Riding my bicycle across Vietnam
The first gift of the day was moderate climbs in moderate climes. Fueled by a bowl of soup and a coffee, I made short work of the mostly mild gradients. My strategy lately has been not to push myself too much, but just to shift down and keep on pedaling. The weather this morning was also fantastic. Sunny with scattered clouds but not Hoi hot. The wind, for the most part, makes the riding more enjoyable. But when I’m going downhill gusts can really catch the bike like a sail and push me all over the wide shoulder. Something to be cautious of. The climbing continued, riding along a spine, slopes fell away, sometimes on both sides to reveal fairly flat green, some areas more densely populated with houses than others. One a far mountainside, there were even some wind turbines, a first sighting for me. I was making good time, stopping at around 11:30 for lunch in the town of Buon Ho, about halfway to Buon Ma Thuot. I purchased an egg banh mi and a steamed bun from a street vendor. With two small plastic bags dangling from my handlebars, I kept riding in search of a coffee shop.
What ensued was hilarious, I found an awesome coffee shop. Lot’s of flowers, airy, natural light. All the good stuff. The owner informed me that she had just opened a week ago, and asked if I would be willing to help film an advertisement for the shop. How could I refuse? After finishing my sandwich, it only took a couple of takes for them to film me riding my bike into the coffee shop, sitting down, and having a drink of coffee. We also filmed a short conversation, and they sent me on my way.
My destination, the town of Buon Ma Thuot, serves as a kind of tourist stopover in between more popular areas like Dalat. It’s also the coffee capital of Vietnam, and should be a good place to spend my rest day tomorrow. I found a respectable hotel, and then walked to a nice coffee shop to spend some time writing. Buon Ma Thuot is a decently sized city, with not a lot of tourist influence it would seem. Most everything is in Vietnamese, and I could only find one Western restaurant (guess where I went for dinner). Coffee shops are everywhere. Heaven. After a pretty good cheeseburger for dinner and a good chat with the local owner of “La Garden”, I headed back to the hotel, brewing some ginger tea and settling down for a fairly early night. It’s nice to go to bed without having to set an alarm.