Motorbike Escape From Deathtrap Coastal Highway – In Pictures

Ok, “Deathtrap Highway” might be a little extreme, but Highway 1A is really quite terrifying.  Highway 1D back near Quy Nhon was one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever taken, but 1A usually just involves lots of buses and trucks running me off the road in dire danger of falling into deep concrete ditches.  And that’s just when I’m riding on the shoulder.  The actual road is so run over by heavy vehicles that there are foot deep grooves making it feel like you’re riding between two deep speed bumps that you have to cross every time you change lanes.  Terrifying stuff.  It’s supposed to follow the coast but I’ve found getting off of it as much as possible to the actual coastal roads is definitely preferred.

Much better. These little roads can be hard to find, as they’re usually random turns off of the huge highway with signs only going one way.  Totally worth it to ride on generally much better roads though.

This time following the coast more led me to the tourist trap and water action sport capital of Vietnam, Mui Ne.  I got here during the not windy season though, so it was an eerie ghost town like resort town.  I think there are more resorts than people at this point.  Perfect, just how I like my resort towns, not full of touts selling me crap and tourists.

I passed the “famous” red and white sand dunes on the way into town. I wish there was somewhere to stop closer to the white dunes than where I took this, with a beautiful view of a lotus lake, wind swept trees, and forlorn green island on the sea.

The red dunes was the only place in Mui Ne covered in tourists.  I passed on the lame looking sledding where people could barely move.  The Vietnamese tourists all stay in nearby Phan Thiet.

Mui Ne is a small fishing village nearby the bigger provincial capital Phan Thiet.  Both produce fish sauce that I smelled for the last few days of riding. The smell of sun rotting fish is less delectable when it’s perfuming the air and not flavoring your food.

Shipyard from back in Ca Na. This whole stretch of coast is pocked in bright blue fishing ships that look like this.

Mui Ne resort area is actually Ham Tien village along the water.  I can’t say I’m a huge fan of a whole strip of resorts removing the locals and not giving public access to the water. Much like the Vietnamese, I think I prefer Phan Thiet with its public beaches and parks, restaurants, and less tourist town focus.  There is more interesting stuff inbetween the two and in Phan Thiet.

I’ve heard about how the Vietnamese revere the whale and have elaborate burial ceremonies for the beached specimens they worship as gods.  I found a temple in Phan Thiet (Van Thuy Tu) which claims Southeast Asia’s biggest whale skeleton (22 meters/66 feet) and has a shrine in front of a whole room full of whale bones!  I hear the temple is often closed for various reasons and indeed I thought it was when I arrived.  They were under heavy construction and the whale skeleton was under a tarp.  A construction worker happily showed me around before handing me off to an old dude in what looked like his pajamas smoking.  This guy talked my ear off not realizing I didn’t understand a single word but I enjoyed his enthusiasm.  He handed me some incense and beat a huge gong like drum for me as I prayed to the whales.  I’m not usually a temple person but I did enjoy this one.  While Vietnamese will eat just about any animal unfortunate to wander into their sight, they will not eat whales because they are sacred.  I’m surprised any creature in Asia is sacred enough to avoid that fate!

After weeks of sunshine in the rainy season, the clouds caught up. That’s one way to keep junior dry. Better than the other guy who covered his front lights with his poncho.

I ran into another Cham ruin, Po Sah Inu, overlooking a typical pastel candy colored cemetery. They sure know how to pick beautiful hilltop locations! Like a Champa! Har har har (the other name for Cham people).

A mix of the long past (Cham tower), the recent past (graves from what I assume is the war), and a gaudy present (pink triangle of the victory monument).

This site, like some of the ones I’ve visited, are still used for festivals. The local tourism department is also running weekend shows here to encourage cultural learning. Looks almost like a snake charmer!

The moves weren’t the best but it was fun to see their garb and stuff on their head. As Vietnam moves into the 21st century, this will be the last bastion of their culture. I’ll sit through a talent show like presentation to mostly tour buses to preserve that.  I like that young people are involved and the singing isn’t screechy like much of Asian traditional singing.

The view of Phan Thiet from the ruin site next to an old ruined French palace. I foolishly showed up as a storm started and had the site to myself for an hour but couldn’t take pictures due to low visibility.

One of the reasons I moved on to Mui Ne was to get to blander resort and foreign food. I thought it would help my tummy. Instead it just upset my morale and I quickly moved back to things like this deconstructed stingray spring roll set. Take that, stomach problems that persist!  I assume it was stingray, that’s what the picture in the menu looked like. The fish came whole and the flesh was soft and delicious

After the rain at dinner on the beach, I caught the moon rise as the sun set. I may never catch a sunrise over the ocean as it is too cloudy, but I’ll take a beautiful moonrise!

I’m glad I showed up in low season.  The rain ruined my laying out on the beach, but I imagine the sand flies that have already bitten me silly would’ve done the same.  I do enjoy being in resort towns (Vietnamese or foreign) as I feel like I can be in a bikini safely.  The low season lack of people on the beach and generally around is nice too, if a little empty.  I have to wonder why the nightclub next door still blasts music on the weekends til 1 AM though.  Alas, I have finished exploring and eating here and will be moving quickly to Saigon and the Mekong Delta now.  Onwards and away from the beach!


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