While we were in Cat Ba, we’d become aware of an imminent storm, but hadn’t quite realised the scale. As we got to Hué and then Hoi An, it became clear that it was a massive Super Typhoon – which subsequently smashed into the Philippines. News was very tough to get hold of, while the US Navy was providing an update of the location, speed and direction of the storm. As the devastation became clearer, we were dreading the impact in Vietnam. Just before departing from Hué we’d managed to acquire tickets for the sleeper train heading south and avoiding the projected path of the storm the subsequent night. The main concern was that 24 hours out, the storm was due to hit just one hour after the train was due to depart. Fortunately for the coastlines of Vietnam (and our journey) the storm significantly eased and altered direction, heading further north rather than straight into the centre of the country. By the time it made landfall, we were safely down at the south Vietnamese beach resort of Mui Ne.
On the day before we left, we spent the morning visiting the ruins of My Son. These were ancient Hindu temples uncovered in the late 19th century by the French. Sadly, a combination of the French stealing away many of the sculptures and treasures and the Americans bombing the place has left it wrecked and fading in the jungle. For some reason it didn’t quite catch my imagination. We were in a large group being taken around by a guide whose voice sounded like nails on a blackboard. I think the combination of these factors, plus the far superior structures that we had seen in Rajasthan, made it a touch underwhelming.
Mui Ne is a long, stretched-out series of hotels, bars and restaurants along 5km of south Vietnamese coastline. For all the beauty of the beaches, it felt a touch ‘resort-y’. There were many loud, neon bars, with a number of loud, obnoxious drunks popping in and out. It was a shame really, slightly tainting our lovely hotel and the tasty barbeque seafood. We finished up with a daytrip out to see the ‘fairy stream’ (a sandy stream flowing through sculpted dunes) and out to many different coloured sand dunes. This all being done, we got up early the next day to head to Ho Chi Minh City.