The Ocean

Trip Start Dec 15, 2009
Trip End Aug 27, 2010

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The open bus from Saigon to Mui Ne provided a smooth journey (if never changing speed for anything means smooth) arriving close to the resort where we had a reservation. First impressions weren't great as the Full Moon Beach Resort looks quite ordinary from the road, compared to some of the more glitzy places we had passed on the way into town. However, Lonely Planet got it right this time; Full Moon is one of the older original resorts in Mui Ne and as such has had time to mature. The lush grounds are full of beautiful trees and plants, creating plenty of shade while leaving enough openness to toast nicely if you so desire. The restaurant is beach front and Full Moon still has lots of sand, unlike resorts further to the north which sport sea walls instead. Our room is probably the best we’ve had so far on this trip (other than the Hilton, but those don’t count...). The bedroom area has a large four poster bed with mosquito nets (more aesthetic than functional we think) and a huge bathroom, curtained off from the living area which had TV, sofa, coffee table, desk, kitchen area and two single beds for the kids. Outside we had table and chairs on a large shared wraparound balcony overlooking the pool. Full Moon also provides a few extra little touches like fresh fruit in your room everyday, great breakfasts and a fresh thermos of boiling water for tea and coffee delivered to the door in the early hours.

Enough about the hotel. Mui Ne beach is a World class location for wind&wave-powered watersports and every afternoon the hoardes of kite-boarders assemble to resemble flocks of huge, brightly coloured birds soaring in the wind. As tempting as it was to try a new sport, the time and cost needed to learn coupled with the lack of opportunity for pursuing it in Alberta ensured that commonsense prevailed and we passed on kite-surfing….for now…. The reasons for Mui Ne being such a hot spot for the sport are obviously the wind and the surf, and we had great fun playing in the surf. The wind also provided welcome relief from the scorch of the sun, although a few tender reddish patches now tell the other side of the story. The wind dropped significantly after the first couple of days which reduced the capacity for boogie boarding, though the kids had fun trying…. Their swimming has really come on in leaps and bounds over the past few months and both kids can swim full lengths and are developing good front crawl techniques, though they much prefer to spend their time in the water diving in, doing handstands, somersaults, etc.

We arrived in Mui Ne on St Patrick’s Day and so, with the kids wearing any green they had, we set out to find dinner and/or a drink or two in an Irish bar, or at least one pretending to be Irish for the day. What we found is that Mui Ne has another (unheralded) claim to fame i.e. the only tourist town in the World without an Irish Pub…. I didn’t think such a place existed. That’s not to say that Mui Ne doesn’t have some interesting and unique bars such as "Snow", where everything is white to help the Russian tourists with their homesickness (can’t be many Canadians in Mui Ne?). We resisted the temptation to go there because truth be told, we’re not missing the white stuff too much yet!

This was a truly laid back week with most days following the routine of breakfast, beach, pool, lunch, pool, beach, dinner, get mosquito bites! (Sarah’s record is now 25 bites on one foot). A few other activities were thrown in for good measure; Sarah & Lauren joined some yoga classes in the hotel garden; Derek took the kids out jet-skiing (or maybe it was the other way round?); we watched Manchester United beat Liverpool 2-1 (even Lauren enjoyed that game as since we’ve been in SE Asia the kids have taken to using the local pronunciation of Riverpoo at any opportunity!) and did a little more shopping. We took advice on a couple of restaurants and settled on one nearby for most of the week. The food was fantastic, fresh, and cheap (about $10 for all four of us) … Lauren & Alex even got to pick the two fresh crabs that would end up on our table 15mins later!

Our only real “sightseeing” activity of the week was a trip to Fairy Stream. This small stream winds its way through tall multicoloured sand dunes to the sea, and it’s a very enjoyable stroll up the riverbed from the sea with the dunes on one side and elevated rice paddies on the other. The red and white sands collaborate to create beautiful patterns and vistas all the way up to the fresh waterfall at the source. An added bonus was the workout and sunset views provided as reward for climbing to the top of the highest dunes.

One benefit to our beach weeks is that we stay in resorts rather than hostels and resorts attract other families. The kids had great fun over the weekend that we were at Full Moon Beach as there were several families from Saigon spending the weekend there and the kids were able to make some new friends and play with people other than each other….a welcome change and some new email friends made. Alex may even get to meet up with his friends in the summer as they will be staying with their grandparents who seem to live near to Uncle Trevor.

Next stop for us is Ninh Binh in the north of Vietnam, a short train hop away…..well, ….if you can call a 26 hour journey a short hop…. hope it runs on time!
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