Low Points on Highway Number One

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Flag of Vietnam  , Hà Tĩnh,
Wednesday, February 16, 2011

As is usual in Vietnam the cleaning lady was in our room as soon as we opened the door this morning – weird practise. After giving our fave security guard a nice tip, either a guest or cleaning lady hugged me goodbye, and we set off. What a friendly place!

Things went downhill after that, starting with a trip to two bakeries which didn't sell bread – outrageous. We gave them a lecture about false advertising and eventually found some rubbish stuff in a shop and set off to find a relaxing place to eat it. This part of Vietnam is as bad as India for littering and the scenery has been devastated by piles of rubbish everywhere. We eventually perched on a railing by a river and ate some horrible bread whilst watching some fishermen. (Should have been quite nice, but with the grey sky, honking horns and general filth, it really wasn’t!) We then did 30 miles to Ha Tien, where it started to drizzle as we sat down for lunch in a street stall.

We were the only people there, but I think this was due to timing rather than anything else, as the ladies served an amazing meal, including some lumps of crispy roast pork to die for. We left completely stuffed having yet again not been ripped off – brilliant.

Highway 1 has been much quieter today and the roadside much less populated – not really sure why, but we like it. We pushed on for another 15 miles before stopping for a drink in a shop where we were served by 3 gorgeous smiling children who were very helpful and keen to find something we would like. They tried out all of their English on us asking us our names as well as where we are from. It’s very hard to work out what goes on about school here, the hours seen extremely odd and the children seem to spend most of their time cycling around. They wear tracksuits instead of a uniform and so far have had the same one across the country.

After leaving the children’s shop we actually saw a primary school , where all of the children were outside practising some kind of cheerleading thing. There was one teacher to 400 children, most of whom seemed to be doing as they were told apart from a naughty boy in the middle who was karate chopping everyone around him!

For the last 15 miles before our destination of Ky Anh we noticed another very disturbing thing; Outside every house/shop along the road we saw one or two teenage girls standing looking out. It took a while for it to register, but it became clear that they although they had tracksuits tops on, they were all wearing high heels as well and occasionally men were stopping. We only really noticed, because they were standing out in the rain not doing anything. Their very young age was horribly sad, as was the fact that small kids were playing outside as well. We’ve since read online that this area is notorious for this and that many families rent rooms to these working girls, who ply their trade whilst the children of the family are doing their homework in the next room. Again, we knew this is another problem here (and have been avoiding the many hotels offering massage and special saunas as well as those with 'bang’ in the title!) but cycling past being greeted and waved at by these girls makes it so shocking.

Arriving in town, there was only one hotel, which looked like exactly the kind of place we want to avoid, but we’ve managed to find a guesthouse, which is not too bad. We’re not venturing into the horrible town tonight, luckily lunch filled us up anyway, and are online planning our way out of here!

NOTE: Anyone thinking of visiting Vietnam, need not be put off our experiences. There is no reason to visit any of the places we are, unless you are on a bike! The rest of the country looks beautiful, Hanoi and Sapa certainly were.
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triciagick on

Oh dear how so many of the other half live. Plotted your course as usual and it does seem a very narrow strip - and I suppose all the nice beaches mentioned aren't! Just been to book club and we had all enjoyed a great thriller 'Ordinary Thunderstorms' William Boyd, so I'll probably send it out with Dan. Am also enjoying in a rather disturbing way 'The Girl in the Photograph' (The Vietnamese War). Hope tomorrow brings more cheerful sights.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Caroline Fyfe on

I can understand your distress seeing the young being exploited in this way. I hope your next part of the trip is more uplifting and enjoyable. All the best from us both xx

Jojo on

Oh dear not a very good few days. Hope very much things turn brighter as you get further South - I don't suppose you are that far from the Equator or am I beinng pig ignorant will check on a map.

Stiff upper lip and poer to the pedal.

Ernest on

Loved the Valentine's Day menu. By coincidence I had a superb lunch in the new Brasserie Blanc at the weekend ( we must go there when you return) and spotted on the menu 'Saucisses ga choi, frites, mamelade d'oignons! Very glad i didn't order it.

I know stretches of the highway have been boring and as Polly tells us, all the Vietnamese men are short Mikey but deliberately knocking children off their bikes and into the road and then riding around a hotel lobby on your dirty bike is a little over the top, remember you are British and anyway you really are not that short!

Just booked seats for the show I am taking you to at CFT( mid September); wont tell you what it is as I like surprises.

Love reading of your amazing journey.

Take great care, E

Lindy on

Been catching up - don't worry Mickey John has not given me a valentine card in 40 years!!!! Some of Vietnam sounds quite surprising and maybe a bit disappointing while Hanoi did sound great - really interested in your thoughts and where the wrinklies should plan to go if that materialises.
Can't picture us being on a bike but a moped would be good - Neil did a lot of back roads on a moped when he visited from Japan - seemed to go down the coast.
Keep the blogs coming
All love Lindy

Jojo on

Hi Guys

Well no crossword, coffe and marmalade tomorrow with Tricia as she and Alan are off to visit Newton! P&E arrived yesterday and have given Olaf an early birthday present - get ready for this .......................................... a pair of black suede lederhosen!!! so we have just got to get him to learn how to slap his thighs! Peter is sending you his love and want you to know how very impressed they both are. Hopeyour w/e goes well and you manage to get a day off on Sunday.

Lots of love from all here at Highfield (and they are ALL here)

Teresa on

Hi guys, I have just finished a mammoth catch up read. What an adventure! I particularly enjoy reading your comments about the locals. I will keep praying that God will keep you both safe.
Sam and the family say hi. Sam especially liked your description of your train ride. Xxx

Samuel James on

hi heard about your epic train ride i see your in vietnam remember my advice if you have lots of love Sam J

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