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"You Slide?"

VIETNAM | Wednesday, 11 July 2007 | Views [734]

"You slide, sir, miss?" yell the little voices of girls and boys all running to us and surrounding our motor bike as Darrin slams on the breaks to avoid hitting the mob of children holding blue sheets of plastic. We are at the famous white sand dunes outside the town of Mui Ne.  The sun is scorching at 10:00 a.m. and the wind has picked up, howling and blowing sharp shards of sand across the surface of the road.  The kids shield themselves from the sand storm with their makeshift toboggans.  We start speaking with one little boy, maybe 10 years old, and the group kindly allows him to claim us as his clients.  "Where you from?  What your name?  You slide.  16,000 dong for one.”   “I be your guide," he says with a serious business face on, and takes Darrin by the hand to lead us through the pine forest, around the lake, and up to the dunes.  

This is what I expect the Sahara Desert might look like - white sand for as far as the eye can see.  The little boy cruises up ahead to join his buddy who's also roped in a new client.  The wind is blowing so hard that the boy, just a few meters ahead gets blurred in the sand blizzard, his footsteps disappearing.  Darrin and I look at each other, and wonder how far and where we'll be taken. Hopefully the kid is legit, and we can find our way back.  We cross several dunes and finally arrive at our sand-board launching point, where our guide has expeditiously set up our toboggans for us... plastic sheet laying pointing down the slope, a mound of sand onto to keep it on the ground in the wind as well as to provide added weight to propel our bodies head first down the slope.  I tell the boy he needs to go first to demonstrate.  in reality, it's so I can check and see how fast and steep the decline actually is.  It looked like a breeze and we were bummed they didn't have stand up boards to carve up the slope like a snowboard.  We had fun sampling steeper slopes across the range, and when we were up to our ears in sand, we decided to call it quits and headed back out to the road for our next point of discover, the "red canyon."  We pulled off alongside the road where a local Vietnamese moto driver was flagging us in, waving his arms to the left like a flight attendant going through an emergency evacuation drill.  The sky grew increasingly dark as the last remains of sun illuminated the red rock.  It was like being in a mini grand canyon, very surreal landscape amidst the ocean shore and dunes.

We powered our motor cycle around vast strips of white sand beach that looks identical to the roads leading Northeast around the tip of the Baja peninsula from San Jose Del Cabo.  A truly spectacular site, and we imagined, with all the great fishing villages off the coast here, how great of an idea opening a Baja style fish taco restaurant would be... they've got plenty of fish, corn to make tortillas, and avocados bigger than we've ever seen for guacamole.  with the local Vietnamese Beer Hoi to boot... it would be Baja taste, with Baja prices from 10 years ago.  I think we're onto something big here.  Despite not being able to "own" land as a foreigner here, we could be total castaways here for years, living off the fish taco stands and enjoying fine, uncrowded surf.

We approached another mass of children on our way back at the "red sand dunes" but by the look of the black clouds closing in on any remaining blue sky, we passed on the "sliding" opportunity and checked out the little fishing village just to the south, where we got stuck in the pouring rain with another local moto-fisherman.  We waited under a fishy smelling tarp until the rain passed.  A great day out on the road exploring the outskirts of Mui Ne and we were ready to call it a day.  Capped it off with a freshly steamed fish dinner at our family restaurant.  We will sleep well tonight.

Tags: The Great Outdoors


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