No War, Just Wind

So what did I see? I saw people going about their lives just as people do the world over. And a lot of motorbikes!

It’s not like I expected to see barb wire, mines and land scarred by napalm or agent orange (although evidently you can find that in the DMZ and other areas)… In fact, the only ones who think much about the war are the visiting American tourists. That’s right. For the Vietnamese, the war is pretty much behind them. And why wouldn’t they want to leave it in the past? They’ve got a bright future.

We chose to visit Phan Thiet and Mui Ne Beach not because it was the site of some fierce fighting in ’68** (rumor is there are still mines at nearby LZ Betty) but because Mui Ne Beach is one of the best sites in Southeast Asia for Kitesurfing.

There you have it. Our vacation was not a journey to discover the Vietnamese psyche. Nothing high minded at all. It was a chance to withdraw from reality and practice some fun water sports. (At least for the DH. Those of you who know me know that “water” and “fun” are not words I often use together. I’m terrified of putting my head under water, but I am getting better.)

Mui Ne Beach is a very long, half moon shaped bay that receives a fairly consistent wind 45 degrees to the beach, which is perfect for wind sports like windsurfing and kitesurfing. The wind is almost always good, except for the exact 12 days which we were there. Of course. We chose to visit during a sort of dead zone between the two big wind seasons. Who knew?!

Nevertheless, there was enough wind a few days for the DH to learn kitesurfing techniques and skills, which are a little different from those used for kiteskiing on snow/ice.

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Ivan and Instructor Steve setting up the kite and getting it in the air.

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The scene on the beach in front of Jibes, the water sports
center and restaurant/beach front lounge.

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Ivan in the water (on the right)

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The view down the beach – a light kiting day.

I kind of suspect that for the rest of our lives, our vacations and living arrangements will somehow be associated with good kitesurfing locations… 🙂

**LZ Betty is located south of Phan Thiet. We did not visit because the area supposedly contains buried ordinance, grenades and mines left over from the war. What was at one time a narrow ditch beside the runway has now eroded into a huge canyon, potentially exposing some of the ordinance. There is also talk of “quicksand” in the canyon. So we stayed away. Others, however, have braved the area and have the photos to prove it (along with photos taken circa 1968-1971). See LZ Betty, Rolando’s Photos, Currahees and the Battle of LZ Betty. For photos of Phan Thiet during the war see Photos & Notes of a Very Personal War (Let the page load and scroll to the bottom to see a large collection of photos. Warning – there are some shots of deceased VC soldiers.)

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