Our first beach vacation, ever

Pink drink umbrellas
Pink drink umbrellas | Photo by Lauren Girardin

First of 3 posts in a row by Todd. Boy’s on a roll!

When Lauren and I visited the islands of Greece back in 2006, we spent day after day exploring dramatic cliff-side monasteries and volcanic craters. Only on the last day of our nine day Greek vacation did we force ourselves to skip snorkeling and lounge on the black sands of Santorini. Even then, we couldn’t resist a small adventure, taking boat ride to try out the red sands on the other side of the shoal. Having traveled so far to get to a foreign country, we wanted to see stuff, not lay on the beach. We’re from Long Island, a place where large, crowded beaches line the long south shore, so we take beaches for granted.

Now, after six months of non-stop new experiences while traveling the world, we’ve finally taken our first real beach vacation on Mui Ne‘s beach in Vietnam, and we like it.

Fresh catch on Mui Ne's beach
Fresh catch on Mui Ne’s beach | Photo by Lauren Girardin

Here in Mui Ne, we’ve found a small, affordable hotel with pleasant grounds where we can sit in lounge chairs overlooking the South China Sea. When we get too hot, we alternate between taking a dip in the sea and paddling around the hotel’s swimming pool.

The hotel makes tasty drinks of lemon juice and sweetened condensed milk (tastes much better than it sounds), which we spike with some local rice vodka. While we sip our very Vietnamese cocktails, we watch fisherman haul in their catch from oddly shaped thatch boats, round like rice bowls. A couple of teenage anglers who have no boat float in an inner tube and pull in a half dozen small herring, which they allow Lauren to examine on the beach.

Kids cool off in Mui Ne's Fairy Stream
Kids cool off in Mui Ne’s Fairy Stream | Photo by Lauren Girardin

We also watch some of our fellow hotels guests, four generations of a Vietnamese family, play in the waves with childish delight. Picture a couple of grandmas wearing wide-brimmed hats and modest one-piece bathing suits. They hold hands and wade into the water where a wave knocks them down. They get up laughing hysterically then do it again. They continue this game for hours with no break in the laughter. They’re still giggling as they spend another twenty minutes trying to hose the sand out from under their suits.

For five days, we bask in Mui Ne’s fortuitous micro-climate. It’s pouring rain a few hours south in Saigon and we hear there’s a near typhoon in Nha Trang, but the weather is dry here. It just means we have stronger waves in sunny Mui Ne.

Fishing boat, Mui Ne, Vietnam
Fishing boat, Mui Ne, Vietnam | Photo by Lauren Girardin

We’re not completely immune to the lure of site-seeing here. We rent bikes to get to the “fairy stream” where, along with a couple hundred hyper local school kids, we wade through clear waters and ogle at the strange red and white rock formations. Later on, I enter my first poker tournament and would have won one million dong if one of the local kite-surfing teachers hadn’t knocked me out in the first round (he completes his straight with the river card).

Other than that, we stay on the beach. Everywhere else in this world, we’ve been traveling. Here in Mui Ne, we’re on vacation.

Photos from Mui Ne, Vietnam

If you can’t see the photo slide show above, view the photo set on Flickr.