Leaving it all behind to explore the world together
From Pine Trees to Palm Trees – Dalat and Mui Ne, Vietnam
Note: This post is a little out of order chronologically with our recent bus-related post. The content from this one took place before we arrived in Saigon. It just took us a little while to get around to putting it together and posting it online.
Vietnam is HOT! And as have worked our way south, the temperature has only gone up. So we were really excited to head to Dalat, a town in the central highlands about 5 hours north of Saigon (Ho Chi Min City). At an elevation of around 1500m, the weather promised a break from the intense heat of the coastal regions where we have spent most of our time so far.
It turns out that it is currently rainy season in Dalat. This means the mornings are lovely weather, then right around lunch time the skies open up for the afternoon. After dinner the rain subsides but the humidity remains high. 16 degrees C with 95% humidity is a strange feeling.
Despite the risk of rain, we rented a scooter to head about 25km out of town to visit a tea plantation. As you may know, Doug is addicted to tea and Emily has been known to enjoy a cup or two as well.
Unfortunately, none of our clothes were going to dry in Dalat. Our $9/night hotel room had no heat, and it was just too humid outside. So we decided to head back into the heat. We hopped a quick Air Asia discount flight over to the Sahara desert, where our clothes were sure to dry out.
It turns out you don’t need to go to the Sahara to find huge sand dunes. These are the aptly named White Dunes, located about 25km north of the town of Mui Ne, on the southern coast of Vietnam. We had no idea such a tropical country could have such a desert landscape.
We rented a scooter to drive to the White Dunes, rather than go on an organized tour. Apparently we got lucky, because the local police had a “tourist trap” set up somewhere along the road. We met some English guys who got pulled over for driving without a Vietnamese license (the International Drivers License is not recognized here). They were initially fined 1.2 million dong, or about $72 CAD. The police also threatened to impound their rental scooter. However, the guys were able to negotiate it down to a 500,000 dong fine ($30 CAD) and they could ride the scooter back to town. Police who are willing to negotiate? We can safely bet that money didn’t go into the town’s coffers.
Finally, the reason most people come to Mui Ne – the beach. We wanted more time to enjoy the beach, but this weekend is Vietnam’s national holiday for their Liberation/Independence Day. It celebrates their victory in the American War. This means that everyone leaves the big cities and heads to the coast for the weekend. It also means that there is no accommodation whatsoever, as it has been booked up well in advance. So we, along with all the other backpackers in town, headed on a bus and made our way out of town.
Doug and Emily / April 30, 2017 / Saigon, Vietnam @ Madam Cuc 184 Hotel at 6:02pm