Wolfpack of Four

Trip Start Mar 09, 2010
Trip End Jun 11, 2010

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Where I stayed
Thai Hoa

Flag of Vietnam  , Bình Thuận,
Friday, April 23, 2010

Mui Ne is a small coastal town in southern Vietnam.  It is known for its beaches, but more importantly, for its sand dunes.  Mui Ne has large stretches of white and red sand dunes that attract many tourists, and it is supposed to be a lot of fun to go sand-sledding down them.  I had wanted to go to Mui Ne, but since it is a little out of the way to visit both Mui Ne and Dalat, I thought I would be missing it. 

However, with the forecast predicting more rain in Dalat and Tabor and Sarah planning on stopping by Mui Ne before Saigon, Quyen and I decided to join them on their trip.  To backtrack a little bit, after the four of us joined up to leave Nha Trang together, I joking started throwing the term "wolfpack" around to describe us, using the same "lone wolf" and other phrases from Alan in the Hangover.  When Quyen and I joined with Sarah and Tabor for Mui Ne, there was a big debate over leadership in this newly formed wolfpack and a lot of arguing over who was really following who around.  Ultimately, when we got to Mui Ne and Tabor and Sarah opted for the slightly cheaper, much worse non-AC room, Quyen and I exercised our power as alpha males of the wolfpack to let them know who was boss if they thought they were going to be enjoying the comforts of our AC room.

Anyway, the bus from Dalat to Mui Ne was about five or six hours and took us through constant potholes and incredibly bumpy dirt roads that really never seemed to end.  It was without a doubt one of the worst bus rides I have ever been on.

We got to Mui Ne and organized a tour to take us to the dunes along with some other stops along the way.  We had only planned on being there for one day and wanted to make sure to get to the dunes.  More days in Mui Ne probably would have been nice, but it turned out that one day was the perfect amount of time.

We first went to the fairy spring, which was a small river that you can wade through as it cuts inside the red and white dunes and made some really interesting formations in the sand.  It was really pretty to see the combination of red and white sand mixed together into different shapes.

Obviously, the highlight of the day was when we went to the white dunes.  It was crazy to see these huge sand dunes in the middle of Vietnam, and even crazier after coming from the hills earlier in the day.  It was pretty amazing to think that it was only a short (albeit unpleasant) bus ride to go from the cool, green mountains to the hot, white sand dunes of Vietnam.

We rented a plastic board from the little kids at the front and made our way to the dunes.  We tried to find the highest of all the sled-able dunes.  Some looked dangerous because there were rocks at the bottom, but the ones where people were sledding all seemed a little short.  A problem with the really big dunes is the walk back up, and a lot of people were lazy.

We found a high-looking dune with only a couple people on it and started doing our sledding.  We had four people and created a little rotation utilizing two cameras: sledding -> videoing from the bottom -> resting -> photographing from the top.  The sun was strong today and the heat made such a fun activity pretty tiring by the end.

I was the first to go down and took a small running start on the soft sand to pick up speed.  As I went down the dune, I tried to move my board to hit maximum speed, but the hill was not high enough to go too fast.  It was still a lot of fun, and I fell off at the bottom and my sweaty skin made sand stick to me everywhere.

We spent the next hour or so sand-boarding down different dunes to find the best one.  We finally found a really high, steep one that ended in a turn, allowing for more distance.  This one was definitely everyone's favorite because it was so big and we all picked up so much speed.  On my first run, I even had to try and skip my feet in the ground to slow myself down because I was going so fast, and I still got sand all in my face by the end.  But it was awesome.  Unfortunately, Sarah was on recording duty for my best run and somehow forgot to start the video, so I didn't get any evidence out of it.  Nonetheless, the sand-sledding in Mui Ne was a great time and something I don't know if I could do in many other places.  Definitely worth an unexpected bonus day stop on the way to Saigon.
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