Friday, January 21, 2011

Kitesurfing and beach holiday in South Vietnam

3rd leg of the December family holiday. (1st was Angkor, 2nd was Phnom Penh)

First, we fly to Ho Chi Minh City or HCMC or Saigon depending on the feeling of the day. Let's note for the people who might want to visit Vietnam that an application for a visa must be made before going, there are no visa on arrival!
We passed this first test, so we just exchanged our approval letter for the proper sticker on arrival, that was done quicker than we all thought. Second step is the immigration officer. Queuing, I got 2 chances of admiring how to bribe an immigration officer! From behind my yellow line, I kind of understood that the guy in front of me wanted a longer visa and after a few head signs from the officer he got that he needed his wallet to sort this problem out. It took 2 attempts, apparently there wasn't enough money in the first try and that was reflected in the disgusted face the officer pulled on seeing the note. Unfortunately, I can't give any guidance on how much is required, I didn't see the notes...
After immigration, we met our taxi driver who was going to drive us for the next 5h to MuiNe.
I should specify that this journey happened on Christmas day, so we had the most special Christmas lunch with Vietnam airlines: plastic cutlery, main course wrapped in foil and everything! One of a kind... :-) The drive was made of thousands of opportunities to admire nativities, (everyone seems to have a huge one in front of his house), plenty of churches with even bigger nativities and even an outside mass! By 7.30pm we finally made it to destination, a destination which felt very much like Russia, signs for massage in Russian, Russian food and as you might have guessed, a lot of Russian tourists! (unfortunately I'm not allowed to count it on my travel world map). Having spent most of the 5h driving at 40 km/h and being scarred of the local way of driving, we were very glad to arrive!
We regrouped with the rest of the family and headed out for a proper Christmas dinner: sea food BBQ on the sea front! It's different from foie gras, turkey and chocolate but I liked it a lot!!!
The next 3 days will be made of a mix of cycling along the coast, jumping in the waves and swimming in the beautiful pool.

More energetic activities will include wind surfing (hard in the waves),

climbing sand dunes,

breaking the kite and finally, what we came for: kite surfing lessons!
If I can summarise my feelings in one sentence, it is not as easy as the hundreds of people happily surfing in the waves might let you think!

Anyway, we made significant progress in 6h lessons! We are now really good at body dragging in the water and flying 5m forward when making a 8 shape with the kite! But still not on the board...
After 3 full days in MuiNe, it is time to take the 5h journey back to HCMC and fly up North to Hanoi. (see next post!)

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