Hooray, we got past the unpaved roads of sand to reach the dunes!
First thing about Muine, it is essentially one long main street with several side streets. Half of the town is a "resort style" with expensive rooms and the other half is the traditional fishing village. All in all, what there was to do here was more beaches and to trek out to visit pure white sand dunes. Unfortunately, I didn't go to a beach because by the time I arrived, I had developed a persistent cough that dropped my activity down to nothing. No body aches or stomach problems or anything like that, just a rather uncontrollable cough from which I tried to sleep through fitfully the first night.
The second day, me feeling a bit better, we rented motorbikes again and paid a visit to the fishing village and then a long ride out to the sand dunes.
A rainy afternoon at the sand dunes near Muine
They were quite beautiful and we were hoping for a picturesque sunset over the dunes, but alas, the day was cloudy. Furthermore, it started to rain right when we got there so after getting to the dunes, we also failed at being able to slide down them on plastic sleds (I did a running start and traveled about 2 feet in the wet sand). Waited out the rain in a makeshift home/shop next to the dunes, then got back into town and had some more roadside food. At the conclusion of the meal, it started raining again and there is nothing worse than trying to drive back on a dark unlit road with rain pouring down and being relatively blinded by traffic going the opposite way. But we made it back unscathed.
Yesterday was Tuesday, marking our 14th day since arriving in Vietnam.
That, my friends, is the Ho Chi Minh City post office!
But it was listless because it rained all day while we got up late and waited for our bus to Saigon. First impression of Saigon was a bit of a shock: it looked just like New York City. It is nothing like Hanoi or any other city we've seen so far; it is very Western. You have skyscrapers, bright neon lights and modern looking stores. After walking around a bit at night, I decided that Saigon was like a combination of NYC skyscrapers, with the large wide streets of Paris, and the corridors of Tokyo within its tall buildings.
Today, after a late start, we went to see our first landmark of Saigon. The post office. I kid you not, this is not your everyday post office. The main post office has classical French architechture and looks like a palace or museum from the outside.
The Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon.
But it is fully functional with a huge interior reminiscent of old style train stations. Very neat place. Nearby was the Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon. It is a rather large and beautiful structure of the French Romanesque style that performs Sunday service and all the other usual proceedings. And from there, we also went to see Saigon's indoor market at Ben Thanh. We all noticed that the haggling here was much more difficult; vendors were difficult to budge down on prices and did not always pursue us when we walked away. It's probably due to so many people (foreigners and locals) visiting that they don't need to fight as hard for every sale. After that, I finally went to a Mat Kinh to do something I've wanted to do since coming to Vietnam: buy new eyeglasses. They should be ready tomorrow and assuming they do a good job, I will have scored a pair of eyeglasses for about 1,300,000 dong... or $72. I am hoping for the best. After some more Bia Hoi (this place we found served beer in what looks like a milk jug for 8,000 dong, so it was like 4 mugs worth at 10 cents a mug), I am quite satisfied with this day. Tomorrow, we have a full day trip to visit a few sites. There's plenty more to see and do here in this crazy non-Vietnamese looking city of Saigon.