Kitesurfing in Mui Ne

After doing some research on the Internet, we decided to join the Surfpoint Kitesurfing School.  We did not regret our choice: these guys were absolutely great!  They helped us negotiate a price with the hotel, organized and invited us to some parties and dinners, and even invited us out for their company Christmas photo!  They really went all out in making us feel more than welcome in Mui Ne.  

There are SO many Kitesurfing schools in Mui Ne.  If you're looking for one, we highly highly recommend Surfpoint (  The 3 guys that run the place (Peter, Phong, and Adam) are awesome and were one of the key reasons why we enjoyed our stay here so much. We are even thinking of coming back in the spring (after we finish our Vietnam/Laos/Cambodia loop). 

They where excellent and super chill when it came to the kitesurf lessons - we didn't have to preselect / prepay a specific package, or stick to a fixed schedule (ie. if the conditions were bad, they'd happily reschedule for the next day).  We basically just started our lessons and once our instructor was satisfied that we could go safely on our own, the lessons ended and we were just charged for the lesson hours at the end. 

Typical kitesurf lessons begin with about 2 hours of land training as learning to control the power and direction of the kite is key to being able to get up on the board.

Once you can (mostly) control the kite, it's time to get into the water.  You learn to "bodydrag", which basically involves controlling the power of the kite such that it drags your body along through the water. 

The last step is to add the board to the mix.  We learned to position ourselves and figure out the right amount of power needed to lift ourselves out of the water, just enough so that we can stand up and the board can begin gliding along the surface.  We also quickly learned that too much power or losing control of the direction results in a nice yank and face plant into the salty sea :). 

It took us about 12hours of lessons (each) before being able to stand up and go on our own... and we are still at a beginner level!  But we both had SO much fun learning something new and recommend it to all sports enthusiasts out there!

Here's a short video to give you an idea of what we managed to accomplish after our 12 hours of training… we are definitely far from doing any backflips! ;)

And here are 2 pictures of one of the kite school owners (Peter) to give you an idea of what you can do with a kite.  There are some pretty crazy tricks that the advanced kitesurfers can do!  They happened too fast for us to catch any good photos, but it sure made for some enjoyable spectating while we were sipping drinks at the beachside bar :).

Mui Ne

Mui Ne is a beach town on the East coast of Vietnam that is increasingly popular in recent years due to its great kitesurfing conditions.  We personally wanted to go there for 2 reasons: 1) To learn to kitesurf, and 2) To spend Christmas on a beach.  It was our vacation away from travelling …and we were definitely not disappointed!!.

Since we stayed in Mui Ne for 12 days, we managed to setup a pretty awesome routine:
  • 9:30 wake up
  • 10:00 go for breakfast
  • 11:00 kite surfing lessons
  • 13:00 swim in the pool
  • 14:00 lunch
  • 15:00 nap, read, nerd-out on the computer
  • 19:00 dinner 
Of course, we didn't stick to this strict schedule all the time - sometimes we took a day off from kitesurfing or swimming to just chill out on our private balcony or beach ;) 

Waves & Beach
We didn't do many walks along the beach but we did, on occasion, go for a swim in the China sea amongst the biggest waves that either of us had ever been in!  On a couple of days, the waves were up to 3 meters high… let's just say that when one of these waves hits you, you definitely get knocked over :).
Scooting Around
On one day, we rented a motor bike to enjoy a scenic ride along the coast to check out the Mui Ne fishing village and Red Sand Dunes.
Our Hotel
Our hotel was partly responsible for the enjoyment of our trip here... we stayed at a small but beautiful beachside resort right next to the kitesurf school.
Christmas here was also great - we enjoyed a (relatively) pricey but delicious meal at Sandals, a really great resort/restaurant on the beach.  The highlight of the meal for us was the cheese platter (Brie, Boursin, Emmental - it's now been quite a while since we've had good cheese!), and the desserts (ie. Brie cheese cake, …).
We really enjoyed our time in Mui Ne... so much that we already miss it already!  ..but we arranged to meet up with Guy again in a city called Hoi An, so it was time to move on and resume our travel adventures.. :)

As a side note, since Mui Ne is a Kitesurfer heaven, it means there is a lot of wind and kites around the beach (at least during the XMas high-season) making it a bit tougher to enjoy relaxing strolls on the beach.  So if you don't intend to kitesurf and prefer a quiet calm beach, you might prefer to go to a different beach town :).

