Working in the Mui Ne Hills
You know when travel goes wrong but everything is all right? Like when Mitch Hedberg described an escalator as something “which cannot break, it simply becomes stairs”, travel cannot fail. You just end up somewhere else, doing something else, which is probably still pretty sweet. Well, after making it to Huê on motorbikes from Ho Chi Minh City, my friends had to hurry up to Hanoi as their time was running out. They therefore opted to sell their bikes and fly the remainder of the way up. I decided that it would be a good opportunity for me to go back south and do all the things I never got to do while we were hurrying through the country. The number one thing that came to mind was kite surfing in Mui Ne.
I first wanted to drive my bike all the way back down but I quickly realized if I were to do that, and have to drive back up, I too would run out of time. I would probably get back to Huê end of March and have to hurry the ride from Huê to Hanoi, where I’m supposed to arrive early April, as Ajani, my international partner in crime is arriving for a trip to Laos. I decided that the best option would be to leave my bike in Huê, where the hostel graciously accepted to keep it (I hope it’s still there), and fly back down to Ho Chi Minh City, which was the closest airport to Mui Ne. I would catch a sleeper bus from there, and let me tell you, Vietnam’s bus game is strong. Really strong. Most spacious, comfortable buses I have been on, if you can get past the constant honking and the bus driver who was watching a movie on his hands free device. I have slept soundly on them once before and this was no different.
Finally, I made it to Mui Ne, checked into my hostel – the Mui Ne Hills Budget Hotel – and went to sleep early so I could wake up and start my kite surfing. The next morning, I walked down the hill to the beach and headed to the kite school I researched earlier. The guy working the stand seemed surprised to see me, as if he wasn’t expecting any customers. I could not tell why, but I told him I wanted to learn to kite surf and that I wanted the full course. He smiled and informed me that he loves my enthusiasm, but that today, and tomorrow, and the next day, there is no wind.
It seems obvious that wind is required, but not having done this before, I only checked the weather (sunny all week, it’s a go), before booking my flight. Well, the next windy day was in three days so I booked my course for then. I realized I had come all this way, and will spend the next three days with nothing to do. I guess I’ll catch up on some work, some reading, and some blogging. I went back to the hostel because I remembered how last night, upon checking in, the receptionist had told me they had a pool. Hopefully I can find some shade and get some work done.
As soon as I got up there though, I was astounded by the property. Turns out the hostel is adjacent to a hotel whose amenities we could share, and included two pools, a deck, and a volleyball court, all situated high on the hills the hostel is named after.
The pools and deck provided an amazing view of Mui Ne and the beach, and volleyball started at 4pm – 2 hours to get some work done.
I sat down and was presented with a menu. The Vietnamese food they offered by the pool was very cheap, similar prices to what you’d find on the street, as were the drinks, and the waiter quickly pointed out that they don’t believe in “happy hours”, only “happy days”. It was always happy hour! Sure, I was sharing a room with a few other people, but I was paying backpacker prices for what, for all intensive purposes, resembled a beautiful resort.
The atmosphere was very relaxed, almost like what you would find at a coffee shop. No one was loud, and there was soft, electronic music playing that added to the relaxing mood with a modern edge. I ordered a Pho Ga (chicken Pho) with a mango shake and started working. It was easy to focus, and I could take a break anytime I wanted to and cool off in the pool.
I caught up on my work and realized how much I can get done here. I recently started a new contract that involves very new mobile technology and, quite frankly, have been learning it as I’ve been working, feeling like I was always catching up. I got my deliverables out for the day and still had time to do a little research. I’m still hoping the wind picks up on Friday, but I’m definitely not at a loss of things to learn on these new tools and, after such a relaxing work day, could not think of a better place to do it.