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Mui Ne Beach, round 2

…go on, eat the fish eyes.

semi-overcast 31 °C
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Since our arrival at Mui Ne Beach 4 days ago, Candy, Mike and I have seen more than Mike and I saw in 2 weeks last time around. It was also peeing down rain last time, so maybe that’s why. It’s still a little rainy and overcast, but the forecast looks good this weekend for some wind! Fingers crossed, people!

Looking for a hotel the first day was a fun little chore. The three of us slid into a taxi and headed toward the south end of the beach in order to saunter our way back to the north, stopping in each hotel to ask price and availability of the rooms. The range seems to be about $10 - $80/night, of the hotels we saw. We opted for the nice, simple room with A/C, hot water and mini fridge for $10/night at Nam Khai Guest House, just across the street from Wax, the bar where we spent most of our time last time – drinking Tiger beer and waiting for the rain to stop.

After finding and securing our rooms for the next night, we crossed the street and headed out to the beach for a wander back to our old hotel, the Hoang Kim Golden Resort, which is located pretty far to the north of the kiting beach – too long to trudge every day in the heat with the kites! Plus, they’re doing construction on all the rooms on the first floor, so we were woken up at 8am both days we were there. It took us about an hour to get to the hotel on foot…in the sand…and the heat…phew!

It was a lovely intro back into Mui Ne life, and speaking of lovely intros, I was lucky enough to get to share an introductory yoga lesson with my friend Candy later that night in the soft glow of the pool. I bought an audio yoga CD by Janet Stone (she teaches at Yoga Tree in San Francisco), which I synced to my iPod. Plug the iPod into portable speakers, place by the pool, and ta-da… instant yoga class! Candy did swimmingly as a first-timer, and I greatly enjoyed sharing the experience with her. Yoga has been central to healing in my life. Whether sharing the class with one or tens of people, or just on my own, yoga centers me, is my moving meditation, keeps me in touch with what really matters to me. It also happens to be a great workout. My and Candy’s session was intensified by the presence of one very large bat. Yes, I said BAT! While holding a pose as we faced the pool, he skimmed the water 3 or 4 times in search of bugs….that or he was scoping out who would be liberated of their blood, Candy or me!!! A few minutes later, I heard a commotion above my head and off to the right a little, looked over, and in the light of the pool just his head was visible – the rest of him was attached by his feet to the overhang of one of the first floor bungalows. He screeched. And screeched again. My heart rate shot up and I wondered if we should haul ass or brave the beast lurking in half-light, lusting after our blood. Then I wondered if the mosquito repellant I had nearly drowned myself in prior to our meditation worked on bats, too. Then I realized that this is real yoga, maintaining calm in the midst of calamity. Meanwhile, back at the ranch…. Don’t take my word for it, but citronella must be an effective repellant of bloodthirsty winged spawn of Satan…he just dangled there like a cling-on while we finished. Walking through the arboretum on our way back to our rooms, the bat dive-bombed us, and then fluttered through the front restaurant and off into the night. We returned to our rooms, unscathed.

The restaurant across from our hotel (as you’re standing at Hoang Kim, slightly to the left and across the street) was the location of a fantastic dinner that night. Fresh foil-steamed fish, rice and veggies, and Candy and I each had a fresh coconut, which contained lots more juice than I expected. Our hostess, Chin, was very attentive and kept picking more and more fish off the carcass in front of us and piling it onto our plates. Unfortunately Mike seemed to get mostly bones! Chin spoke English very well, so we chatted with her through most of the meal. I asked her how long she had worked at the restaurant, and she said that she didn’t work there, that she owned the travel agency next door. She noticed that her neighbors were very busy and volunteered to help them…how sweet! She then grabbed the eye out of the fish on the plate in front of me with her chopsticks and said, “Eating fish eyes makes your vision better!” and proceeded to plunk it down on my plate. Being an adventurous creature, I said, “Well…..uuhhhhh…..ok!” I picked up the eyeball with my chopsticks, gave it the once-over, and placed it in my mouth. Biting down was not the thing to do…I should have just swallowed…what was I thinking!!!??? It was pretty hard, I think I was gnawing on its lens, with very little aqueous/vitreous humor – it was very dry, so I chewed a few times and tried to swallow the bits. It really didn’t taste of anything, just had an odd texture, and I couldn’t stop the feeling of a fish eye swimming around and looking at the inside of my stomach.

