The road today was straight and smooth, passing increasingly quieter and smaller resorts as we made our way down the coast. The next big stop would be in Saigon (Ho Chi Min City) and we had 2 days cycling to get there. The tailwind we had enjoyed for the last few days was weak today but still in the right direction at least.
Barrelling along we spotted another fully loaded touring cyclist coming towards us and we all stopped for a chat. A friendly Spanish guy who had started in Europe (we think Turkey) and was going to cycle all the way to Asia, but flew from Iran in the end so he could spend more time in the 'paradise' as he called it of SE Asia. Too right! Then a couple of minutes later one more cyclist appeared and then after another minute a second one (all wearing headphones?). The three were travelling together for a while after meeting on the road on the way up from Singapore. The two other guys were both French and were doing a sort of eco-tour on their bikes. They have a big trip planned taking in Asia, South America and Africa and climbing a mountain peak at each destination (of course flying between countries), whilst engaging other people and groups to sort of spread the eco-word as far as we could tell. They have a very nice website detailing their trip which makes this blog look like scribbled notes (http://vertlhorizon.com/). Similar comparisons could be drawn between our bikes. Their bikes were in the region of £3000 each and totally bespoke. Some budget. We chatted for a long time swapping stories and tips from our paths as we would now take the same route as they have done, and they would take ours.
They had a plan to get to China before the 13th December as their Visas will expire then. Doing the maths they will not make it as it took us 14 cycling days to get to Mui Ne from Hanoi and we covered 590km in 4 of those days leaving Hanoi. Also they still have to get from Hanoi to China, and worst of all for them, the last week or so we have had a 20km tailwind pushing us along that they now have to head into. Lance Armstong would struggle to get there on time. I see a bus or train in their near future!
The Spanish guy was interesting in that he didn't take any pictures at all, let alone write a blog. Nice way to do a trip.
We ended up after 128km in the small but busy town of Phuoc Buu. We didn't book anything but found a huge hotel in the middle of the town on the main road. It was a good price for a very nice big clean room but no breakfast. We headed out to find somewhere to eat and passed lots of places that had mini-barbeques set up at each table, but no-one was there yet so we had something in a plastic chair place accross the road. It was a very busy town and a few times we got slightly harassed by beggars and lotttery ticket women (why do they think we need a Vietnamese local lottery ticket?). The locals treat these people in a strange way. They do not look at them, speak to them or let them get in the way, but also never ask them to leave, so they can stand around you or at your table for minutes before they get bored and move on. It is a politeness thing but odd to see. We spoke with the girl in the little restaurant for a while as she had very good English but didn't get a chance to speak it very often.
Then we paid up and found the market to get some drinks and snacks past the barbeque restaurants which looked and smelled great with lots of choices of meats and fish and shellfish. We headed back to our huge room that had two almost double sized beds with massive ornately carved hardwood headboards. These special berths had today just won top spot in our award category of 'Vietnamese Hotel Beds Most Likely to Induce Hip Dislocation'. We know they like a firm mattress over here but these were beyond a joke. We think they just put sheets over the plywood bed base, at most they slid a couple of towels in between. I was shuffling around on my bed when it sounded like something important inside had given way and I only just managed to jump off in time before a serious structural failure occurred. Shouldn’t have had that third bowl of rice maybe...
|The front of the Hotel|
|Reverse Swastika is sign of peace in Buddhism, here on headstones|
|Dragon fruit farms as far as you can see|
|They are cactuses grown on top of concrete poles|
|So the fruit hangs in the air|
|Vert l'horizon guys and Spanish dude|