, along with pretty much anyone else we ran into. Along with inviting people we had to get stuff together so headed off on our scooters to get the necessities for a party. We went off haggling for crates of beer from different shops around town plus things to make an ice box, wizards clothes and lots of duct b tape ( for wizards sticks) and anything else that seemed like a good idea at the time and finally ice which was surprisingly hard to get hold of until me and Jacko went to a seafood restaurant which we had seen had huge blocks of ice to keep the fish fresh. This took a lot of dancing around and haggling on my part but finally we got these blocks of ice and with Jacko and I looking like locals him with crates of beer strapped to the back of his bike and me with huge blocks of ice on mine and between my legs we headed back to kick start the night.
Wizard Sticks. Now there are drinking games and there are drinking games wizard sticks is a challenge and a challenge that becomes harder the taller you are. Its very simple all you have to do is drink beer (cans only), now here is were the challenge and game begins, each can you drink you then have to tape the new can on top, hence the duct tape, and repeat till you have drunk your height in beer. I'm sure you understand why it’s harder the taller you are. Anyway the be all and end all of the game is to drink your height in beer leading to you having a stack of cans, looking like a Wizards staff or “wizard stick” simple but what a game and great fun for a group of friends who do nothing better than mess about and drink.
Any way after a couple more days in Mui Ne we moved on down to our last stop in Vietnam, Saigon. With us on the bus and Jacko riding a couple of hours behind on Tatiana (his Minsk, Motorcycle) we arrived after just a few hours and got a place straight away, unlike in Mui Ne. But Saigon is for next time...