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Making Friends

Posted by Heliocentrism on June 20, 2017

Monday, May 1st-6th, 2017

There are many ways to make new friends while traveling. The easiest way is to start by looking around your hostel dorm room. Most of the people who I have befriended and stayed in contact with, I’ve met because we stayed at the same place during the same time.

It’s the easiest way for me, because I don’t feel rushed into a friendship. I’ll see someone several times over a few days. We can have short conversations here and there. If we like similar things, we could even hang out together or go sight-seeing. I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself an extrovert; I just need time to feel comfortable around new people.

Another way to make new friends is by joining a tour group. These can last for a morning, an afternoon, or a day. The method is a little harder for me. Unless the people I’m with are a lot more outgoing and proactive than I am, after the tour ends, there is no further contact. We may all have a great time, but no e-mails or Facebook information will be exchanged.

Mark and I haven’t stayed in a hostel since Hue. Living in hotels can become a bit isolating. The accommodations are generally nicer, on the whole, but way more effort has to be put forth to be social. You cannot just sit on your bed and start conversations with strangers like you can at a hostel.

Mark and I tried to meet new people on a day tour of Mui Ne, but nothing came of it. We had a great time and met some nice people from France and Canada, but then we never saw them again. At no point during the tour did it feel natural to ask for anyone’s contact information. Not only would it have come off as rushing the relationship, but I didn’t even have enough time to know if I even wanted to keep in contact, even for a few weeks after the tour.

This photo is so fabulous, I’m going to have to use it at least twice on this blog.

Then one day in Mui Ne, walking up the hill to our hotel after swimming all afternoon we heard someone call out to us. “Hey! I know you guys.” We looked around, at first assuming that who ever was mistaking us for someone else; no one, in Mui Ne, knows us.

It was our friend Mimmu, whom we met our first day in Vietnam. She had the bunk right next to Mark’s. We talked about all the things we planned to do and see in Vietnam before we took off to Ha Long Bay and she headed to some national parks.

We sat down together and filled each other in on what we had done on our travels so far. Without realizing it, we had been following each other for the past month, us missing her by a day or the other way around.  We were all headed to Ho Chi Minh City next. This time we would meet up and sight-see together.


Vietnam
(Việt Nam)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, train, boat, or bus.
  • Make sure to get a visa before going to Vietnam. Although some nationals can get a visa at the border for a few days, many cannot or will need a visa for longer stays.
    • Visit the Vietnamese embassy in your country to get a visa.
    • Or you can apply for a visa online if you do not live near an embassy or consulate.
    • Remember if you enter Vietnam on a single entry visa then leave, you must wait 30 days before returning to Vietnam on another visa.

Phone:

Website:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Don’t worry if you cannot get Vietnamese dong from your local bank back home. You can get your dong at the bank in Vietnam. (DO NOT get money at the airport. You will never get a good rate. Use an ATM/bank.) Don’t get too much; no one will buy it back from you. Many hotels, fancy restaurants, and tour agents will take US dollars or Euros. Though who knows what exchange rate they will use? You will need dong for taxis, small shops, and local restaurants and vendors.
  • When you get to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh pick up a map of the area from any hotel, hostel, travel agency, or tourist information center. Once you have one of those you’ll be able to find anything.
  • Having a map of the area in Hanoi is very important. Every block has a different street name so once you know the name of street something is on you can easily find it with a map.
  • Wherever you choose to stay, make sure you bring a picture and the address of the hotel. One common trick that taxi and motorbike-taxi drivers like to pull is to take you to the wrong hotel. When you say, “I asked for ABC Hotel!” They will tell you that the name changed. They usually get a commission for bringing tourist to certain hotels.
    • Sometimes hotels do change names. But most likely a hotel will not change names between the time of your booking accommodations and your arrival without telling you.
    • Also, asking the average Joe on the street for ABC hotel will do nothing. Locals don’t stay in hotels, so they don’t remember hotel names. But Mr. Joe will know where 123 Hanoi St. is.
  • Also for taxis, NEVER agree to a flat rate fee. The flat rate fee will always be way higher than it should be. Always demand that the cab driver use the meter. If he doesn’t want to use his meter, get out. Taxi drivers are a dime a dozen. This is true in most countries.
  • For motorbike taxis, settle on the cost of the ride before getting on. Ask fellow travelers for advice on how much a ride should cost.
  • Watch out for cyclo drivers that claim not to have change as a way to get more money out of you. If you need to, wait for one of those fruit vendors to come along and buy something from her to make change. You really should ask the cost to your destination and make sure you have exact change before you get in the cyclo. 
  • It’s best not to say anything bad about Ho Chi Minh while in Vietnam. He is still very much loved by his people.
  • There are companies that charge 10USD to take you from Hanoi to the airport. They are all around Hanoi. Use one of those instead of jumping into a random cab.

