2nd to 5th December

Monday 2 December

We get up at 6 and go to take breakfast nearby with our host: noodle soup with pork or fish. Then we pack our bikes, go to buy food for the day, and start biking. Today we have around 100km to do, on small roads very near the coast. As we don’t cross big cities, we preferred to take some food with us, in case. Today, we start to feel the fatigue accumulated in the body. We go slower than the previous days, and our breaks are getting longer! in Vietnam, many restaurants have hammocks, making it very difficult to get up and return to pedal.

We cross a few village during the day, but between the villages, the road seems so quiet. It’s so good a small road with few vehicles. At some point, the road is just next to the beach, and we see the waves coming to die on the sand or the rocks. When seeing this spectacle, it’s so tempting to go to jump in the water. Unfortunately, as we have to bike afterwards, and we cannot take shower, it’s not reasonable to go to the sea, we would be irritated very easily with the salt. There are from time to time some big, high standard hotels, mainly for Vietnamese and Russian customers. But we see a good part of the coast still preserved from concrete.

We take a small lunch on the way, during one of our breaks, made of cookies, pancakes and a lot of fruits (dragon fruit and sugar-apples). We finally arrive in La Gi around 17h, where we wanted to sleep. We find a small hotel, where a Canadian guy helps us to get a room. He has been leaving in this hotel for 3 months, and he is very talkative. He tells us many stories of his life in Vietnam, and his feminine adventures here. We go to eat dinner altogether in a restaurant nearby, try the typical noodle beef soup (Pho Bo).

Tuesday 3 December

We get up at 6, pack up and go to eat breakfast at yesterday night restaurant. This morning, we take eggs and bread. The bread is very light, full of air, but it is good, especially after several weeks without any bread for breakfast. The road this morning passes through the plantations of dragon-fruit. It’s funny to see several fruits on a small kind of cactus. We also see many resorts on the seaside.

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We meet a Scottish-Bavarian couple just before Phan Tiet. Greg and Johanna have already been two months in Vietnam, cycling and enjoying the country’s attractions (look at their website: http://www.the-asia-chapter.blogspot.com/ ). They are now heading South, and plan to arrive in Singapore within four months. In fact they follow pretty much the itinerary we had, in the other direction.

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Phan Tiet is an important port of the region, given the hundreds of fishing boats that we can see when crossing the city. As we arrive around lunchtime, we have lunch here. In the afternoon, we continue North on the small road by the coast. After one hour or so, we feel like being in Russia: suddenly, in the village of Mui Ne, hundreds of hotels, resorts, guesthouses, have been built near the beach, and the people in the street are almost all tourists from Russia: tall, blond, very white, and with no smile. According to what the Canadian guy told us yesterday, there is a naval base of Russia here in Mui Ne, and the city has become the favourite beach destination for Russians in Vietnam. It’s really funny to see the contrast between the local Vietnamese, who are poor but with a shiny smile, and the tourists, who have much money but don’t seem happy to be here.

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We stop some 10 kilometers after Phan Tiet, because the night comes soon and we are afraid not to find any place to sleep within one hour. We find a nice guesthouse, where we’ll squeeze the three of us in a big bed bedroom. We quickly unpack our stuffs and secure the bikes, and then go to enjoy the last rays of Sun in the sea. The beach is pretty dirty, with many plastic and papers on the beach, and also in the water! while we are in the water, we often get scared by plastic things coming against our body. The waves are like in Vung Tau: not very high, but totally irregular, it’s very funny. There can be one second between two waves, or ten seconds! so if you don’t pay attention, you’ll swallow some water hehe. The floor is also very irregular, although sandy, there are holes and hills of 20cm.

Once the sky is starting to get dark, we go back to the guesthouse to take shower and eat dinner there. Here too it’s made for Russians, with the menu first in Russian, then in English, and later in Vietnamese. As we do not have internet connection, tonight we go to sleep early.

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Wednesday 4 December

Today, we wanted to wake up to see sunrise on the beach, but we did not make it. We get up calmly one hour later, to have a bath in the sea, to start the day correctly. We decided to split today’s stage into two days, and so take things more calmly. We have to do 70km today. But the team is not in perfect condition. Juju is having diarrhoea, and Mick has pain in his back from a bad stretching.

We leave after breakfast, in the same place as the guesthouse, around 10h15. There is a strong head wind today. The kilometres are passing very slowly. Around 12h, we are at an intersection. The GPS tells us to take a dirt road, instead of following the main road, so that we save some 30km. We stay a very long time in a café just at this intersection, for Juju and Mick to feel better (well especially Juju, since he does not eat much now).

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The dirt road is absolutely marvellous. At the beginning, there are a lot of SUV full of Russians, on their way to see the White Dune Lake. The place is incredible, with a lake, and a sand dune starting on one part of the lake. We ride around 20km on this road, and enjoy every moment. We feel like being in another continent, with the desert around us. Then the road goes along the sea, and we have on one side the sea, and on the other the sand dunes! it’s so magical. The bad point of this road is that we drive quite slowly, not only because of the potholes (we had worse in Cambodia), but also because of the pictures we take.

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We finally arrive at the village of Hao Do for sunset. We have to search a little to find a small hotel. In the village, everyone is saluting us, and the children are following us asking questions. When we stop at the hotel, we talk a little with the children, and suddenly, there are dozens of them surrounding us, asking questions, and impressed by the length of our nose. We go for dinner in the village, and again we are the centre of attention. We try some pancakes, good but too small, and then noodle soup.

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Thursday 5 December

Today, we get up again at 6. We pack our bikes and take breakfast in the street. The locals keep saluting us, it’s so nice. We very soon meet the big highway, the AH1, at we will follow the whole day. Cycling is difficult today, because of the tiredness, the heavy traffic on the road, but most of all because of the strong head wind. And the problem is that this wind is not constant: sometimes it comes from a little in the left, sometimes from the right. So you have to be always very concentrated so that the wind does not bring you on the road or outside the two-wheels lane. Instead of 20km/h we generally do, we are now difficultly at 12km/h. We only have one pause, to drink some Coke, and buy some local energy snacks.

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We stop to eat in a place typical for tourists, with the menus written in Vietnamese, English, and of course Russian. The food is ok, but in quite low quantity. After lunch, we go to see a small temple just above the road. Then we resume to our riding to Phan Rang. It seems even slower than this morning. Why is there such wind? Why always against us?

Finally, after a day particularly tough, we arrive in Phan Rang. We go to meet our couchsurfer, Kim, at the market he told us. He lives just behind. At his house, we meet with his friend Alex, who is a tourist guide for the few Vietnamese tourists who come here. In fact, Phan Rang has some Cham towers that makes many Cham people come here to see them.

We go to eat dinner the five of us (if you are not following, Juju, Mick, Jose, Kim and Alex) at a small street foodseller. Noodle soup. It’s good, it hydrates.

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And here is the video of these days: