Day 8 – Mui Ne to Nha Trang

The bus from Mui Ne to my next destionation – Nha Trang – only comes at around noon or really early in the morning. Since I had my scooter for 24 hours I felt like I should make the most of it, as I still had a decent amount of petrol left. Mui Ne actually doesn’t have much to offer apart from what I saw yesterday, and this doesn’t seem to be the windsurfing season as I didn’t see anyone doing it. Good thing this place had one more thing to offer, one that was a purely morning activity too. I read about a fish market just outside the actual town of Mui Ne (not the beach where tourists stays), where fisherman venture out at dawn in their traditional bamboo basket boats, and in the morning their wives set up around the beach to sell their catches.

I think you have to go REALLY early if you wanted to see the basket boats in action, which is quite unique as they are a circular in shape and basically only fits one person. I got there around 9 am and the activity has mostly died down.

Most of the men were gone, probably gone home for a well deserved rest, while a few remained to pack up their fishing supplies.

However, you can still take a look at the catches available, kept in very basic conditions but probably as fresh as you can get. There weren’t many tourists here, only like 2 groups aside from myself, so you can actually see locals buying their lunch & dinner here, mostly a variety of fish, squid and lobsters.

Not the most exciting, but if you find yourself having nothing to do in Mui Ne in the morning and you have a scooter for whatever reason, come check it out. On the way back, not far from the fish market, is a local market that was in contrast bustling with action, as this is probably the time locals gather to do their shopping for the day.

The market has a strong traditional Asian market feel to it, colourful and chaotic, definitely fits what I had in mind. It’s split into 3 sections, the front section when you first enter are the food stalls, selling all kind of snack and noodles. The 3rd picture shows banh xeo, a type of pancake flexible in its fillings. However, the vast amount of bean sprouts in them put me off.

Instead I found a small noodle stand and pointed to the giant pots of soup broth on standby to make my order (no idea what it is).

She scoops up some noodles, dip it for a few seconds in the giant soup container to cook them and serves it with some pork on the bones. Quick and easy, not to mention a bargain at 15k dong or barely $1, but a prime candidate for food poisoning!

She also does takeaway pho! Never seen that before lol. Hope that bag doesn’t get poked.

The middle section of the market is for fruits and veggies, yeah didn’t spend long here.

The back section of the market is for seafood, presumably sourced from the fish market I just came back from. Except here you can see them prepare the seafood for their customers, which can be a little disturbing if you’re not used to it. The woman cleaning out the jet black ink from a bunch of squid was a bit weird.

I was also still kind of hungry since the bowl of noodles weren’t that big, so I picked up another pork roll for later. This time it’s filled with roast pork and an egg (sorry for bad quality).

By the time I ride back to my hostel, it was still a bit early. So I went down to the Ham Tien beach to chill and eat my pork roll for the first time, even though it’s literally right outside my hostel this whole time. This is much more beach-like than the crappy one at Can Gio.

I return back to the hostel around 11 am, and was still a bit hungry…Knowing that the bus will take 4-5 hours to reach Nha Trang, I decided to get some more food to prepare myself for the journey (even though I’d just be sleeping the whole way there). However, since I turned my scooter in I couldn’t go too far, so I just got a bowl of pho at the hostel restaurant.

I’ve been told by numerous people back in Sydney that the pho taste not as good in Vietnam due to the superior quality of beef in Australia. I don’t know if it was that or the fact that it was the hostel restaurant, or both, but this was a unspectacular bowl of pho. Probably the worst meal I’ve had in Vietnam so far, worse than the pork chop and rice I got next to the Red Sand Dunes yesterday.

Then at noon, a bunch of us went down to the main road to wait for our buses. One by one buses came and picked up a few travelers, off to their next destination. It was almost an hour after 12 pm that someone came to pick up those bound for Nha Trang. Except it wasn’t a bus, it was a jeep…

I really hoped this wasn’t gonna be the mode of transportation for next 5 hours. Luckily after 10 minutes they dropped us off at a small restaurant/tour operator, telling us the bus is late so they gathered everyone along the beach waiting for the bus here, so when it finally it can just pick all of us up. It’d be another hour before the actual bus came…oh well it’s Vietnam, be prepared for things like this.

*************************************************************************************

By the time I woke up, I was no longer in a sleepy little town but back in the chaos that is Vietnamese metro traffic. The bus dumped us at the side of a road, and I was able to use the GPS function on my phone to navigate my way to my hostel – Mojzo Dorm. As I walked in, there was two guys exchanging travel tips in the small reception area. I barely had a time to catch my breath and checked in, but I noticed one of the guys seemed to be giving some solid tips to the other guy before taking his leave, so I took my chance and asked the other guy what he’s up to. Turns out he now knows the location of a stretch of restaurants along the water that’s famous for seafood, and he is just about to make his way there on his motorcycle. Yes, a real motorcycle, not a scrubby scooter. Then he asked if I want to come along, since he has room for one more on his motorcycle.

