After my bike trip to Myanmar, I moved to Vietnam and explored the country while also working. During my first trip alone I had only visited and volunteered in Ho Chi Minh, so the second place I’m exploring in this wonderful country is Mui Ne. I traveled to Mui Ne with friends which doubled the fun as one of them was used to hitchhike. She is Lenka, a Slovak girl and you can also follow her adventures on her Instagram: @lenka.daisy
Hitchhiking was something I was always afraid of, being a solo female traveler, but was curious to do. I think I will never do it alone here in Asia, because of the associated risks and because I would not feel comfortable, but with the right company, the story is different. And in Vietnam, I found the right company, so this is where I had my first experience as a hitchhiker.
It was actually so easy and safe that I did it twice, and it was in Mui Ne. The bus from Ho Chi Minh to Mui Ne takes about 5 hours and it’s done on a sleeping bus, so it is pretty comfy. I don’t know much about this destination, but I’m excited about the sand dunes.
I’m in Mui Ne, Vietnam, with two more friends I made while I’m here. One of them is already experienced in these hitchhiker’s wanderings, so we tried our luck. We stayed in a hostel far from the tourist center and to get there we need to go by bus that doesn’t work these days. And it doesn’t work because it’s Chinese New Year, Tết in Vietnam. During this time things work abnormally, so the bus.
We hit the road in a heat of over 30º with our thumbs up and hoping someone would give us a quick ride. It’s funny to see the reaction of motorcyclists who wave but don’t stop. Fortunately, we only walk about 10 minutes until a vehicle flashes and slows down. We celebrate the moment with a lot of euphorias and then went to see who stopped and if we like it. It was a family who was traveling in Mui Ne to visit family members. At this time of year, many families head for their homeland, which is usually in the province, so the city of Ho Chi Minh is empty.
This family was super friendly, we had a good conversation during the journey of about 15 minutes. They told us it was the second time they had given a ride to foreigners this very day and they seemed so happy about it. This is the first day of the new year of the Pig and the superstitious say that what happens on this day will be repeated more often during the year.
Finally, we arrived at our destination, the fishing village of Mui Ne, where we say goodbye, thank you for the ride and abandon the car to explore the area. It is a cozy village where there is not much else to do than take a picture of all the boats that spread across the sea. A very nice view, but very smelly, since I do not appreciate the smell of fish.
As we know nothing more to do touristy in this area, we walked the streets of the village which is very welcoming and friendly. Here greetings to the villagers become constant. I like this type of places so much, where people smile at you with admiration because they clearly don’t see many outsiders. We visited a very charming temple: Linh Long, that stands in the middle of the village houses and decided to explore the small streets along the coast.
I’m thankful we did it because the moments that came later were hilarious. There was, as usual in Vietnam, a family in his house singing karaoke while snacking. As soon as they see us, they immediately invite us to their home. There are about 6 men sitting on the floor in a circle with snacks in the middle and a lot of flies around. Soooo many flies in that food! Still, they were so friendly that we had to try some delicacies as the men tried to serve the food to our mouth. Also, there were two ladies, but it was interesting to observe how they did not drink or eat or sing like them.
The funniest thing about the experience is that they don’t speak English, so it was over an hour exchanging smiles, toasting and even getting us to sing karaoke. It was hilarious. It is also very funny to see how they recognize countries by football players. As soon as I say that I am from Portugal, the name Ronaldo does not fail, I think they like him very much for the shrill reactions. As for the two friends who were with me, they only knew where they were from after they said the name of a famous player from their country. This is because I can say Portugal in Vietnamese and they couldn’t tell their country in the local language, so that’s how they identified where they were from. Trying to communicate when you don’t speak the same language is a challenge that turns out to be very funny.
We ended up seeing the sunset with one of those guys as their home was 2 minutes away from the beach. The people of the surrounding houses were very curious about our presence! And this is how we spent the Vietnamese New Year, celebrating with locals!
On the way back it was already dark and hitchhiking wasn’t that easy so we ended up taking a taxi back to our Hostel. A weird taxi driver that for no apparent reason started to ask us for the money in the middle of the journey. Of course, we only paid once at the destination otherwise he could just drop us somewhere. It was weird…
On the next day, we will visit the white sand dunes of Mui Ne that look awesome!