The White Dunes and Lotus Lake panorama
Mui Ne is a little fishing town-- at least that's what it's like once you get past the stretches of beach resorts that border it. It must be strange to be a local fisherman and see your town's outskirts taken over by pale foreigners doing their best to transform themselves into lobsters. We are staying in the middle of the resort stretch. The end closest to Phan Thiet seems more expensive (starting with golf resorts by the golf course and then just simple luxury beach resorts). Towards the middle there are some mid-range options and the end closest to the town has a few budget establishments.
The towns of Mui Ne, Phan Thiet and the resort strip are all located on a curved bay which provides sunrises and sunsets on the right and left hand sides.
Our first night here we walked on the beach a bit, watched fishermen working and children swimming. I also got unwillingly pulled into a game where 2 children, a boy and a girl, pretended to stab me with a plastic knife. Little brats...
Local kid on the beach
We've rented a motorbike and biked to Phan Thiet, the nearest city. Our first stop was the Cham towers which are stone/brick structures similar to some of the less impressive Angkor structures, but even less impressive. We got tailed by some kids who seemed to want us to pay them for the privilege of being annoyed by them...more little brats. There is a pagoda near the towers as well. The Cham culture was an early culture from this area so I figured we should at least see the tower.
Phan Thiet has a picturesque river full of fishing boats, a small market, and lots of stores and businesses. It's a bustling town. We were searching for some cheap food. The food in the resort strip is not only fairly tasteless it is also over priced 2-3x what the price should be. In town we found filling meals of com (rice) with vegetables, soup and tea. Rowshan had chicken and I had eggs and a piece of mushroom egg loaf. Rowshan's was 15,000, mine was 12,000. Vegi fried rice on the strip is usually 20-35,000.
Phan Thiet Port
All the hotels and tour agents offer a tour of the Mui Ne region to see the Red Dunes, White Dunes, Fairy Stream, and Red Canyon. We rented a motorcycle and decided to do the tour on our own. After a brief stop at the Red Dunes (which were hot) we biked alongside empty beaches to the White Dunes, about 20km outside of Mui Ne. At first we missed the turnoff but found a view of one side of the lake and birds wheeling overhead. We found the road and saw the White Dunes which looked like swirls of soft butter rising beyond Lotus Lake. The dunes were hot and the winds stirred up a mist of sand about 1 foot from the dunes' surface.
Sand patterns in the dunes
Rowshan and Tamia on the Red Dunes
The White Dunes
On the way back we biked through a bit of traffic from a school getting out. I was impressed how the girls managed to keep their school uniforms so clean while biking.
School girls biking home
We had a sad dinner and fruit shake. It is a tragedy indeed when establishments in a beach resort area in tropical countries can't make decent fruit shakes. We consoled ourselves by going to a different restaurant that makes tasty banana chocolate pancakes. There the owner's 2 little girls immediately came up to Rowshan. The oldest violently squeezed his nose. This soon deteriorated into some rather rough game involving the girl hitting Rowshan and trying to grab his nose. He quickly tired of this and distracted them with a hand slapping game which they loved so soon we were stuck playing that. Then they wanted to play horse by standing on our legs and holding our hands as we bounced. Worrying they were going to fall since they were jumping and twisting about. Rowshan started the “Which hand has the shell?” game which kept them occupied until our pancake came and they were taken to their house. The kids here play rough. Their parents must be exhausted.