We rose at dawn as we had a big day ahead of us 100 kilometres to cover to reach Nha Trang and a welcome day off by the beach. We loaded our panniers with all the provisions we purchased the night before and then looked in frustration at all the open shops we passed throughout the day. Still better to be safe than sorry, it’s not a good idea to get caught out on a long bike ride with no food or water.
Despite it being 6am on New Years Day the streets were still busy. The street were we ate was bustling with people having their breakfast and a steady stream of motorbikes went past. I thought of the contrast with the streets of my country at 6 am on new years day where the only things on the street would be the empty bottles and pools of vomit from the previous evenings revelry and perhaps the odd drunk staggering home from a party.
Our route out of town must have been the way to a Pagoda because every few hundred meters there was a stall selling incense, biscuits and flowers which people use to make offerings on the first day of the year. It seems like the Christians, ever eager to co-opt the festivals of other religions have also jumped on the bandwagon and we encountered a crowd spilling out onto the street at the conclusion of mass. The women were a splash of colour against the drab tarmac in their bright patterned ao dais
Perhaps the wind gods were angry that we hadn’t made them an offering because our friend the wind returned with a vengeance. Once more we battled against it and I spent most of the time at the front drafting for Kim. At times we only managed to crawl along at around 12 kilometres per hour. I was even grateful for the hills because they provided some protection from the wind and if it wasn’t too steep we actually peddled faster.
While the wind hadn’t changed the landscape certainly had. The previous days it had been dry and rocky with the major crops being dragon fruit the coastline was harsh with rocky outcrops and a few ragged bushes clinging on to them. It had a Mediterranean feel to it . As we moved north the landscape softened. The mountains continued but were greener and at the base were flat expenses of bright green rice . The sea felt more productive too with sheltered bays filled with fish farming and shellfish production.
Then as we curved around the coast and began to head north instead of northeast the winds shifted too and suddenly we were flying along what a relief . Without the change perhaps we wouldn’t have made it certainly not before dark anyway as i was beginning to get very tired. It was our first day over 100 kilometres but satisfied we rolled into Nha Tran.
I like Nha Trang it’s unpretentious, a nice little town with everything you need with a nice beach and tons of good eating options. Yes there are a few Russian tourists and yes there a few backpackers but that to me just adds to the cosmopolitan feel we had a rest day planned here and took advantage spending the day at the beach and visiting one of kim’s friends to be plied with plentiful Tet food and drink.
The next day was pretty easy too we had planned to go all the way through to Tuy Hoa but Kim wanted to visit another friend on the way and just before that we had to negotiate Deo Cả the first pass of the trip. So instead we decided to break the leg and stop just before the start of the pass in the pleasant beachside town of Dai Lanh our hotel even had a sea view. We had a wander along the beach and a swim and met an American guy who has returned to visit his family for only the second time in 40 years. Near the town the beach was a bit of a shithole with trash everywhere, but it got much more pleasant as you walked away from the town. Later we happened to eat dinner in the same place as the only other white guy in town, an English backpacker who had taken the first bus out of Nha Trang and by chance got dropped off there.
It is often the places you have no expectations of that you end up enjoying the most whereas those that you look forward to can be a bit of an anti-climax. After dinner we had some icecream at a little roadside stall and then had an early night to prepare for our first real challenge of the trip.

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