At 5:30am we woke to the dreaded sound of rain. Our plan was to walk the short 10 minute journey to the Sinh Tourist bus office, but not in this downpour. Very kindly, our host at Christinas Saigon vintage house, got up early to check us out and she called a taxi. Just humping our bag into the back of the taxi left us soaking wet.

The journey from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) to Mui Ne on a double decker sleeper bus would take around 6 hours. This was our first time on this kind of bus on this trip. It’s basically a tall bus with reclining chairs at two heights. We had landed the “top bunk” seats and they turned out great.

We both managed a little nap and the rest of the time was spent listening to podcasts. Emily is currently listening to “Table Manners” by Jesse Ware and I am listening to a lot of Stephen Fry plus “The infinate monkey cage” with Brian Cox.

Half way into the journey the rain gave way to beautiful lush green countryside as far as the eye could see.

Arriving around 12:30 we were fortunately dropped off close to our home for the next 4 days, Bao Quyn Bungalows.

That afternoon we chilled by the pool then wandered through the amazingly manicured gardens to the beach.

In the evenning we ate some tasty eats in the hotel restaurant. I had Pho and Emily had an amazing chicken stir fry dish whose name escapes me. We made a little friend in this guy.

As is our custom now we play UNO whilst we wait. We play first to 500 points wins a series. We are in our 8th series which adds up to about 1000 games played already!

Completely by surprise Mui Ne beach turns out to be a Kitesurf mecca with a school 30m from our hotel.

Last time I kitesurfed was around 2010 in Sardinia and I couldn’t get the hang of kiting upwind. I was also 8 years younger and about 20 years fitter.

I booked a 4 hour refresher lesson spread over two days. I told him to treat me like I knew nothing. I didn’t tell him I had literally forgotten everything. It also didn’t help that his English wasn’t great and my Vietnamese none existent. Still I managed to decipher “ull ooh ine” meant “pull blue line”. Turns out it was it was pretty important to know whether to pull on the red line or the “ooh” line especially when trying to water start the kite.

The first 45 minutes he showed me the basics again and tested my kite flying skills on the beach. It started to come back so we headed through the crashing waves into the sea. He flew the kite one handed and I was holding on for dear life behind. We switched the the kite from his harness to mine and he shouted times at me.

11 o’clock….1 o’clock….10 o’clock….2 o’clock….and so on

I’m guessing your as confused as I was. Although I kind of knew what he was talking about I was a little overawed what with the crashing waves, the howling wind and the 20 other kitesurfers who knew what they were doing zipping past.

He was basically making me change the kite position according to this picture.

Anyway after about 15 minutes of this we used the kite to drag us back to the beach.

“Time for board”

Oh shit, no way did I feel ready. Nether the less we grabbed the board and headed back out. Practised a few water starts with the instructor hanging onto my harness. Then the last one he just let me go and I was off heading out to sea at a great rate of knots. Next stop Brunei…

I managed to ride for about 2 minutes whilst the beach disappeared into the distance. Time to turn around. Ah. Turning, we never covered that. So I dropped myself gently into the water and practised my water start heading back to the beach. Oh shit I wasn’t good. I would get up briefly then hit the deck and drop the kite. It was exhausting. I was quite far from the beach. I needed to get my shit together. Eventually I strung a long run together and got close to shore. Everything was looking good until a gust hit and took me up in the air leaving the board behind. I tried to recover it but couldn’t so I let the kite drag me to the beach and the instructor went to receive the board.

Day 1 over and I was knackered.

That evening we went on date night 126 to Joe’s Cafe. Great company, good burgers, live music, cider and more uno. I struggled to walk home and not from the cider.

After a great morning messing around by the pool we headed to the beach.

I sloped off like a new kid on his first day to the kite school for my remaining couple of hours. I have to say I wasn’t looking forward to it. The last time I learnt was on flat water with a safety boat following. This felt a little edgy. However I hate giving up and needed to give it my all to try and crack it. After an hour of going well out to sea and poorly back to shore the penny eventually dropped. Such a great feeling to finally manag to be able to sail upwind in either direction. Everything felt so much easier, I was in control, and even lost track of time staying out for an extra 30 minutes.

Hopefully as we move up the coast of Vietnam I get the chance to cement what I have learnt and don’t leave it another 8 years. Maybe even learn to jump like my instructor…

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