Hitting the Hills

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

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Flag of Vietnam  , Ðà Nẵng,
Monday, February 21, 2011

Our stylish room in Hotel Asia was so comfortable, with such a gorgeous view, that once again we didn't want to leave. We spent a long time eating everything available in the scrumptious breakfast buffet, and after some reading and relaxing, checked out and were on the road by 11.30. The hotel really deserved its awards for best service and affordability, both were excellent. The bell boy even watched Mikey clip on his bar bag and then swiftly did mine for me. He had also told Mikey it was a 6 hour cycle ride to Danang (turned out to be true!) and that there was a very big hill with a tunnel which we should not cycle over, but instead put the bikes on a truck! (We didn’t believe him.)

The day was grey and drizzly as usual and the miles uneventful. We did find a quiet stop to eat our baguettes by the water at lunch, making our first really peaceful picnic. (Needed sunshine though!) We were annoyed by the fact that there were two different sets of distance markers all the way along the route, 20km separating them. Google maps had said 60 miles, so we hoped they were right instead. As for the hills, we had two small 1 mile up/down passes and assumed they were what the bell boy had referred to. When at 40 miles we saw signpost to a pass and a big tunnel, we weren’t worried either. Mikey even said, " I quite like a hill now, it makes a change!”

After 3 miles up, we started to get a bit annoyed, it was taking a long time and was very steep. At that point a mist descended and we could see nothing at all around us. The visibility was the worst we’ve had yet, maybe only 15metres. We could see motorbikes disappearing but had no idea if they were going up or down. In the end, it was 6 miles uphill and having at least 15 miles left to do, we realised we were probably going to run out of light. Sadly this meant we couldn’t stop and have coffee with all of the excited stall owners who ran out to greet us when we reached the summit.

The descent was incredible. As soon as we left the chilly mist, the atmosphere became positively tropical. The air was scented with jasmine and we could see white sand beaches below. Despite our hurry, we had to stop and take photos. When we eventually hit the outskirts of town, we could see people were in vests, whereas in Hue they’d been wearing thick coats. It is amazing how quickly the climate can change over just one day’s ride.

It was another hilarious ride into Vietnam’s 4th largest city. The motorbikes and push bikes gradually increased to immense volumes, just as it finally got dark. The city is huge and after the pessimistic road markers predicted 66 miles we had another 4 to get to the centre. (The longer ones are always right)  Negotiating roundabouts in the dark with traffic coming in all directions was scary but also exhilarating. A moped and I both had to do emergency stops at one point. The best policy is just to go for it and hope no one hits you – they usually don’t, but that’s more nerve-wracking in the dark.

At 6.30 we eventually hit the river and found the Lonely Planet recommended hotel. It was ok, and we had done enough for the day. After a shower, we resisted the temptation to order room service and went out to eat. Typically the restaurant was filled with other Lonely planet readers, but the food was excellent. Mikey’s deep fried pieces of sweetcorn were not what he had expected when he ordered buttered corn, but tasted pretty good.  A quick stroll along the river through the sandstone sculpture park ended a tiring but eventful day. The change in the weather is VERY good news!
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Tim and Pete on

Hey guys! Really enjoying the blog. We're taking a lazy day today and resting up the rouge in a hotel. The arms are getting a little less sore every day... idiots!! Hopefully we'll be in Nha Trang tomorrow if you're about for a delightful bowl of offal pho! We'll drop you a text... Safe riding! Tim

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