Our mission: reach the red desert of Vietnam to witness an alluring crimson sunset. But in order to get there, we had to make our way through a few other areas of interest first. My group of twelve split into two off-road jeeps and set off along the southern Vietnam coast!
The first site we went through is an area called ‘Fairy Stream’, a hidden gem in Vietnam. Basically, it’s a stream that goes through a small jungle and eventually winds through mountainous walls of white rocky slopes laden with red sand that seeps into the water. The stream runs over a bed of soft maroon sand that comes up to your ankles. It was boiling hot outside but the stream was running at a delicate temperature and the white walls and dense jungle that blocked the sun cast cool shadows on random plots of the pass. All of those elements combined creating a magical setting, which gave it the name, Fairy Stream.
As we walked in the beginnings of the stream trail, a local came out of seemingly nowhere and cheerfully said to us, “Want to ride an ostrich?”. My eyes instantly lit up. “Um, YES!” If any of you have been paying attention to my blog from back in the day at all, then you’d know I have been trying to ride an ostrich ever since my trip to The Garden Route last summer in South Africa. The reason I couldn’t then is because I was simply too heavy. My weight has remained the same ever since, so I doubted that this random Vietnamese guy would let me ride one. “I want to but I weigh too much!” I said to him. I don’t think he understood me at all. He just wanted me to ride the ostrich solely for my money. I debated it, because I didn’t want to hurt or strain the ostrich, so Lucy gladly went first as I thought heavily over it. This particular bird was very tame, unlike the ones in South Africa who would go crazy and chase you all over the place. Also unlike the one I took care of in Peru who consistently tried to bite my head off. But no, this one waited for Lucy to get on its back, and did a lap around the field, and brought her back full circle, peacefully. It was a quick ride, so I figured I’d try it out too.
Checked that one off my to-do list FINALLY. After that, the sun baked us as we walked further along the stream. The slopes along the stream grew into jaggy walls of red sand and white deposits that resembled stalagmites. This was a very cool (not literally) spot to see, as it was pretty unique. At certain points, we were able to climb the sandy hills up to the more rockier areas. The walls grew larger as we furthered down stream and as the jungle started to shrink away, Fairy Stream transformed more and more into a cavern. It was so scorching hot out that we decided to head immediately to the next area of interest. We went further up along the coast to the fishing market village. This place reeked of something foul, like garbage! It was a pretty cool sight for the eyes, but a pretty wretched smell for my nose. Scores and scores of colorful boats were floating on the shore, catching fish to sell to locals and tourists nearby. We didn’t stay here too long, mainly because the stench was almost unbearable, but also because we wanted to make sure we had enough ample daylight for the sandy dunes. So onward we went!
After a bit of a drive, we made it to the first of the two sand dunes, the White Sand Dunes. These dunes are actually bigger than the red dunes; so big that it looked like a desert took over this part of Vietnam! So big that most of us decided that the best way to trek the dunes was to ride quad bikes over the hills!
Everyone partnered up, but I wanted my very own quad. It was dubbed “The Green Frenzy”, a mean little beast that never once lost it’s power. The sun was still blistering but the heat played no factor into the amount of fun I was having, sweeping through the sands. It was my first time on a quad bike so of course I may have flubbed once or twice. I got my quad stuck in deep sand as I was going up a steep dune twice. I had to get off my bike and push it out of the hole I buried myself into as my feet were sinking into the sand. I got the quad out out both times but it sure did take the life out of me! We all had the quads for about twenty to thirty minutes before we were directed to drive back to the starting point. We had to hurry on to the next and last area, the Red Sand dunes. The Red Dunes get it’s name because…well…the red sand. These dunes were a bit smaller in scope than the White Dunes but still a sight to behold nonetheless. As soon as we made it there, we were bombarded by local children who all wanted us to rent sand sleds from them. I once read on a website somewhere that no matter what, DO NOT rent a sled from these kids. I don’t remember the reason as to why exactly besides the fact that they try to rip foreigners off. I’ll have to look it up. I was also amazed at how great their English was, even some better than the older students at the college. They probably get used to tons of foreigners telling them the same things so they know exactly what to say from memory. I was able to avoid them (they were very determined to sell me a sled) and made my way to the red sands. I knew this was going to be a great opportunity for a few amazing photos so I brought my trusty Nikon. I didn’t even think about the potential danger of all the sand in the wind that could destroy my camera! I was a bit worried about my baby so I had to shoot fast. I also had to get the settings right for others to take the shots with me in it. I was able to get a few in.
Before the sun actually set, Lucy and I had a brawl as we made our way back up one of the dunes. She may disagree, but I won the match. The heat started to lessen. There were clouds that blocked the sun a bit, but it was still a cool finish to this hot journey. The best part was just chillin’ on top of the dunes with everyone, relaxing as the sun slowly sank back into the horizon. By the end, we were all so beat and worn. Also, very sandy. The idea of going back to the resort and jumping into the pool sounded very satisfying. So back to the hotel we went! We all rinsed off, played in the pool a bit, and headed to a restaurant nearby called Jibes. It’s an outdoor restaurant with hip music, hammocks, and tasty food. It was the end to an almost perfect night, but then the weirdest thing happened. Lucy, Tom, and Addie all of sudden dropped like flies. It happened almost simultaneously. We aren’t too sure what happened but we think it was a form of heat stroke or possibly food poisoning. I didn’t think it could of been food poisoning because we all ate almost the same things. Had to be a heat stroke; we were in the sun all day. The three were out for the remainder of the night and for pretty much the whole of the next day. Very strange. During our last day in Mui Ne, some of us who weren’t sick went swimming into the ocean for the remainder of our time. This is where we would part ways with Shantai. She was on her way to Nha Trang beach, as the rest of us went back to the college. In a few days, she would make one last stop in HCMC to visit us one more time before she headed back to Edmonton, Alberta. We took another sleeper bus back home. While on the bus, I was able to go through most of the photos I took over the weekend. The weekend that amounted to an extravagant few days along the eastern coast of this amazing country with amazing friends.