It all began with a bus ride. A five hour bus ride, in fact, which covered about 120 miles and included several mimosas, sing alongs, wine bag pillows, and conversations on how dragon fruit grows.
Friday is National Day. We celebrated the seventy-first year of Vietnam's independence from French occupation, by renting a van and heading to Mui Ne, a beach town to the southeast of Saigon.
Upon arrival, we headed immediately into the sea. Americans refer to it as the South China Sea; here, it is usually known as the East Sea eliminating the existence of China.
We stayed at Joe's Seaside Bungalows. Our rooms were cozy brick bungalows with tiny porches and hot water (if you remembered to flip the switch) and breakfast. Comfortable, simple, and directly on the beach -- perfect for our weekend.
Breakfast included a pile of fresh fruit and mugs of thick, dark robusta coffee. When my dad visited, he noted how much the coffee in Vietnam tastes like chocolate. Since then, I cannot help but notice this. I cannot un-taste the chocolate.
After one of our breakfasts, we headed to the sand dunes, a fifteen minute motorbike ride away from our seaside bungalow. The sand here, piled high into the sky was a sweet marriage of the hues caramel and rust. The miles and piles of sand looked simply remarkable; illuminated by the sun, high in the sky, they looked like they were glowing.
The climb to the top was easier than it looked from the bottom and the view from the top spilled out across rolling sandy hills and the deep blue sea far below. We stayed and played for as long as we could stand the burning sun.
On the second morning, we watched the sunrise and went for a run. A long run.
We ran over six miles; our eagerness to be away from the city's crowded streets and polluted air drove us forward. Along the way, we admired the street art and the landscape.
And took a short break to check out the beginning of Suoi Tien, the Fairy Stream.
The stream, red from its clay bed, looks like chocolate milk. The stream can be followed to sand dunes and rock formations. Regrettably, we did not have the time to make this venture. An experience left for next time.
All too soon, the weekend came to a close and, tired but happy, we headed back to Ho Chi Minh City.
Happy National Day, Vietnam.