I awoke early. Loud voices outside the room and light streaming in through the window. Shit i thought i must have slept in. I quickly grabbed my phone and checked the time. It was half past midnight. I’d only been asleep for an hour. But that still didn’t explain the loud voices outside. Turns out the owners of the guest house we’re having a bit of a celebration and continued to do so for the next 3 hours. Clearly drunk they were arguing loudly and one guy seem to be flirting with one of the middle aged women. Who was giggling like a schoolgirl at everything he said. They continued in the same vein swearing shouting laughing and drinking until they eventually tired and went to bed. Finally i managed to pass into a deep sleep but it only seems like minutes later that my alarm was ringing urging us up to meet our appointment with the community who we are fundraising for. Although i did gain a slight measure of satisfaction from the pained look of one of the drinkers when we are aroused him at 6:30 a.m. to check out.
The day did improve markedly from there. First there was a signing ceremony as we signed the agreement between ourselves and the district red cross chapter to organise funding for their project. We are providing funding to help some of the poorest members of the community build climate change resistant mushroom cultivation systems. More details can be found here Then some posing for pictures under our banner with some of the community members. And then it was time to commence our ride.
For me it was really important that we began our trip here. Not only because we are fundraising for the community. But also because it’s a poignant reminder of the dangers posed by climate change to all of us. Those dangers are already a reality for people in this area. Living in an incredibly low lying area near to the sea and dependent as they are on the land for their livelihood.
The ride today was gorgeous. Through some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve experienced in this part of Vietnam. The roads were for the most part small with very little traffic and lots of surprised locals unaccustomed as they are to seeing 2 crazy travellers on bicycles. But the beautiful scenery was for me tempered by the thought of the immense changes that are likely to happen in the region unless we get our act together superquick and sort out climate change. In a little more than a generation life here will be very different. Indeed it may not be possible to live here at all in the not too distant future. The thought that all these friendly people with their smiles and waves could soon lose their homes reaffirmed my commitment to this ride. That in a small way we could hopefully be making a difference and helping to prevent such an unthinkable outcome.. Such reflections will no doubt make the difficulties we have a head of us somewhat easier
After an hour or so passing along tiny roads we caught a ferry across the canal and suddenly found ourselves on the main highway to Rach Gia. It wasn’t too bad the occasional truck or bus thundering past made me hanker for the peaceful lanes we had just left behind.
Lunch was at a small roadside Quán Chay (vegetarian restaurant). The owner was very curious about our trip a series of questions. After lunch we continued on for a few kilometres and then sort out cafe Vong (hammock) one of Kim’s favourite spots in the world to escape the glare of the midday sun.
After taking a couple of ferries and negotiating a busy road we turned off onto one of the most beautiful roads I have ever ridden along. Following the course of an old twisting canal with houses built on stilts jutting out across the water. It was lined with big trees and filled with plentiful wildlife. The late afternoon sun sparkled on the water and gave the branches of the trees golden hue . Once more there was hardly any traffic apart from the crowds of school kids that poured out of schools every 10 or so kilometres along the route. The laughter and joy at being set free farm the tedium of the classroom for the day was infectious . And their shouts of hello helped the pedals go round.
As dusk was falling we pedaled into Cao Lanh a prosperous looking little town and found a spot for the night. Far nicer and much quieter than the place we had the night before but the same price. Dinner was Cháo Đậu black bean congee which was a first for me and was delicious served with pungent tiny dried fish and followed by bánh plan the vietnamese version of creme brulee delicious. Then an early night after the lack of sleep the previous night and the exertions of the day