Back on the Tourist Trail

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

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Where I stayed
Nice Hotel

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Woken early by the waves crashing on the beach, we stumbled out of our little hut to drink coffee in deck chairs over-looking the bay – fantastic start. We lazed around reading, eating baguettes and updating the blog until 10 when the huts manager waved us off  assuring us it was an easy and scenic ride to Nha Trang. The pass back out of the bay certainly was very gentle just high enough to give another spectacular view of the little fishing village.

It was another amazingly hot day, so we broke up the 50 miles with many drink stops. After 10 miles we stopped and tried some strange looking fruit which we had been curious about for a few days. The young couple selling it thought we were a bit mad as we didn't know what to do with it and had to show us which bits were edible. They looked like big apples but tasted like melon, excellent for thirsty cyclists. Next drinks stop was cokes in a shack where a very excited and talkative customer got on Mikey’s bike, using a pole to support himself as he obviously couldn’t reach the pedals. As we left the owner kindly filled our water bottles with ice (we’ve been drinking local ice for weeks now and not had side effects – its worth the risk for cold drinks. It comes in massive blocks which they smash up with a metal pole or sometimes a dirty stick!)

Lunch was yet more baguettes in another roadside shack, where we had to wake the proprietor who was sensibly sleeping in her hammock. She insisted we have some sausage meat which had been wrapped in palm leaves to keep it cool for the baguettes, and it was surprisingly delicious, especially with the salt/chilli/pepper powder she gave us to go with it. We’d seen the palm leave parcels hanging outside shops, but never before ventured to try them. One up, the shop lady made herself and coffee to drink and sat next to me chain-smoking and gently interrogating us in Vietnamese. One of her friends also turned up to sit, stare and giggle. I managed to explain we were going to Nha Trang and had come from Hanoi. She pointed across the road to other people lying in hammocks having siestas, clearly suggesting that we should stay and rest in her shack until it was less hot – A good idea, but we were really keen to get to the beaches and western restaurants of a serious tourist town. She also suggested we stock up on lots of sausage meat parcels as food is expensive in Nha Trang. We told her we would risk it, paid her tiny fee for a lovely lunch and left her to her relaxing hammock.

After 49 miles we hit the traffic lights our host of the previous night had told us about, and took the left fork onto the empty coast road into the city he had recommended. It was a few miles longer, but heaven to be away from the honking highway. Our road wound up and down along the coast, with more incredible scenery.  A couple of miles from the city we passed our first group of local cyclists, riding for leisure – amazing. It was a group of fairly old men riding in a pack, most with a mountain bike and even a proper cycle helmet. Their leader, and clearly the expert,  was a very old man with a bone shaking shopper bike, women’s plimsolls and best of all a yellow construction site helmet! He was powering up the hill with no problems, followed by his panting team. They were very excited to see us and all gave us waves, smiles and thumbs up. Typically a white guy who puffed past later grumpily ignored us.

Nha Trang is a big city and we had to cycle through several miles of it before we hit the tourist area and after 54 miles in the sun we were pretty tired. A tourist cheered us on as we crossed the bridge though telling us we were nearly there. The massive array of hotels confused us, and the Lonely Planet was no help, as all of its recommendations were full. We immediately attracted the attention of two touts in motorbikes who tailed us as we trailed round loads of different paces trying to find a good deal with a sea view. Eventually we agreed to go and see the most persistent one’s hotel, although the name 'Nice Hotel’ did not inspire us! He insisted it really was nice though and had a sea view for $12. Amazingly he was right, we got a lovely room, on our own, on the 10th floor with a huge balcony over-looking the sea. We had to share the balcony with the staff eating their lunch and the hotels washing, but who cares? It was incredible.

Showered and refreshed we hit the streets to check out either the French or Italian recommended by the guide book. We could smell heavenly pizzas from outside the Italian and so immediately took a street side seat and got stuck in. Pizza, pasta, tiramisu, a bottle of rose and some homemade limoncello made for a fantastic meal. We even bought some books from a seller who kindly waited until we had finished our meal to harang us. MIKEY wanted to buy them, it’s amazing he really likes reading now!

After dinner we decided to take two days here and make the most of it. It will mean a couple of long days to Mui Ne, but after 2 days off that should be ok. 
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