As excited as we were about being at the sea finally, Anne and me had set the alarm for 4:45 am to go for a sunrise swim. Actually with the party the night before, that were only four hours of sleep, but we both really wanted to enjoy a quiet morning. So we hauled ourselves out of bed on time, and went down to a beach to a not very spectacular sunrise and a very calm sea – no waves, and one could see the hundreds of little round nutshell fishing boats on the horizon. shaking off the drowsy feeling we got into the warm calm water. Anne was ahead of me, so I swam along the beach for a while, and upon turning back I saw she had gotten out of the water. Then I felt a slight tingling burning on my arm and leg, and just had one thought – jellyfish. So I swam quickly to the beach to get out of the water, and saw that Anne had been stung as well – the evil little jellies had nettled her around the neck and across the chest. So that was the end of our swimming ambitions, and since we both felt extremely tired and a bit hung over we went back to get some sleep.

We got up around 12, feeling slightly more refreshed, but still had to face the noon heat – not so great for the circulation, we both felt a bit woozy. We joined Slawa and Thom down at the beach, where we had a watermelon breakfast and made plans for the day. As there was not enough wind for kite surfing, we decided to get a jeep to go to the Mui Ne white sand dunes a couple of kilometers from Mui Ne town. we would go at 3 pm, so Anne and me bridged the time looking for some new flip flops for her. Her old ones had been losing the toe grip a couple of times by now, and we had seen some good ones at the Ripcurl store. On the way there one of the flip flops finally gave up completely, and Anne barely made it to the store. She picked a pair which were actually reduced in price, but the girls charged her full price, and removed the reduced price tag. Anne went back to ask about it, but the girls acted as if the didn’t understand, or maybe they really didn’t, but anyway it leaves a really bad feeling to have the idea that you were cheated and taken advantage of. Not for the last time I wished I knew some Vietnamese. But, another occasion to make use of our journey’s motto – Don’t miss it.

We spent the rest of the time at the café, Slava joined us, and soon it was time to leave for the dunes. Our jeep picked us up on time, and we enjoyed a very bumpy ride through Mui Ne town, first to the fishing harbour where we could have a closer look at the small round fishing boats that we had seen in the distance as little lights during the night and as small nutshells in the morning. The boats were very curious – basically just a round hard plastic round dish, no motor, no bench, nothing. That’s why they needed towing from other boats that have a motor, we had seen little chains of these boats one after the other being towed off in the morning. Too soon our driver called to continue, and we had another 25 minutes of bumpy ride on the back of the jeep to the dunes. On the way we passed a couple of other dunes in different colours, always wondering which ones were the Mui Ne white sand dunes, and which ones the red or yellow dunes.

As the dunes came up on the horizon after passing on to a dirt road it was quite evident from the colour that these were the white sand dunes – they practically glowed reflecting the afternoon sun. At a parking lot/café at the entrance we got off and went for a walk – we didn’t really feel like spending much money on either a sledge or a quad – Anne and Slava discarded the idea after some discussion, and I preferred walking anyway, better for taking pictures. So we walked around, climbing a couple of dunes and getting away from the mass of the tourists. The dunes make for an amazing landscape, especially since there was a thunderstorm brewing on the horizon, and the slate-grey clouds made a great background to the glaring white dunes. After a while sitting out on top of a dune dusk approached, and we started the hike back. Getting down one of the big dunes Slava decided to tr swimming down on his stomach, it actually looked really fun, and apparently it was since he climbed back up right away to record a video of it. Anne and me waited on the next dune, surveying the green forest that stretched out below us. With the setting sun the whole scenery reminded us of The Lion King. Now really on the way back, with the thunderstorm behind us, we climbed the last big dune and were close to the more crowded area, as was evident by the huge amount of trash lying around – empty bottles and can, shreds of the plastic sand sleighs, empty bags from crisps and snacks – Asian people are not really big on keeping their surroundings clean, we noticed not for the last time. It’s quite a shame to leave so much trash, and at some point Slava started picking up the empty bottles and any trash that we came upon. Anne and me joined him, soon we had our hands full as well – in my case just one hand because I still had my camera on my right hand. As we passed a group of Asian, probably Chinese tourist – a family as it turned out – one of the girls stopped me to ask if her mother could take a picture with me. This was a very surreal situation – it is quite normal as a western person while traveling in Asia to be asked to have a picture taken with random strangers, but this middle-aged woman apparently didn’t mind taking a picture with a sweat-soaked, dirty girl with her hands full of camera and trash. It felt really weird.

Getting back to the parking lot we got rid of our trash and got on our jeep. Looking back we could enjoy a couple of nice lightnings on the vast cloudy sky, very dramatic. Our driver was a bit pissed because we were so late, and he went really fast – the way back felt like 20 minutes in total. We went out straight away to have some food, not bothering to shower first – we were way too hungry. We picked one of the many eating places where a couple of people were already eating – seemed better than the empty places – and here I had my first try at a crab, sharing with Slava. It turned out delicious, but it will probably stay my last – I’m not a huge fan of seafood anyway, and it was just way too much effort to get the meat out of the crab. And my fingers smelled of it for hours afterwards, even after washing them several times with soap. But it was good to give it a try.

After dinner there was still a lot of time til our bus up north would leave. Anne and me had checked out of our room in the morning since we wanted to travel further north at night, so we were very happy that Slava let us use his room as a luggage storage, and that we could take a shower. Getting off all the sand and dirt felt so good. Refreshed we just went out into the garden on the beach, with some drinks and fruit, and first spent some time checking the pictures of the day, and then just talking, having a really good conversation on what’s important in life, one of those rather deep conversations that are feel like a gift when you encounter them. It felt 1am and our bus came on way too soon. One of the things about traveling is meeting people you like and then say goodbye really soon – another thing to say “Don’t miss it”, rather be happy for the good times. And off we went to our next adventure, a short pit stop during the day in Na Thrang, and then at night straight on up north to Hoi An – we wanted to get to Cat Ba island as soon as possible, to enjoy some relaxing time kayaking and climbing, and we wanted to keep the cities on the way there rather short.