As we approached the fishing village, the bus driver took an abrupt and highly illegal turn into an extremely pedestrianised pavement. As we stumbled out, everybody looked around in confusion. Where is the highly anticipated fishing village we were promised? It turns out it was completely hidden behind a long strip of seafood restaurants, all proudly displaying their catch-of-the-day in tanks along the road.
At first I decided I wasn’t going to get out the car, I had woken up at four in the morning to watch the sunrise and could do with a little nap whilst the others busied themselves looking at dead fish. My new friend Miriana, however, was hopelessly convincing me to join her.
“Come on Aimee it’s only twenty minutes we can hold each other’s noses. Please Aimee I heard its beautiful – you can write about it! Aimee we are here let’s go please, please, please, please.”
Why she was a solo traveller was beyond me, she did however have a great sense of humour, making me laugh from the moment we sat next to each other in that crowded little minivan.
“The whole of Mui Ne is a fishing village Miriana,” was one my excuses. “I can see tanks of cramped and helpless fish and crabs just outside my hostel.” Like a child, it wasn’t till she stopped trying that I decided to get out the car.
The first thing that came to mind was how overwhelmingly vile the street smelt. There was an all-encompassing stench of rotten fish that made my breakfast slowly rise. It was so distracting I almost missed the village.
A long promenade lined the coastline from a hilltop and a long concrete staircase lead down to the village on the beach. A number of decrepit beach shacks made of corrugated metal sheets that had been worn out over time and sprayed with graffiti sat cramped together along the shoreline. Locals and tourists meshed together to surround the women sitting in the sand selling fish. It was a little too chaotic at first, standing in the middle of the crowds peeping over shoulders to view the women in action, however, once I removed myself from the area and observed from above it turned out to be quite entertaining.
The coast was extremely impressive. Hundreds of boats crowded together in an explosion of colour – blues, yellows, reds and greens. Little bowls floated along the shoreline sometimes occupied by people eating fresh fish and relaxing in the sun.
I could ramble on about the beauty of the coastline for hours. However, I could also ramble on about the atrocious shoreline for just as long. Continuous tourist exposure and the devastating effects of pollution are ruining what once was – because I googled it – a spectacular, picturesque bomb of a beach.
Tonnes of rubbish are being washed up on shore and they are piling up against the beach shacks that line it. From plastic bags to plastic bottles and glass bottles plus a number of other random objects that are ugly-fying the area, it is turning the beach I would have originally rated an easy-peasy seven or eight to an easy-peasy three.
The rubbish doesn’t only decrease the overall appearance of the village, it damages it, including the marine wildlife.
I came across a statistic the other day that blew my mind. I was scrolling down my Facebook feed – it was from the UN’s ‘Environment’ section and said: “At least 8 million tonnes of plastic leak into the ocean each year. That’s like emptying a garbage truck into the ocean every minute.”
This was extremely alarming – at first the smell of fish overwhelmed me, now an infuriating sense of disgrace has taken its place.