Mui Ne is situated along the South China Sea, far enough south that the water is warm, yet far enough north that the seas are affected by cyclones out in the open ocean that create a strong, year-round surf. There is also an unceasingly strong wind that blows along the coast. While beach combing you may lose your hat or your mind if it's not pinned down properly. Due to these unique conditions, one of the most popular activities to do along the main beach is kite surfing. Apparently back in the 1970's and 80's people tried to put kites on everything - ice skates, roller skates, canoes, surf boards, etc. It was a golden age of recreation. While most of these kite-related activities have fallen out of vogue, kite surfing is alive and well where the proper conditions exist.
Kite surfers get their massive 12m nylon kites into the air while on the beach. It is a precarious process, but once the apparatus is soaring high above them, the surfers amble into the water with their board , strap into their bindings, and make their way into the angry sea. Once up, their kites propel them through the waves, allowing more advanced riders to jump through the air (sometimes over 50 meters) and do fancy tricks.
Apparently, the Russians have been doing this sport for years on frozen ponds and bleak, snowy fields, so the entire stretch of the main beach is littered with tall, muscular, tanned, tow-headed Russian men, barking orders at their small Vietnamese assistants. Mui Ne was only recently discovered by the sporting community and within the last five years the denizens of Sankt-Peterburg are escaping their frigid winters and arriving in hordes. Each and every menu/paper/ad in town is in Russian, sometimes even eschewing Vietnamese and English. Vietnamese folks are prodigious complainers, so take this with a grain of salt, but we consistently heard that Russian visitors in particular can be rather standoffish and unkind to staff at restaurants and bars. Is this a misinterpretation of the thick, naturally harsh tones of the Slavic languages or simply a knee-jerk reaction to the poor service that is predominant in Mui Ne? I don't know, but at least this takes some heat off of the perpetual whipping boy of the traveling community - Americans.
What a sight to see, a stunning white sand beach, a blue sea full of crashing waves and hundreds of colorful kites flying through the air. Although it made swimming a bit hazardous, it was worth the risk to sit back and watch people literally flying through the air. After talking to a few instructors we met there, I think I will bite the bullet next time we're in Mui Ne and learn to kite surf. I want to fly as well.