I had a weird feeling about leaving my favorite hostel in Vietnam. I didn't want to miss out on a new location or miss out on some of my last few nights with James and Dee. So I said good bye to the lovely ladies at Mojoz Dorm and caught the day bus to Mui Ne with my people.
It was a beautiful drive and an unexpected landscape change. Sand dunes and wind turbines. Never would have expected wind turbines.
When we arrived in Mui Ne:
we got off the bus, and decided to be pro active and confirm our already booked bus tickets to Saigon on the 2nd. We walked up to the guy at the station and asked, he told us it was a Vietnam holiday. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd and if we wanted on the bus we had to pay $6 more, each! I bought this open bus ticket because I was told I wouldn't have to pay extra during the holidays.
The 3 of us talked it over and Dee wanted to just pay it because she didn't think there was any other way around it.
I didn't want to pay until I talked to my friend Pearl, in Hanoi. She was the one who booked our open bus ticket. Pearl also has helped us with all other small issues we have had along the way.
So my travel parents paid and I held off. We walked a few buildings down and got lunch, still with our backpacks.
While we ate I messaged pearl and she called the bus company, they said that the guy shouldn't ask for any money. Then they said that there was no record showing that James and Dee paid. Nice! So he likely pocketed it and it was a scam for him to make money. Good thing we asked for a receipt from him! However when I took a photo of the receipt and sent it to Pearl she said it was missing the price that was paid.
Pearl informed the main bus company of everything and then told us to go back and get James and Dee's money from
The guy. She also said we'd be booked on the bus to Saigon on the 2nd.
James and I went back, Dee stayed with all our bags at the restaurant and she said I should go. We arrived back to the station (just a desk inside an open aired building that also has a restaurant).
There was now a lady at the desk and no man in sight. I politely asked if the man was around and she walked around the corner and deeper into the restaurant area. I looked her way and saw him sitting at a table eating with another man. As soon as he saw me his face changed. He seemed very upset and he started rambling. I'm sure he was mad at me because I was the one who refused to pay the extra $6 right from the start.
The lady came back and said he's eating give him 5 minutes.
I was messaging with Pearl still, using the station's wifi. I gave Pearl the number to the desk we were at and then suddenly the man appeared!
With nothing said, he went to the desk and very assertively pulled out the money and handed it back to James.
So obviously if we didn't have to ask for it, he had been called by the bus company and told to refund us.
The funny and not so funny thing about this refund is that the men here aren't use to this. They aren't use to a westerner having a Vietnamese connection like I do! I have Pearl on my side and this women has truly assisted me all through Vietnam and is always checking in with me to see how I'm doing. Without Pearl the bus station wouldn't have been called today and we all probably would have just had to pay the $6 "scam fee"
So after the man hands back the money to James, James asked, "why did you take my money?" The guy wouldn't answer and instead pushed past him and yelled at us to "go!" James asked again, "but I don't understand why you would take my money?"
The man was being incredibly rude, and acting like a child who didn't get his way. He didn't make his extra money! Now everyone eating in the restaurant is all eyes on us. All westerners.
I asked the guy if we still had seats on the bus and he yelled at me saying something like, "you have tickets and I paid back your money and now bus is already full!"
I didn't know if that meant we were on the bus or off the bus.
Meanwhile in response to James's 2nd attempt at asking the guy why he took his money, the man grabbed James and pushed him and then got on his scooter. At this point the lady is yelling at James and I. James grabbed the mans arm to stop him from anymore physical behavior. James was incrediably calm and even smiling at times. He always smiles. He's an amazingly kind soul. The only time he gets upset is if you upset Dee.
His smiling pissed the lady off and she kept yelling at him, "stop smiling!" She was getting herself way to involved during this mess but at the same time she was just background noise. Our focus was the man.
James didn't want to fight he just wanted fairness and for the guy to explain himself. I've heard stories of guys wanting to fight James and then somehow he ends up talking them out of it and they hug it out.
