Visa: It's Everywhere You Want To Be

Trip Start Oct 23, 2006
Trip End May 08, 2007

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Visa is everywhere you want to be. But Washington Mutual decided to switch all of its debit cards to Mastercard. Whatever. It's the same thing really. Except in Mui Ne, Vietnam.
Mui Ne is known for it's luxurious beaches, kite and wind surfing, and sand dunes. It's a resort town. I thought it would be a perfect spot for relaxation before heading to Saigon for the craziness of a huge city at New Year's Eve.
At first, all seemed well. We found nice lodging at a great price by avoiding the resorts and finding a small guesthouse. There was no AC or hot water, but we figured that neither would be necessary in the two days we'd be there. That assumption turned out to be right. But my hopes for a relaxing time weren't so spot on.
Before it became a resort town, Mui Ne was known for its fish sauce. Several places still produce their signature sauce, and you can smell the acrid stench everywhere. Jon and I ran past several production facilities in search of dinner our first night. Mui Ne only has one road, so we couldn't help but pass them. On that one road, among the seemingly endless string of resorts, is the town's only ATM. I was running low on cash, so we stopped. No dice. It said that WAMU's host computer was down for maintinence. Jon's card didn't work either. Then we found out that power to more than half the town was out, and internet was only working at the resorts with back-up generators.
I'm trying to do this in somewhat of a story form, but it doesn't suit my Mui Ne experience to do so. Quite simply, Mui Ne is the worst place I've been to on this trip. It held one awful surprise after another. The smell; the power always shutting off; the insanely high prices because American and European schmucks are walking around with girls they hired in Saigon and want to impress them by spending a lot of money. It was disgusting and sickening (which is also how I'd describe the food, regardless of where we ate).The beach was only 10 feet from the beginning of the sand to the surf. And it was constantly windy (which kept knocking the power out again and again) so you couldn't even enjoy that little bit of coarse sand. That damn ATM never worked for me, although it began to accept Visa cards. I was running out of cash, and the only places that accept credit cards (not that I want to use mine) are the insanely expensive resorts with the old pervo guys. That leads me to the only story about Mui Ne worth telling:
I found out that a town down the coast called Phan Thiet had at least a couple of banks. Jon and I rented bicycles to ride there. Only after we were a ways into the ride did we find out that the Phan Thiet is 26km away from Mui Ne. But that was no big deal. Even though I was on a crappy bike, I've riden much farther than that, and this was a very necessary trip if we were to pay for our room and transport out of Mui Ne. Jon and I tried 8 different ATMs from 8 different banks. None of them worked. Not with mastercard. We headed back for Mui Ne, still on the verge of being broke. Then my bicycle decided to commiserate. It broke too. The damn crank arm came off, and the chain too. I had to walk the remaining 24km back to town while pushing that heap of shit and with no money to buy any water.

Mui Ne messed up my chi. It licked the red off my lollipop. I was feeling fantastic after Christmas with the Quebecois, and that piece of shit tourist trap killed it. For the final blow, Mui Ne decided to give me some kind of stomach bug, food poisoning, or something. Let's just say that I'm currently depending heavily on my good friend Immodium.
I feel bad leaving things on such a sour note, so looking on the bright side:
I'm no longer in Mui Ne.
I'm feeling much better.
It's an excuse not to drink too much on New Years which no one will question.
Now that I'm in Saigon, prices are back to normal.
And despite how Mui Ne has made me feel, it did provide for some beautiful photos.
That should do as a positive counterbalance. Happy New Year everyone!
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parents2 on

Holiday Bugs
It happens to the best of us. Hope the city of Saigon proves to be the cure and you are back on track for good travels and food. After all, its a new year!

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