Turbo Charged Escapes

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

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Where I stayed
Mekong Hotel

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Friday, February 18, 2011

Breakfast at our hotel was Pho Ba, the standard noodle dish in Vietnam, which unfortunately is really grim. It did fill us up however and we set out into a dry day pleased that this is our last 60 mile day before a short hop to Hue where we would be back on the tourist trail. The scenery continued to improve, with vast sand dunes to our left and green paddy fields to our right. If only the sun would come out, it would probably look quite spectacular.

We've not much to say about the day really. The traffic returned and the noise was unbearable. We were inundated by school children on bikes shouting and chasing us and at one point had to put the turbo boosters on and do 20mph for a few miles to get rid of them. They're quite persistent though and you can hear their creaky bikes struggling on for ages. At many points during the day a few attach themselves behind us, shouting and giggling. Ignoring them seems to be the best policy, as any attempt to smile or say hello provokes ridiculous giggling, shouting and stupid behaviour. The main problem is that they swerve around all over the place potentially knocking us off and have absolutely no traffic sense whatsoever. When it gets too dangerous, we stop and shout at them to go away and when they don’t Mikey squirts them with his water bottle which usually works. (Note: Some are calm and sweet and just give you a lovely smile.)

After lunch however we met a group of teenagers who took it to the next level, chucking stones at us as we passed - not a pleasant experience, but luckily none hit. In the last two days we’ve seen two other solo cyclists and neither have even waved/noticed us having their heads down and cycling as fast as possible in the other direction. Clearly they’ve been having the same experiences. I hate being disliked in a country and the fact that we don’t want to go into restaurants and encounter other people as it’s often a negative experience. Now we’ve got baguettes and cheese we have been having picnics though, which are not only better cycling food, but mean we can chill out on our own in the quiet.  

Anyway, when we arrived, Dong Ha was another large city and after cycling round and checking it all out, we found a 3* hotel which had a clean 10 room and really polite, friendly staff. For the first time we encountered a couple of touts who wanted to take us to cheap guesthouses – not interested! We also found an enormous supermarket which had all sorts of luxuries like peanut butter, cereal, pasta, white wine and chocolate!! We bought loads and cooked a meal in our room (against the rules) but so good. Eating out is normally tasty, but we never know what we’re getting.

Later we were reading another cycling blog to check out the road ahead and found a guy who is a couple of weeks ahead on our exact route. He also stayed in Ky Ahn and his journal entry for that day makes harrowing reading. He encountered the even darker side to the story, something sickening and heart breaking which has given me nightmares ever since. It’s easy to see why westerners in that area might be treated with disrespect and suspicion and also why people are so disturbed. I’m really glad we’re out of there, but also cant stop thinking about it.

Miles cycled: 62 unwelcoming miles

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