Road to Nha Trang
tomorrow," a few people told us the night before our ride to Quang
Ngai which lay where the flooding had been most severe. But by now
I had come to accept this comment as someone in being polite does
not want to give you bad news. Of course it was raining in the morning.
We spend more than few minutes clearing up confusion about a missing
TV remote. Seems the "Long Life" brand remote is missing
from Tim and Barbara's room and the staff is convinced we have it
as the room is already been searched. Ironically, Tim adn Barbara
don't even own a TV and never even switched on the one in thier
room. Twenty minutes later the remote is found in a room drawer
and we are free to leave. We set off with determination to ride
in the wetness no matter what. Tree donned a tailored rain jacket
and custom shoe covers cut from the extra plastic.
rode through to Tam Ky - about half way - but after a long lunch
some of decide the bus looks awfully warm and dry. However, Barbara
presses on and a few hours later finishes the 75 miles - the longest
ride of her life despite the potholes, rain wind and a seafood allergy
that has partially closed one eye and swollen her lower lip. By
now we know to expect Horst at the hotel, dried and waiting looking
around for the massage parlor for a rubdown. We stay at a new hotel
in Quang Ngai - a huge, state-financed behomith in which we are
the only tourists. As in Hoi An, a large swimming pool outside mocks
us beneath cool, overcast skies. What luxury from previous years
when the group stayed at a small guesthouse where once a sink fell
off the wall, the water Russian water heaters blew fuses, and the
state radio blasted over megaphone next door at 6:30 in the morning.
After an incredible dinner (which Ichibod found to be "the
best in Vietnam") staffed by a man who I deemed "Vietnam's
Number One Waiter" because of his habit of filling everyones
bowl just a split second before they were about to, we limp back
to our rooms for a deep slumber. Except for Debbie and Jim. It turns
out their room is right above the karaoke lounges and after a few
songs decide to switch rooms.
dinner, Sinh says his friend has just driven up from Nha Trang -
two days away on our planned itinerary - and it is sunny and warm.
Everyone is thinking the same thing: let's skip riding from the
hotel and shuttle up to the blessed dry roads and warmth. Except
for Neil, who being from the Seattle area is used to riding wet.
He wants to ride it and will depart early to meet us. It's raining
the next morning and we wave an early goodbye to Neil. He has a
one-hour start on us but makes excellent time and beats us on the
36-mile ride to Sa Huynh where we take a weather check. The coast
here has been heavily eroded from the storms and several bungalows
from the hotel we stop at have been claimed by the sea. There is
no sign of sun and even Neil is now willing to ride in the bus.
By group choice, we even decide to skip Qui Nhon and ride the bus
the full 10 hours to Nha Trang - we want some sun! Sinh calls and
changes our reservations and we climb into the bus for what will
be one long ride.
all hope is given up - strange things can happen. No sooner than
we are about 10 miles up the road than the road looks very peculiar.
It is dry. The first dry road we've seen in a week. There is a comment
or two about this but no one really appears excited. Then Ichibod
points out a patch of blue sky in the distance and a few more of
us perk up. I ask the group if they want to ride but everyone seems
complacent as if the sky will open up again any moment. We cannot
and Jim want to ride and begin lobbying Horst first asking what
kind of champion would not want to ride on such a day? And Neil,
freshly dried from this morning's peddle says he does too. David
straddles the fence but finally says he's game. Although they are
still in the minority I have the bus pull over pointing out that
this is a cycling tour. We exit the bus to a strong, warm tailwind
and now everyone want to ride!
monster tailwind blows us to Qui Nhon in just a few hours and we
are all smiles, and all dry. David, at over six foot six, is quite
a sight to the more petite Vietnamese. But today flying past at
30 miles an hour on a bicycle would have been a sight for anyone.
Barbara has just ridden the second longest day of her life. Neil
has done just under a hundred in two differing climates (and looks
it). Carol doesn't look like she's ridden at all but got in well
hotel, the Seagull, overlooks the South China Sea. From our balcony
you can see the surf pound the beach below, still heavy from the
previous storm. But to the south you can see bright skies and it
looks like the worst is over. The group just thinks I'm just being
polite, but I know we'll need that sunscreen really soon. Our hotel
boasts a stuffed tiger in the souvineer shop as well as one dollar
boxer shorts of which I buy two having run out of clean drawers.
Ichibod points out that there is another stuffed cat under the xerox
machine in the hotel office and that they only keep one out to keep
the price high... There is more heavy rainthat night, but the sound
of the pounding surf just out from our hotel rooms makes for a soothing
night's sleep. I swear I can feel the large waves nudge the earth
and gently rock our beds. Sunrise the next morning brings a strange
sight - the sun. There are clouds in the sky everyone is eager to
hit the dry road and the group departs Qui Nhon together to ride
up the beautiful Cu Mong Pass just a few miles south. However, our
bus is delayed as the staff insists one room key has not been returned
and there is confusion about unpaid Internet access time. We are
held us up as the room is searched, but this time it is not found
and we are let go promising to clear it up when we return on the
16-day bicycling tour by twelve Americans and Canadians involved
traveling the length of Vietnam, from Hanoi to Saigon, with plenty
of time to stop and see the uniqueness of the cities and people
along the way. Although cyclists ranged in ability from beginner
to champion racer, all found a way to explore Vietnam at their own
pace and in the best way possible -- as most locals do -- on two
diary was written and updated each day during the trip as it happened
during the tour according to the perspective of the author who makes
no claims of accuracy to the events happening as described herein.