Mui Ne and the Sand Babies

Mui Ne is a coastal city lined with beautiful beaches, and plenty of places to stay and eat. Unlike other Vietnam coastal cities, however, its has one unique attribute; sand dunes. Being that we’ve been experiencing the beaches for a couple weeks now, we were very interested to check out the sand dunes.

We rented a motorbike and headed for the hills. It’s rainy season here so many of the dunes were actually sprouting vegetation. As we were biking around we noticed many local children yelling for us to pull over near the big dunes. They wanted to be our tour guides. We’d heard that the children could be very aggressive, so we thought we’d be sneaky and find another area of entrance, though we knew it would only be a matter of time before they found us in the sand.

Within about 1 minute of entering a gang full of children ranging from 8-16 years old came running towards us with pieces of plastic for us to use for sliding down the dunes. The kids were cute, and let’s face it; of course we had to try sliding so we were sold. We had them bring us to the biggest hill out there. The sand babies (that’s what we call them) were all smiles, and laughter. So innocent. So adorable. We all slid down together. Note, it was fun, but we didn’t pick up nearly as much speed as we do on the snow back home. After we finished playing, the children were expecting money. We gave them all the small dongs (Vietnamese money) we had… approximately $2. They were not satisfied. They all crumbled onto the sand and gave us puppy eyes saying, “we don’t want to share. Give us 100 dong.” Note: 100 dong (~ $6) is what we paid to rent the motorbike for the day. We told them we couldn’t and the puppy eyes and pleas continued. They wouldn’t take our money unless we gave them more. Finally, we told them that if they didn’t want the dongs and we didn’t want the dongs then we’d just leave the money there for the dunes, and we set the dongs down. They still didn’t crack. They wouldn’t take the money. We said told them to take the money, said goodbye, and began to walk away.

Just then, one of the children yelled something that sounded like, “fuggoff.” Excuse me, but did that child just say the ‘F’ word? More little voices rang out, “fuk off!” “fuk you!” “go to hellll!!” Yep, they were definitely swearing at us, and at a very high pitch and volume I might add. They swore us all the way off the dunes. In answer to your questions.. Yes, they did throw our money back at us. Yes, we did walk at a fast pace thinking they might chase us or destroy our bike. Yes, we did laugh at the madness of the situation. Though in reality, this trained begging is extremely sad.

Thankfully, we got this shot with them before our Sand Babies flipped:

 (View from our hike down the Fairy Stream)

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~ by The Piersas on October 28, 2008.

One Response to “Mui Ne and the Sand Babies”

  1. What adorable little faces – I wouldn’t be able to resist them either. Such a shame that they were so aggressive, and such a shame that they have to stoop to such lows to get basic necessities.

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