Over the past 20 years, Mui Ne has become the closest big-resort location to Ho Chi Minh City. But in an area where the Vietnamese desert stretches down to the sea, much remains undiscovered, and in many areas, life remains unchanged.
Ganh Mui Ne
Joe parks his car down a sand-cum-gravel path leading to the beach. Alongside is a resort — a lot of swank, not too many customers. Much of Mui Ne is like that right now.
The beach that opens out in front of us is a bay-like stretch of white sand that on one end curves out to Mui Ne. The other end stretches north towards Hon Rom.
Yet like many of the beaches in Vietnam, this stretch hasn’t been beautified for foreign tourists, although the collection of resorts have tried (but failed) to have a say. It’s a working beach that doubles up as a place for sea-goers to paddle, splash and play; if they can avoid boats, anchors and fishing nets.
Joe and I walk towards the sea. “It’s not looking too great here at the moment,” he says staring at all the litter. “The quality of the beaches in this area are dependent on the season, the currents and the tide. Sometimes all the trash gets washed up — it’s not local, it’s probably from China in the north. Sometimes the sand is perfectly clean.”
Joe should know. A seven-year-long resident of Mui Ne and the name (and face) behind Joe’s Garden Resort and Cafe, he is constantly battling with the need to try and keep his beach in shape. At the time of writing he was building a sea wall, “but you’ve only got a small window of opportunity. The currents change so quickly. And sometimes the waves get three or even five meters high. Build it wrong and it will get washed away.”
My attention is caught by a man carrying in a plastic petrol-like can in from the sea. He is soaked to the bone yet wrapped up in jeans, shirt and scarf to keep out the burning of the sun. The can is deposited on the beach next to a woman, they have a quick conversation, then he returns to his boat moored in the sea to get the next load.
The can is filled with fish — small fish from the day’s catch.
“They catch anything these days,” says Joe, peering inside. “They just don’t care.”
“The problem is they all have to make a living,” I say. “But yeah, if they’re not careful, this bay will be overfished. They need to replenish.”
As we walk back into the car and look over at the near-empty resort, it seems that it’s not only the fishing stock that needs to be replenished. — Nick Ross
Marc tells me a story.
“This place used to be run by an American guy,” he says, spreading his arms to take in the beach. “But he put his trust in the wrong girl. She took him to the cleaners. It’s such a shame.”
Located close to Ham Tien Market, Lang Cat or sand village is the Mui Ne of the past. Angled coconut trees, bent in curves by the wind, provide shade. Fishing boats moor on the white sand beach and plastic coracles or thuyen thung filled with fishing nets stack next to a banana-leaf rooved hut. Except for the guesthouse and restaurant where I sit over a beer with Marc, little has changed in this unexpected stretch of Mui Ne.
“It reminds me of Phu Quoc 15 years ago,” I say. “All the guesthouses and restaurants on the beach had the same feel, the same ambience.”
We sit for a while at our table on the beach shooting some cool, late morning breeze, then I go off and take photos.
I want to stay here all day but I’ve got stuff to do and I need a shower — it’s the hottest time of the year right now. But I swear to myself I’ll come back. This place, its simplicity, is one of the things I love about Vietnam. — Nick Ross
When the Cows Come Home
Hung Thinh is only 15km or so north of Mui Ne, but according to reviews on Trip Advisor, it’s the perfect destination for anyone who wants to camp out under the stars. It’s a real khach san ngan sao, or thousand-star hotel.
So au naturel is this property, that you’ll have cows for neighbours and desert scrub in place of floor tiles. Just don’t expect any modern amenities. And if you’re looking to pitch a tent for the night, you won’t get a helping hand. This place is as rustic as it gets.
Now, as for WiFi…
To see more articles in this story, please click on the links below:
The Undiscovered Coast
Undiscovered Binh Thuan
The Paradise of Ninh Thuan
The Wildness of Con Dao
The Rocks of Phu Yen
The Beaches Around Quy Nhon
The Abandoned Church
The Other Side of Halong Bay
North of Cua Lo
The Islands off Phu Quoc
Where The Mekong Hits the Sea
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Jack Thursday, 10 September 2015 12:57 Comment Link
I think it should be green on the map. What you are displaying is actually the neighbouring Ninh Thuan.