For auld lang syne

Let’s blow this pop stand! Our first trip out of the city was to the beautiful beach town of Mũi Né.

We hopped on the 20:00 sleeper bus to Mũi Né with our friend M&M. I had an idealized version of these “sleepers” in my head. I figured they would be more comfortable than a regular bus but I think I may have been wrong. We had super small sleeping areas to the point that I had to talk myself out of a small claustrophobic panic. It passed quickly enough but that was the start of the very jerky five-hour ride to the beach.

After a very restless sleep, we arrived at 1:30 on the main strip of Mũi Né wired with adrenaline coursing through our vein. We took our packs and walked to the bar to meet our friend Deeno. We stashed our packs behind the wrap-around bar and grabbed a drink.

When that bar closed, we moved down the beach to DJ Station, an outdoor nightclub to dance the night away. The macarena and Lady Marmalade were the highlights of the night. We all sat by the ocean for a little while before moving back down the beach to Deeno’s hotel room on the water.

He was incredibly hospitable in allowing us to crash on his floor. But before going to bed, we suited up and went for a dip in the ocean. It was chilly but manageable and by the time we were ready to get out, the sun was rising. I ran in and grabbed my camera to capture one of the most stunning sunrises I’ve ever been fortunate enough to witness.

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We watched the women bring in the fishermen's lines at sunrise

Watching the women bring in the fishermen’s lines at sunrise

We went to bed around 6:00 and slept until about 10:00. We got up, went for a Vietnamese breakfast, including massive coconuts to cure hangovers.

We got a hold of Pistol and went up to Mũi Né Hills hotel swimming pool. To say it was off the beaten path would be a gross understatement. Pistol’s instructions were very specific: “Get off at the bottom of the hill. Walk up until you see the hotel on the right. Don’t go in. Take a left between the two fences. And walk until you can’t walk any further. There are no landmarks.”

And boy was she right. It took us several tries to get it right. But the payoff was more than worth it. This stunning location was at the top of the world. There was coastline and there were kitesurfers’ kites as far as the eye could see.

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We spent the entire afternoon by the pool napping, swimming and tanning. That’s what I call paradise. We zipped back to our hotel to shower and get dressed for dinner. We met up with the whole crew and went for a traditional Vietnamese fresh seafood dinner. So fresh, in fact, that we could select our fish from a tank. I didn’t partake in this. We left the task up to Pistol and Deeno. Our massive feast worked out to about 170,000 VND (less than $9) per person. Yeah, we really broke the bank.

After dinner we began our impromptu pub crawl down the beach. There were tiny little bars every few metres. We ended up at a place called Pogo which is where we rang in 2013. There was a huge fire pit, a dragon dance and a fire wielder.

It was such an amazing party! And really nice not to have to bounce around a city from party to party. We were with our favourite people in the country and couldn’t have asked for anything more exciting. It was the perfect way to cap off a perfect day.

After dancing the night away, we headed back to our hotel in the wee hours of the morning and didn’t rise again until 13:00 the following day. It was glorious! We went to Pogo for, oh yes, breakfast! This amazing place must stay open practically twenty-four hours a day but boy were we happy about that. We snapped some more stunning photos of the coastline while we waited for our food, scarfed it all down, and then went to meet Rhino and Pistol for a walk at Fairy Stream.

Standing above it all!

Standing above it all!

Wading through the shallow waters of the creek

Wading through the shallow waters of the creek

This place was magical! Red sand dunes and a sandy creek to wind our way through the valleys. It was a spiritual, sandy experience!

The only thing about Fairy Stream was the fish sauce factory at the mouth of the trail. It gives off an awful smell and anyone who tells you that you have to see a fish factory in Vietnam, let me tell you, you absolutely don’t. Skip it.

Raaaaaank! Blech!

Raaaaaank! Blech!

To top off our athletic venture, we stopped in at Phat Burger for hands-down the most delicious veggie burger I’ve ever had.

Mine had grilled pineapple and spicy chilli mayo as the secret toppings. Nom nom nom!

Mine had grilled pineapple and spicy chilli mayo as the secret toppings. Nom nom nom!

We left Rhino and Pistol to return to our room for some downtime. As we’ve found to become a regular part of life here, our stomachs started rumbling around 21:00 so we set out for some more food at a kebab place just down the beach. The food was also delicious here!

Partway through dinner, the power went out all along the strip which made for a quiet ambience. After sitting in the candlelight for much longer than our servers probably wanted (they even brought us our bill without asking which is something that never happens in Vietnam), we went to the beach to sit by the roaring ocean.

It was sad to think that we’d be returning to the city with no access to the ocean for a while so we took it in for as long as we could. Then we returned to our room to get some sleep for our early bus ride the next morning.

As we rode back to the city the next morning, we were sad to see the ocean and sand go but Sài Gòn has truly become our home and we were happy to return to our flat.

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