If I learnt anything as a backpacker, it’s when an opportunity presents itself, just take it and see where it leads you. It might be good or it might be disastrous, but you’ll always end up with a story to tell.

Remember that quote for when I become famous in the future 😉

So I left my big backpack with the receptionist (haven’t even seen my room yet), and jumped on the back of his motorcycle as he introduced himself as Ali. He’s literally making his way to another city that night, so there’s no time to spare. And no time was spared. In all my life there’s a few times where I could truly and correctly use the term “speed demon”. First time was when my housemate asked if I want to go for a spin in his new car that was like modded or whatever. This was probably worse, since on a motorcycle you experience the full realisation of your speed relative to those around you without the protection of the car body…

This man had no fear (or was extremely stupid) and zoomed past all the other vehicles on the road. He barely slowed down to navigate the chaotic traffic on the roads, as this picture may give you some hints to what I had to put up with. You could truly feel the difference in power of a real motorcycle to a regular scooter. “Have you rode a motorcycle before?” I asked.

“Nope”

Well shit.

After about a solid 10 minute ride, we miraculously arrived at the destination. Not really sure where this is to be honest, as I haven’t had time to familiarise myself with the city yet. Nha Trang is a coastal city in central Vietnam, and similar to Mui Ne the main road (one we were just on) runs alongside the beach. For reference, my hostel is in the central downtown area of Nha Trang, while this stretch of restaurant is further up north, past this big bridge that shouldn’t be hard to miss as it’s colourfully lit up at night.

Along the street there’s about a dozen multi-story seafood restaurants and all were quite lively, so we decided to just randomly pick one. Neither of us spoke any Vietnamese at all, but luckily they had a Chinese menu so I could do the ordering. He basically just pointed at random stuff in the tank that he wanted and I found the corresponding item in the Chinese menu.

We got a bunch of dishes to share, including squid, oysters, sea snails and seafood fried rice. I regret getting those sea snails, as their opening is so thin I broke so many toothpicks trying to pry the meat out. Was NOT worth the effort. Make sure you point to the sea shells that have a wide opening if you don’t wanna spend half your time trying to access the meat.

Over dinner we finally had a chance to introduce ourselves a little more. Ali is a medicine student from England who just finished his degree, so he’s on a long trip around Asia before he has to start his internship/residency. To be honest I don’t remember much of our conversation, mostly sharing our experiences in Vietnam and back in our own country, but he was a pretty sick dude. No puns intended.

The meal wasn’t cheap though, I think it ended up being close to $20 per person, and that’s with us clearly holding back our appetite. Thus we decided to stop by a local street food stall and get some of those banh xeo pancakes I saw the other day, but this time made with quail egg and squid for $1 each.

We both share the same sentiment that food, especially in Asia, is best enjoyed from stalls like these. In fact he enjoyed it so much he got another one.

As we were about to live, a man pulls up with a cart with various stuff and asked Ali if he want some. He probably saw a tourist trap opportunity, not hard to spot the only brown dude in like a 5km radius. He wanted to buy a packet of tissue to clean his hands, but balked when the peddler quoted something like 3 dollars for a tiny packet. But it was too late, and after some more hustling he gave in and paid up, the face of regretful acceptance is all to clear here.

“Sigh”

I always enjoy meeting other traveler, especially backpackers who are more like-minded. And now I have another friend around the world 🙂

Yeah shit photo soz.

Ali dropped me off at the hostel before continuing his motorcycle adventure to Dalat, which is a city numerous people have told me to visit but I had to pass it up. It’s known for its natural scenery but honestly when I researched there weren’t much else to do. Plus I don’t think I’m ready to use motorcycle as my main mode of transportation 😦

The night being still fairly young and since I just slept for 5 hours. I ventured back out to the main strip of the city, which is amazingly lively and filled with young people. There’s a night market under 10 minutes walk from the hostel which had a great variety of desserts, most of which were too adventurous for me to try out as I’m not a sweet tooth.

There was also a sports bar that seemed to be the most popular in town as it was super packed with locals. Wanted to go in and watch some sports but immediately it had a blackout and a mass exodus, as the temperature inside swelled.

So instead I walked across the road to the beach, where a lot of people are chilling next to the nice sea breeze. Yeah my photos totally suck under low light.

On the way back to my hostel, I walked past a juice bar and spotted this super adorable pupper. It was one of the staff’s and gotta say 10/10 marketing as I bought a drink just so I could play with it for a while.

Cutest pupper everrrrrr

So smol

Although just as I got up to leave it peed on the table creating a big mess for the staff, so yeh uh no thanks.

And that wraps up another day. It feels nice to be back in a proper city.

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