Riding my bicycle across Vietnam
My host mom at Sahi Homestay sent me on my way with a delicious “Vietnamese style” omelette and two French baguettes filled with margarine in my belly. Good fuel for the long day to come. The first 50 miles passed quickly. I was excited to get off the main highway, cutting directly towards the ocean on an immaculately paved, seldom trafficked road. It was marshland to either side. I got a great shot of a bunch of water buffalo walking on a small path in the middle of one of these marshes. This road connected to another, slightly busier, but no less beautiful road to parallel the sea. This was the kind of bike riding that the whole trip centers around. It’s not touristy, cutting through small, quiet enough hamlets. Even in remote areas, there is a kind of quiet intensity to the people. Then the rain started.
In these conditions, it’s better to get wet than to don rain-gear, as I’d just sweat right through it. There was something fun about riding in the rain. A new feeling for the country, a grittiness to the ride. Yah, that novelty wore off after about thirty minutes. No matter. Back on the main road, I had my first experience with duck sandwiches, fueling up for the main task of the day, the Hai Van Pass.
Top Gear fans will probably be familiar with this feature of the country, it’s a steep, often treacherous mountain pass. About 10kms of climbing with ramps up to 10%. I was just hoping my legs made it to the top. Conditions were grim at this point. The rain was coming down, and I felt like I was climbing into a cloud. But there was still a beauty to it. On the mountainside, wet, jungly leaves formed a variegated pattern. The fog that I was in obscured the ocean on my left side so that I could just barely make out the waves crashing below. It was super cool. With the rest day from yesterday, my legs didn’t let me down, and I made it to the top in time for an iced coffee and a quick break. But there were still 20 miles or so to get into Da Nang. The descent was worthwhile. As darkness, fell, the rain continued, making a memorable slog into the city. But spirits were high as I arrived to my mutual friend’s mutual friend’s house and hurried to the neighborhood grill for a seafood feast.
Time spent riding: 5:42
Average speed: 12.5mph
Distance: 71.42 (I suspect this to be a bit low because my cycling computer was on the fritz)