Sunday, April 13, 2008

Mui Ne

(PICTURE: The Sleeper Bus)

I'm sitting in a travel agency/internet shack in Mui Ne typing on a computer, circa 1985, that may actually be my family's Apple IIe with a Dell sticker taped on to it.

The lesson of this blog is that sometimes it pays to listen to the guide books. Yesterday I booked an "Open Tour" from Saigon to Hanoi. Basically, I paid $31 and can get on and off a bus from city to city. Lonely Planet suggested using a company called Sinh Cafe. I went over to the Sinh Cafe office and it was over flowing with Westerners. It just seemed like anyone with a guide book was here, booking their tickets. I grabbed a brochure and quickly skimmed through it. Moments earlier I had passed another travel agency called Hanh Cafe. Outside of the office was a brand new double-decker couch bus and each seat looked like it reclined into a bed. Inside the office were Asians, and Asians only. Being the adventurer/idiot I am, I decided to book an open tour with Hanh.

That night I told Hien about my decision and how the bus influenced my choice. I said how there were two overnight trips on the bus and I thought it would be much more comfortable sleeping on this luxury coach then the Sinh Cafe standard bus. Hien looked at me and said, "Those beds are made for Vietnamese people." Hien's words could not have been truer. Yesterday morning I boarded the bus and quickly realized two things:
1. The bus was not a double decker but merely a very tall bus with three rows of bunk beds.
2. I don't even come close to fitting into my chair. To recline, I have to basically lay with my knees straight in the air or my head hanging over the end of the chair onto the feet of the person sleeping behind me. Yes, this would be much easier to understand if I had a picture (which I have plenty of) but sadly my Apple IIe from 1985 doesn't have a USB port.

Five hours and multiple stiff muscles later the bus arrived in Mui Ne. This beach side resort is famous for its white sand dunes and gorgeous beaches. I had made a reservation at a Lonely Planet suggested hotel two days ago that is a bungalow right on the beach. I showed up at the hotel, towing all my bags for the first time in a month, and was told that there were no rooms availabe. To quote Seinfeld, "They know how to take the reservation but they don't know how to keep the reservation. Anyone can take a reservation. The hard part is to keep the reservation." The owner of the hotel suggested I go across the street and check into his hotel today. Luckily the guest house had rooms...which isn't that surprising since it's the ONLY hotel not on the beach.

That said, it's quite beautiful here despite a lot of garbage on the beach. I went swimming yesterday and saw this ominous white object swimming up to me. My first thought was that it was a large jellyfish. Turns out it was just a white plastic bag. I'm not sure which is worse.

Last night I went to a Vietnamese BBQ restaurant. It was delicious and it gave me a great opportunity to practice my new Vietnamese skills. Trang, my waitress, looked at me funny when I asked her, "Ban ten gli?" (what is your name minus the accent marks). I repeated it multiple times. Turns out I was asking the question correctly but she was confused since she was wearing a large name tag.

Off to the beach and then to the sand dunes later this afternoon.


P.S. The Bruins got screwed in Game 2 against Montreal. I'm a bitter fan 10,000 miles away.