Landing in the tremendous heat in Hô Chi Minh City after leaving a wintery Sweden can be quite overwhelming. For me it felt like coming home. Walking amongst the many motorbikes and taxis in the intense heat, the feeling was thrilling. I left Sweden for Vietnam after my graduation to manage a beach bar and restaurant in the kitesurfing capital of Asia – Mũi Né. I wasn’t sure of what to expect, from the country, the people or Mũi Né.
We had the restaurants owners’ son picking us up at the airport. We got in the big pickup truck taking us down to Mũi Né. Closing up on Mũi Né, a small coastal fishing village four hours away from Hô Chi Minh, the excitement was surreal. We drove along the coast, closing in on the bar and restaurant we were going to spend the following months in. At arrival we were amazed.
The owner had put a lot of money building the most fancy venue in Mũi Né. The marble exterior was amazing. Walking in the open doors you are standing in a lounge area with a main bar filled with exclusive furniture.
People travel to Mũi Né for kitesurfing / kiteboarding. All along the beach you find kitesurfing schools, and were we worked we also had a kitesurfing school connected to the bar. It was one of the first in Mũi Né, started by an Englishman about 9 years ago. The rumour also says it is one of the best, and I can verify this rumour. The teachers are relaxed and very safety conscious. Some of the schools are not, and will take out students even if the conditions aren’t safe for beginner. The South China Sea is always filled with colourful kites in Mũi Né, and the biggest subject is always the wind. ‘Will there be wind today?’ You can see the sadness in all the kitesurfers eyes when the wind is absent.
Other activities are best done in the early morning or before sunset. One popular thing to do is go to the sand dunes nearby where you can take breath-taking pictures in the morning or evening sun. The fishing village is also a great place for colourful pictures and gives you a chance to get closer to the more authentic life of the Vietnamese. There are a lot of possibilities to do yoga in different places, which is very soothing in the breeze under the evening sun. Working in Mũi Néi this was something I tried to fit into my schedule when I could.
Working with the Vietnamese was a special experience. Being partly responsible for about 12 staff members, both in the bar, restaurant, kitchen and maintenance, were only a few knew English, but a lot of them didn’t – was of course was a challenge at times. The staffs were hard working, some more than others, but didn’t mind taking a lot of breaks during the day if a slow day. When asking for help decorating the venue or doing anything really they would always help out. I found the Vietnamese to be very proud people. They have respect for each other and seem to have strong family bonds. At times it could take a while to get to know the people there, but once you do they take you in and help you like you are family.
I would love to return to Vietnam and see my friends I made there, and see how the country is developing. Hoping it will keep the beauty that lies there and not let man ruin it for us travellers.