I left Saigon just before 7am enroute to Phan Thiet – one of the big spots where fish sauce is made. I took a train and had purchased the “hard sleeper cabin bed”. And they weren’t lying about that! A flimsy mattress is all that pads you between the wooden bed that is barely long enough for me to lay down. Plus there are 6 sleepers in this very small cabin – 3 on top of each other on both sides of the cabin.
In my cabin were two families, one with two little kids and the other with one kid.
Meet Khanh Phuong – an 8 year old girl who was a little shy with me but i could see she’s very outgoing with family and people who were locals. Always making her little brother cry and tickling everybody’s feet while trying to sleep (mine included).
This Vietnamese gangster look-alike is only 8 months old. He says he goes by the name Thien Anh but I’m sure that’s his cover up name. I’m very suspicious of this one because it’s 35C outside and he’s wearing purple on purple sweats and sweater. Hiding sleeve tattoo is my guess. Plus he had no love for Sheldon!
I thoroughly enjoyed the kids very much and at the end of bus ride I decided to hand out Li Xi (red envelope) with 10,000 VND in it.
I arrived to Phan Thiet with the intention of taking the public bus to Mui Ne using my game plan I deployed when I arrived in Saigon. What a disaster. I asked the helper at front desk which bus to take to Mui Ne. He pointed at this red bus that all the Asian folks were going. In hindsight he must’ve thought I belonged with these group of travellers. When I got on I see the bus is stopping at specific hotels. HOTELS. All fancy ones. I’m thinking the entire time “I don’t think I belong here…”. I didn’t even tell this man where I need to go! After the last set of people get off the driver seemed super confused. I couldn’t even understand what he said so I didn’t bother butchering Vietnamese in front of him. I just showed him the address I need to go and he shook his head, asked for 35,000 VND (I hadn’t paid yet so I paid him) thinking he’ll take me. Shit, was I wrong. He took me to some street and said “just wait here for bus #1”. Ok good, we’re getting somewhere. I understood what he said. So I got off and waited. And waited. And waited. And there’s not a speck of shade around me and it’s during the prime time of heat (called the siesta) . So I just started walking. Thank goodness I had a bottle of water from the train otherwise I might’ve had to get creative to get some fluids. Keep in mind I have a decent sized bag on my back. But then I came across the red sand dunes. I had planned to do this during my stay here so I said eff it, I’m already disgusting it can’t get much worse. So I did a small uphill walk to the top of the dunes and snapped some pics.
There I met such a nice German girl named Kim. I learnt the hard way by now that finding an English speaking person right now is difficult so it was refreshing to see Kim and talk with her. Kim is 22 years old and has been travelling around the world since graduating university. Upon her return she says she begins her masters program in environmental science in Berlin. She offered to take me to my hostel and as much as I wanted to go, she only had one helmet. In Vietnam it’s a law now that riders need a helmet and after hearing crazy stories about the things that people have gone through I had to restrain. See dad, i be good and smart boy!
After Kim left I waited for bus #1 again at the bus stop I was told to wait at. It eventually got to the point where I said “ok whatever comes first to offer ride I’m just gonna go”…and then one of the locals says for 30k he’ll take me. Fine.😑
LongSun campsite is where I’m staying. It’s a huge, very chill facility with a few tents situated on the beach with the rest in a common area at the other end of the chill room. I was pretty excited to see that my tent was one of the jokers on the beach.
I jumped into the filthy waters for a bit before hanging out on the beach chatting some people up.
Here I met Natalie, England born but now Aussie resident, a fashion designer for the Australian labels lulu and Rose. I know right? I assumed lulu lemon too so I befriended her immediately. But nope! Damn, too late to just give her the cold shoulder now…
She has a great story on her adventure of arriving to Mui Ne. After arriving in Saigon airport she needed to find a way to bus to Mui Ne. But during this time finding transportation is absolutely horrifying. It’s difficult. Unable to find one, she had to fork over $100usd (2.2 million VND) for a 4 hour drive here via taxi. But then things got weird she says. With little communication between her and the driver, she noticed the driver began to go into a rural area. The driver communicates that he wants to go “pick up his friend”. She’s thinking “oh fuck, I’m getting murdered”. When she arrives at this home, she sees a woman open the door and comes out. The lady tells her to follow, and she did just that because “I just felt trusting at that moment”. When she arrives at this home, she was told to sit down on kitchen floor. Confused, the woman brought her water and the lunar new year food Banh Chung! The taxi driver and Natalie ate their lunch and then packed up to prepare for the drive. It turns out that this “friend” of his is none other than his wife! Anyways, the driver and Natalie walk outside back to the taxi. Then all of the sudden Natalie says “the wife comes out and locks the house door…and comes in the taxi!”. It turns out that because this driver has to go to Mui Ne, he had decided why not make it a short holiday with his wife. How cute.
The rest of my day was spent in the general lounging area. And it’s very big. Wide open with couches everywhere. The tents get really hot so people fall asleep out here which is nice but deadly cuz the mozzys are relentless. Mozzy is Aussie slang for mosquitoes. I’ve met so many here that they’re teaching me lingo I’ve never heard of and its so awesome. These lazy speakers HAVE to shorten everything. “Want to go this s’arvo?” Means “want to go this late afternoon?”. Or a word like “ceebs”, which is the shorten version OF ANOTHER shorten word/abbreviation “CBF” (which is used by the British I believe), that means “can’t be fucked”. So for example “hey want to go drinking latah?” , “ah no mate, got an exam tmrw. Ceebs”.
So to finish, I just ended up drinking a ton of beer playing pool and chess with other travellers!