Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Vietnam 2016 Day 7. Mui Ne to (almost) Ho Chi Minh City

I take back what I said about Mui Ne yesterday. It is actually a good size town that extends mostly beyond the place I stayed, and seems to have a goodly number of shops and places to eat. I took advantage of one of the latter to have an exotic breakfast of sautéed frog and fruits of the season.

I followed the coast to Mount Be, where I took a detour to surround the mountain. I had heard there was a temple up there with a monumental statue of a reclining Buddha, but the few roofs I saw were way up there. Imagine my pleasant surprise when quite a distance away I saw a Visitors Center with a funicular! I gladly paid the fee of US$ 9, got on the funicular and quite enjoyed the ride up nearly 1,000 m. Once I got there, I was disappointed to see the temple was still in construction (with modern concrete and rebar). There were a couple of side prayer areas with some nice statues, but I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that everything was way too recent to really count as a tourist sight. I did go up to see the reclining Buddha, which at 49 meters (150 ft) long is indeed impressive. This is the image of Buddha after reaching Nirvana, and his face totally reflects the peace of mind he had reached. The Buddha was designed in the 1950’s and was actually built in the 60’s, and I am going to guess it is made out of concrete. Again, a bit recent to my taste.

By the time I got down from the mountain it was already 1:30 pm, and I had a lot of ground to cover, so I pressed my scooter to its top speed (around 30 miles per hour) and started devouring miles. My high speed experience was marred by this car that I swear was going about 25 mph in the open road! So I pass him, right? Ah, then he figures he has to speed up, just enough to pass me, and then slows down. I am of course fuming, so I pass him again, and … Let’s just say that after an hour of this game I was ready to scream.

The road along the coast is very pretty, and I can only wish I had more time to poke along it, but I have to be at the Saigon Airport at 8 am tomorrow, and the coast is just a bit far to cover the distance in the morning. I thus decided to go find a hotel somewhere within 40 km from Saigon. I had chosen a small road from the coast to Saigon, figuring it would be a quiet way to get to the city. Ha! It was the road from hell! Big loud trucks spewing diesel fumes, enormous buses careening between lanes and blasting their horns, the odd clueless car, and lots and lots of scooters. All the bonhomie and relaxation I had collected on my trip down the coast went up in diesel fumes.

I did find a hotel, right by the side of the road, and tomorrow I will wake up early in the morning to make my final approach to Saigon airport. I am now suffering the “end of a trip blues”, where vehicle has to be returned, the last few dongs spent (at the end it appears I was a bit too frugal, and still have 800,000 dongs to get rid of), check in for my flight, and then wait and wait and wait. But I am going into a further adventure, so I am pretty sure that the blues will be over as soon as I board the next flight :)

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