Most people, when thinking about Vietnam think of a first world country that is still poorly developed. On my latest trip, I visited with anticipation,curiosity and a little trepidation in my heart.
I would have to be honest and confess that a small part of the reason for my trip was because of my friendships with two vietnamese friends. Having locals as friends in any part of the world is a perfectly good reason for visiting!
The rest of the reason was plainly to satisfy my hunger for travel after a 4 month drought of constant working. And of course, to tick yet more places off my travel list. (a note here to mention my list is completely long and it will probably never end)
So imagine my shock when I came across the white dunes in Mui Ne, to the southeast of Vietnam. A place settled a small distance from fishing villages in the coastal area. One thing that was incredible was the change of landscapes so drastic in a mere 10 hour road trip.
Think of Ho Chin Minh/Saigon as a completely wild, exciting and seemingly fearful city full of noise, vehicles and constant bustle, you move on to horrendously jammed two lane roads leading to the highway (which causes about 3 hours of your trip out of town), which you then enter rural Vietnam.
Outskirts of HCM: Towns are lesser packed, and it becomes quieter. Further on and you enter this vast area full of fields filled with trees. Trees that are used agriculturally, lined up in multiple rows and rows. I immediately set up in my little sleeper cot and looked out the window.
The following day to the dunes was on this spectacular stretch of road hugging the coastline. Past the fishing village, we were clearly on a lesser traversed route. Going towards to the dunes on this road highlighted the breaking waves at dawn, it was around 630am.
Locals were there to accompany us on ATV bike rides. One local to each person. It was extremely exciting going up and down the dunes! Difficult to capture on camera, the dunes actually dip down, some to a very great height. I was so afraid i was going to fall off, my wrist gripped around my local guy’s waist as he happily zoomed at the maximum speed down, getting happier everytime i screamed my head off. After a bit of ‘fake’ scares, i got used to it and 15 mins later I was zooming down down down dunes- one hand grabbing his waist, the other with a cigarette in hand. I was a lean mean ATV biker.
That day, as I sat in the sand looking out on this exquisite landscape I knew I was hooked. Vietnam is truly undiscovered and underrated. It has so much to offer and we only have to reach out and explore.