Friday, September 10, 2010

Road trip section 2: Long Hai to Mui Ne

Posted by Dan.

Thursday was a cracker of a day. We got up at 6am and hit the road by 7am. We had a decent ride ahead of us, about 180km along the coast to Mui Ne. There was a scenic route which often hugged the coastline giving us amazing views of the South China Sea. The roads were in good condition and were very empty; at least in terms of what we are used too. It was a photographer’s paradise. On the right was the ocean with the morning sun reflecting bright silver off the otherwise blue water. On the left were hills full of green trees which would change quite quickly as we rode along to rice fields with active farmers bent over, working their crops. We passed sand dunes along the coast and many small fishing villages. The locals smiled and were interested and perhaps a little surprised to see foreigners. We saw only two other foreigners in 3 days; it was a couple on push bikes, riding on the highway, making us look lazy.

We stopped along the way at a few of the beaches for a photo and a walk.

We rode through Loc An, Ho Tram and Ho Coc Beach. The beaches were virtually deserted so we took the opportunity to explore. Later, we saw a Vietnamese couple getting their wedding photos done on a big rock overlooking the ocean. Good idea! We passed small villages, stopped for our routine Vietnamese coffee and chatted about the joys of travelling on a motorbike.

We stopped at Binh Chau for an early lunch. We went to and eco friendly Hot Springs Resort which has, believe it or not, hot springs you can swim in. At 37 degrees we decided to pass but dipped out feet in the hot springs footbath until we were sweating. There resort had gardens and rides and even an area where they boil eggs in the hot springs.

After lunch we continued towards Mui Ne, riding through La Gi before cutting back inland towards Highway 1. We passed through Thuan Nam and then Phan Thiet before reaching Mui Ne mid afternoon. Along the way we waved to school kids returning home from school on their pushbikes, dodged the occasional cow wandering on the road and, often at the last second, swerved to miss one or two deceiving potholes. Some of the architecture reminded Celine of Sydney. Along the way we stopped once for tea and then for coffee chatting to welcoming locals. I noticed a few people with deformities and/or serious illnesses on our trip and wondered if there was any relation to the terrible problems caused by Agent Orange. I don’t know if this area was affected by that, but, in only a few small towns I have seen severe deformities that I have never before seen in my life.

Mui Ne, a touristy beach town, has a different pace to the places we drove through this morning. The area is well developed with big, swish resorts and services on hand to cater the tourist trade. There are heaps of restaurants and shopping as well as a bunch of sports activities like kite surfing and jet skiing. We had a beer at a trendy beach bar on arrival, plotting our next move. After that we found a guesthouse to crash for the night and had a delicious and very cheap seafood dinner.

Today, travel wise, was one of the most enjoyable days I have had. Cruising around on a bike feels very natural to us and we are both developing a real passion for it. Being in complete control of an adventure, especially in a foreign place, is very rewarding and allows you to see and experience so many things and often in a much more authentic way than that of a tour. It gives you a different perspective on your surroundings and enables you to interact more freely with the locals. In short, we absolutely love our bike trip.


  1. Rural areas in the central part of VN were heavily sprayed with AO during the war. It's a really nasty chemical which stays in the soil for ages; and the harm it causes can last for generations.
    I knew an American my age who had a mal-formed stump for an arm, which was most likely the result of his father being exposed to AO in VN.

  2. Thannks for the comment Robert. I know about the AO but I wasn't sure it had affected areas as low we were. I expect it as I get furthur up into the central highlands. If the deformities are a result of AO it is nothing short of a tragedy. When you can actually put a living image to it, and see how these poor people have to live their lives it is incredibly sad and opens your eyes to the long lasting problems of a distant war.