. "Hello, Mr Danny, where you go today?". "To the post office Batman." That is really his name. He has Batman stickers on his moto and showed me the one on his lighter as well. I almost felt Vietnamese riding around on the moto with my arms full of stuff, just like everyone else. They can fit just about anything on these little things. We have seen 3 large dead pigs on the back, bunches of chickens (dead also), and carpet, mattresses and up to 5 people. But I digress. So there I was with Batman off to the post office, running red lights the whole way there. Like I may have said before, I am not sure there are traffic rules here just traffic suggestions. So after a bunch of paperwork (addresses, customs forms, and the like) I was done and ready to send. Since air mail was 4 times as expensive as surface mail (read: boat), I went with surface. I was told it will be 2 to 3 months minimum so there is a fair chance we will beat the packages home. Of course Batman is diligently waiting for me outside when I am done. Back to where our hotel is. I am on the lookout for Amy so Batman can let me off, but he spots her first. "Lady there", he says as he swerves the moto to the side of the road while dodging a old lady, narrowly missing a roving dog, and cutting off a loudly honking taxi. All that excitement is included in the dollar ride price. So we bid adieu to our super hero and await the ride to the beach. The bus leaves right on time and we have good seats. This bus is probably the nicest we have been on
. With air conditioning and reclining seats it is a real treat. Since our ride up the length of 'Nam is all with this company we think it will be like this the whole way. Happy happy Joy Joy. We get to Mui Ne at midnight and our hotel proprietor is waiting at the gate for us. We had our guy at the hotel phone ahead to reserve us a room. Amy picked this place out of the guide book and it was a good pick. Walking to the room in complete darkness we can hear the sound of the waves breaking just 100 ft from our front door. Once again we can see the sea from our bungalow patio, that is 3 out of 3 if you are keeping track. Down to the beach for a quick stroll before bed to check out the beach and stars before bed. First thing in the morning we go for a beach walk to see the local area. This beach is massive. It must be about 8 or 10 miles long so we don't walk the length of it. Back to the bungalow and we rent a moto for a drive around. Through the fishing port of Mui Ne (see pictures) and check out the local fishing fleet. Hundreds and hundreds of the same looking boats floating peacefully after the morning out on the water. A little farther down the road we encounter the sand dunes. As we park the moto we are besieged by little kids wanting to take us sand sledding. So we take the five that are nearest to us and off we go. I think they are trying to be nice by telling me how young and handsome I am, but it is strange none the less. Same thing with Amy. They are touching her hair and saying, "You young, you pretty"
. I told her I think they are asking her out. So off over the blazing hot sand to the crest of the tallest dune. They have about 2 sleds among the 5 of them so having one at the ready is no problem. I went first. The only advice I could give Amy when I got back to the top was to keep your mouth and eyes closed. After a couple of runs we are covered with sand sticking to our very sweaty bodies. Pay the kids and back to the bungalow for a much needed shower. It takes a while as the sand doesn't immediately want to be disposed of that easily. Rest, dinner and bed. The next day we are intrigued by all of the kite boards and check into doing that. I figure we can go right at it but upon further review it seems tricky. So we go get some lessons. Since the afternoon winds have picked up they agree to start us off but say we need to come back in the am for a proper session. So Amy, Armando, and I start off with the basics and the small kite. He explains the terminology and shows us how to pilot the kite. How hard can this be? Just flying a kite. Wrong. Once he hands me the kite it takes me a full 4 seconds to drive the kite into the pounding surf. Really glad we got lessons now. After a few minutes I get the hang of it then it is Amy's turn. Same thing. Like a aircraft on a kamikaze dive the kite drives itself into the sand with a ferocious impact. After a couple of hours we have the basics down and can keep the kite aloft as well as keep it in one spot where we want it to be. We agree to meet again at 9:30 to start again, this time with a big kite
. So 9:30 arrives and we are ready, or so we think, for the days activities. Inflate the kite which is 8 meters long. Now we have a harness, helmet, and life vest. Armando gives us the basic instructions again and off we go. This kite has many more controls. The control bar goes up and down, tilts right and left, as well as moving in and out. Imagine holding a stick and moving it from your chest to your eyes (up and down), pulling your left down as your right arm goes up (tilt), and pushing your left arm out as your right arm comes in (in and out). Each one serves a function which we will learn in due time. After some example flying by Armando I am given the kite. Kamikaze again. This kite is strong! More that once it lifted me off the ground. We get control of this one and then it is time for us to learn to let the kite drag us out to sea. Crash again, and again. Luckily we have learned the water re launch which is successful for both of us. We each do a good job of going out and coming back to shore using the kite as our means of locomotion. Armando goes out with us for the first few times. Just goes to show you the strength of the kite that it can drag 3 people through the rough swells of the South China Sea no problem. Every now and again when Amy or I are alone out in the water the kite picks us up and dumps us none too gently back into the water. But success! We manage to keep the kite aloft. Break for a afternoon snack and back out. The wind is really going now that it is the afternoon
. When we started the day the wind was 8 knots and now it is moving at 22. Armando seems confident that we can now practice on our own. Amy is to go first. We get the kite up no problem, with this amount of wind how can you not. Then the wind really picks up. The kite swoops forward into the power zone and off goes Amy. I go running after her and the kite as she is torpedoing along the beach out of control. Other kiters and I stop the kite and her. All is well but we are both a bit shaken. We both decide that we are tired and have learned all that we can for the day. Disgression is the better part of valor. But we agree to be there again at 9:30 tomorrow for the next lesson of getting on the board and actually going. Needless to say it was an early night to bed with a very deep sleep. We arose and went down for our next lesson. After our breakfast next door we decided that we were too tired for our lesson today. Feeling sore, especially Amy, and sunburned we decided to postpone our lesson until tomorrow. So today has been a day of relaxing in the hammock, reading and the occasional dip into the sea. We are excited to continue our lessons as we understand that you can kite surf all the way up the coast of 'Nam at other places we are going to. So we will keep you informed. Keep checking our old entries as we are always adding pictures when we find a place with a good connection. Stay well and keep in touch. We love hearing from any and all of you.
D n A
At Mui Ne beach now which is about 200 miles NE of Saigon. We took the 8 pm bus out of HCMC on Feb 17th. We had a whole day to kill before the bus left so Amy, and to a lesser (much lesser) extent me, spent the day shopping. We bought all manner of handmade wares and gifts for you dilligient readers. Amy even had a traditional Ao Dai made for herself. That is the traditional dress worn here by the women. It is a long sleeved floor length tunic with slits up to the waist. Under that is a set of pants. Looking at them at 10 in the morning she didn't figure she would buy one. Tried on a few but the Vietnamese are a slightly smaller size than us Westerners. So of course they can make one for you. Amy said we were leaving at 4 pm just to get her off her back and the lady assured her that it would be done by then. So while I had my back turned she put a down payment for it of 100,000. Shortly after, I was busy reading the package to take to the post office to send home. I had been using the same moto driver for the whole time in Saigon and lo and behold there he was again waiting for me