Ho Chi Minh

After a week of feeling back at home in a developed country, we resumed our South East Asia adventure, starting in Vietnam.  

We flew into Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon.  Our first order of business was to apply for a new passport for Dom because he was running out of pages.  You'd think we'd have foreseen this as a problem prior to leaving on a big trip and, in fact.. uh, yeah..  we did.  Unfortunately, when Dom pre-emptively attempted to get a new passport prior to leaving, the application was rejected and he was told that - if you currently have a valid passport, you absolutely cannot apply for a new one unless the current passport expires in less than 1 year, OR your current passport has less than 4 blank pages.  After pleading that we would be traveling the world for a full year and that we didn't want to apply and wait 21 days in a foreign country for a new passport, the officer gave him a baffled look and said "can't you just fly back to Canada during your trip?"… sigh… it was a no-win situation, so.. here we are at one of the handful of Canadian Consulates in SE Asia :).

After a bit of struggle with various Visa applications in other countries (ie. getting the India visa in Kathmandu), we were prepared for a bit of struggle/frustration here.  To our amazement, the staff at the Canadian Consulate in Ho Chi Minh, were really amazing (arguably even more friendly and helpful than the passport office in Canada!!).  The lady that helped us was super nice and understanding - she absolutely made the process as easy as it could be by answering all our questions, providing the right overseas applications to fill in, and she even had the new passport shipped to Ha Noi (the other embassy in Vietnam) so that we can continue traveling north instead of waiting for 3 weeks in Ho Chi Minh.  So, we were very pleased to deal with them and highly recommend it to anyone else who finds themselves stuck in this situation in the future :)

From Ho Chi Minh, we also visited the Cu Chi tunnels and the Vietnam War museum.

For those who do not know about this war, you should read the first few paragraphs of the Vietnam war wikipedia page: 

 South Vietnam: 850,000 (1968)
1,500,000 (1974–75)[6]
 United States: 536,100 (1968)
Free World Military Forces: 65,000[7][8]
 South Korea: 50,000[9]
 Australia: 7,672
 Thailand: 11,570
Philippines Philippines: 2,020

 North Vietnam: 287,465 (January 1968)[10]
China China: 170,000 (in 1965–69)[11][12]
 Soviet Union: 3,000

 United States
58,220 dead;[A 2] 303,644 wounded[A 2]
 South Korea
5,099 dead; 10,962 wounded; 4 missing
500 dead; 3,129 wounded
 New Zealand
37 dead; 187 wounded
351 dead;1,358 wounded[20]
9 dead[21]

.  To summarize, it was a cold war fought in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, where the Russians were supporting North Vietnam and the US was supporting South Vietnam. 

No war is ever pleasant - the War Remnants museum did a good job of outlining the atrocities and horror of the Vietnam war.  It's presented in an artistic and touching way with artifacts, quotes, and photos from people who fought, barely survived, and were brutally tortured.  It has been over 25 years since the war ended, but since then, tens of thousands of locals have since been killed or handicapped by the millions of unexploded land-mines which, to this day, still contaminate over a third of the country.. not to mention the hundreds of thousands of children born with horrible defects due to Agent Orange exposure which also still contaminates deep within the soil.

The Cu Chi tunnels, a 2 drive hours north of Ho Chi Minh, were made by the Viet Cong to evade and hunt the southern forces.  There over 200km of tunnels split into 3 underground levels: At the top level, a Vietnamese can walk through if they crouch down at the hips, whereas the bottommost level of tunnels requires them to army-crawl.  They also slept and lived in expanded rooms within the maze of tunnels.  They were so well hidden from the surface that you would never know they were there - all you'd see is dirt and vegetation.  Also, since the Viet Cong guerrillas were mostly under-armed, the entire area was booby trapped.  

Unlike the War Remnants Museum, the Cu Chi tunnels tour felt very touristy and done up a bit like an amusement park more than a place depicting remnants of the Vietnam war: You can even pay to shoot old military weapons from the AK47 to M-60 for fun.  Overall, it was still an interesting experience and worth seeing/crawling through part of the cramped tunnel networks to get a real appreciation for what they endured and accomplished.

After Ho Chi Minh, we took a bus to a beach town on the East Coast called Mui Ne, where we will be spending Christmas!

Now that the world managed to survive the Mayan Apocalypse, we'd like to wish everyone and your families a Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays, wherever you are!