Mui Ne

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 10.939414, 108.292279
  • Mui Ne has no bus or train station. So here are your options.
    • Train:
      • Take the train to Phan Thiet Railway Station.
      • Then take the red #9 bus to Mui Ne. (frequency ~20 min. Ride ~30 min.)
      • The train station is the last stop, so jump on any red #9 you see.
    • Bus:
      • There are sleeper buses and tour buses that will deliver you close to your hotel in Mui Ne.

Websites:

Notes:

  • Depending on where you go, the beach might be hard to get to. Sometimes you have to walk around several resorts to find an alleyway to the beach.
  • Taxis are not that expensive, especially if you take just one or two rides. Still, keep an eye out for buses to keep costs down when traveling around town.

White Sand Dunes
(Đồi Cát Trắng)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 11.066075, 108.428244
  • You can take a taxi, rent a scooter, or join a tour group.
    • Most hotels in the area can help you find a tour group.

Address:

  • Hòa Thắng, Bắc Bình District, Bình Thuận Province, Vietnam

Websites:

Cost:

  • 15,000VND per adult
  • If you’re on a group tour, this fee is included in the tour cost. You don’t need to pay extra.

Hours:

  • Always open

Notes:

  • It’s best to go around sunrise.
  • It’s pretty, but if you’ve ever been to any other dunes before just skip this. All dunes look alike.
  • Renting a quad bike is quiet expensive and not in a “for Vietnam” way.
  • If you’re going to rent a sled to slide down the dunes, do it here. The Red Sand Dunes are not as good for sledding.
  • Don’t expect peace and tranquility here. It’s very noisy with so many people getting quad-bike rides to the top of the dunes.

Red Sand Dunes

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 11.032945, 108.373126

Address:

  • 706B, Mũi Né, Tp. Phan Thiết, Bình Thuận, Vietnam

Phone:

  • +84 94 696 69 19

Websites:

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • Always open

Notes:

  • These dunes are a lot smaller than the white dunes.
  • Personally, I was not very impressed with these dunes.
  • You can see more red sand along the Fairy Stream.

Fairy Stream

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 10.956872, 108.260919
  • From the middle of Mui Ne, you can take the red #9 bus.
    • This is the same bus that goes to the train station and Lotte Mart.

Address:

  • khu phố 4, Hàm Tiến, Phan Thiet, Bình Thuận Province, Vietnam

Websites:

Cost:

  • Free to enter
  • 10,000VND to leave shoes on a rack.
    • You could also carry your shoes with you for free.

Hours:

  • Always open, but it’s best to go when the sun is up and you can see where you’re going.

Notes:

  • This was by far my favorite thing in Mui Ne.
    • Even if you think it looks great in the photos, it doesn’t look as nice in photos as it does in person.
  • If I were to do it all over, I would skip the dunes and just do this.
  • I went with a tour group, so I couldn’t spend as much time here as I wanted to.
  • Tips:
    • Take the bus.
    • Wear flip-flops and put them in your bag when you walk in the stream. That way, you don’t have to exit the stream where you enter.
    • Bring money. There are lots of smoothie and drink stands along the way and restaurants a little off the path.
      • There are many signs telling when you’re near a restaurant.
    • There are some exits along the stream that lead to taxi stands.

Fishing Village

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 10.941386, 108.278759

Address:

  • Mũi Né, Phan Thiet, Bình Thuận Province, Vietnam

Websites:

Cost:

  • Free to look at
  • There might be people willing to boat you around for a fee.

Hours:

  • Always available, I guess.

Notes:

  • This is not worth a stop.
  • The place stinks (probably from rotting fish left out too long) and there is trash all around.
  • There are better fishing villages in Vietnam to visit.

Map:

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