James said, "I don't want to hurt you I just want you to answer my question" the guy had a look of fear in his eyes and then he almost dropped his scooter on its side. He grabbed a big metal thing from the ground. It was aluminum but I didn't realize that as quickly. What I saw was Thos guy about to attack James! I jumped in the middle yelling at the guy as I pushed him back and tried to
protect James from any harm. Not that he needed it. James could fend off the entire town! It surprised the guy that I jumped in.
James pulled me back calmly and asked me to let him handle it. I didn't think James saw that coming at his head but I stepped back a little and let him control the situation.
Then the guy took off his helmet and started banging it on his own head! Like a gorilla pounding on his chest! It was ridiculous! This whole thing was!
The lady was also yelling at us that she was going to call the police if we didn't leave. We had a number of people watching all this from the restaurant which James told me later that he had taken into account. They were witness's if we needed any. It's also hard to tell how corrupt the police are in Vietnam.
We eventually walked away but not before the guy got on his scooter yelling at us to come back tomorrow morning and then tried to run us over on the scooter!
On the walk back I started crying, I was so upset! If I get really worked up in a negative way over something I'm passionate about I tend to cry. Thankfully it's after I walk away from the situation. Not a quality I like about myself. I'm a peace keeper though and it's upsetting when things turn in a negative way.
From this point I managed to get pearl to handle everything. I asked her to see if she could make sure the 3 of us were booked for the bus on the 2nd and that I'd like to not go back there again.
We got back to the restaurant where we left Dee and told her what happened. I finally had to take my sunglasses off and they realized I was crying. They felt awful! Dee felt bad because she sent me instead of her because apparently she also cries when she gets really upset. She thought I was a better choice and because she knew if the guy touched her at all that would make James furious!
She had to laugh though and call me her twin because of my crying. I said to her, "you really are my mom!" It was definitely funny.
The longer James sat there (which wasn't long) seeing me so upset the more upset he got. At least this what Dee and I came to the conclusion of. He got up and went back, alone!
I asked Dee if I should go back with him (I didnt want him going alone) she said no and that she shouldn't either. So we let him go.
He came back, smiling and told us the guy was back. He probably never even drive away. He was very surprised to see James back.
He calmly told the guy and the lady that we would be back to catch the bus on the 2nd and that he didn't want to cause any harm he just wanted all of us to be treated fairly and not have our money taken for no good reason.
Well! That incedent took up a few hours and then we had a 2 or 3 mile walk to our guest house. There's always a bright side to things and a few came from this. Our walk was much more shaded and breezy then it would have been earlier. Also, pearl messaged me to tell me that bus was going to leave at 11am for Saigon instead of 2pm because it would be a busy travel day. If we hadn't have had that interaction and involved Pearl at that the station, I'm not sure how we would have found out about the bus leaving earlier.
We ended the day with a sunset beach walk. It was perfect timing and beautiful!
There were a few touristy things we could have done here in Mui Ne. There are white sand dunes and red sand dunes, a fishing village market and the fairy river. We passed all the dunes and drive over a part of the river on the bus ride in. We have seen a few fish markets and there are still more ahead in my travels. So we really weren't feeling to pushed to see these things. Plus Dee read that dunes have become littered upon and there are mobs of little kids there who will give you cardboard to slide on and then rob you! They hassle you a lot too. So we just chilled out in Mui Ne.
We made both our full days there, beach days. Beach walks, I should say. Walking long stretches of beach in one direction and then walking back through town so we could find food and water.
I have never been to a beach that has so many unbroken and beautiful shells! Most are polished as well!
Sadly the locals go out early in the morning and take up a lot of these shells and cover them up so the beaches look cleaner. I saw some massive shells one day but I didn't have my camera to capture them.
James, Dee and I spent our last day on a kite surfing beach. I had leasons set up to learn to do this once but there was no wind that day and it was canceled. I'd like to try again. It's an expensive and dangerous sport but amazing as well! And so relaxing to watch. One of my favorites to watch.
The best part of coming to Mui Ne: the last night I was here I saw on FB that a good friend I made 2 years ago in Bali was also here! She's from Spain but works in Japan. I messaged her and the next morning (both our last mornings there) we met for breakfast. We had a great catch up. She was booked for the over night bus to Saigon and I, the morning bus. So we hope to stay at the same hostel in the city.