The next day we rented bikes to ride to the fishing village about 10 miles north of the beach.

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As far as I can tell, the whole stretch is called Mui Ne. I don’t think any of us have been on a bike in a very long time. That being said, none of us crashed or was hit by a speeding passenger bus the entire time! All along this road, there are houses, food stalls, moped repair, clothing, snack shops and stunning views of red sand dunes on one side, and the South China Sea on the other.

The fishing boats were fun to see…they all seem to be similar. There are small bowl-shaped rowboats that they use to paddle out to the big boats, and then they moor the smaller boat while they go out fishing, which seems to be mostly at night or in the wee hours of the morning.

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We ran into a few local girls selling trinkets, and they followed us all the way down the steep steps to the water, holding our hands and touting their wares.

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They were so sweet, and spoke English quite well. I asked one of the girls, Jae, where she learned English, if it was in school. She said she didn’t go to school, and that she was taught by a tourism agency. I’ve heard that school isn’t free, so those who can’t afford to pay go to the streets to sell trinkets etc to tourists…seems so sad to me, but they seemed very happy and chatty, and they seemed to all be good friends. As we were getting back on our bikes, it looked to me like they were pooling the money they made from us and dividing it.

That night to reward ourselves for all our efforts during the bike ride, we proceeded to get tipsy at the bar called WAX.

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The next day, dangling by the thread of a hangover, we three booked a jeep tour of the nearby white and red sand dunes. We learned that if you’ve seen one sand dune, you’ve seen them all. The sky was particularly wild with pre-storm plumes of white fluffy cumulonimbi, which made for some majestic photos of the landscape. See the photo gallery for more pics.

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The nearby Lake of Tears was full of reeds and lotus flowers, and the ponies used for tours on the dunes were cooling themselves in the water, some almost invisible under the water with just their heads poking up out of the water.

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The Fairy Stream was the highlight of the tour, a stream that runs through a chasm of red and white sand and lush greenery and tropical flowers.

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We waded through the ankle-calf deep water for about 30 minutes, and then headed back to the jeep to continue the tour. This was actually the first stop, followed by the white dunes, the red canyon, and the red dunes. Here’s a photo of the red canyon.

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We ended our day with a drink at SNOW, an uber-cool sushi restaurant next door to our hotel – soft blue lights and plush, white décor. They happen to have wifi, so we brought the computers and had a tech moment. Later, back at the hotel, we hung out in Candy’s room before heading off to dreamland…saying goodbye to Candy was sad. It was great fun having her around, but hopefully she’ll be back this way before Saigon. If not, I plan on meeting her in Saigon for a couple days before she goes back to the US.

Yesterday was a very low-key day, as we topped up our tans on the beach, practiced poi, and had a light and early dinner before retiring to our room for rum & coke and 3 more episodes of Battlestar Galactica (not the 1970s version)…if you haven’t seen it, it’s a great series!

Today after breakfast, as the rain eased off, I jumped into a cab and headed out to the local hospital to see if I could arrange a tour and possibly some volunteer work. To my dismay, it seems to be a tourist hospital, triaging toe injuries and drunken head traumas. It was actually very quiet with only one patient getting a toe bandaged. I met the Traditional Physician, Vo, who had many local acupuncture patients coming in about ½ hour, so I waited and was able to observe his practice. It was fascinating to see. He had 2 patients on tables in separate rooms, and about 6 more in the waiting room. He sees about 15 – 20 patients per day, a decrease from 50 per day since moving here from nearby Phan Tiet. Despite our language barriers, we were able to communicate somehow, and it was a very enjoyable experience. He was surprised at the length of study I am about to embark on in the field of Natural Medicine – 6 years. I still am not sure if he was able to gather that I am about to start my studies, not just finishing them. He showed me his acupuncture book, which looked like it was hundreds of years old – it was beautiful. I was touched by his eagerness to share his practice with me, as well as his patients' willingness to allow me in the treatment rooms with them.

Posted by kmpossible 06:27 Archived in Vietnam Tagged tourist_sites

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I am so very jealous! I would have loved to have toured the hospital with you....

No mention of wind??

by Khandilee

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