Riding my bicycle across Vietnam
My morning started with wandering out of the hotel, fresh-eyed, looking for food. This kind of no set destination exploration is an absolute boon every once in a while. No deadline. No place to be, all the more reason to slow down and enjoy it. Of course, the streets were us bustling with motorbike traffic and the occasional truck. Parked motorbikes, and piles of sand or bricks often make navigating the sidewalks an adventure all on its own. I made my way back to the market I walked past yesterday, quickly realizing that I had only scraped the surface. A few vendors were on the streets, but ducking under some short umbrellas and a haphazard roof of sheet metal, tarps, and hope I discovered a new world.
The dimly lit, regimented market had an earnestness that I took an immediate liking to. I enjoyed seeing men and women cleaning fish, meat, and vegetables for the day. There really is no barrier between you and life. The uneven concrete floor is wet with water, messy with fish scales and food scraps. I found a restaurant stall, and pointed to one of the other patrons dishes and taking a seat on the small stool. One of my favorite meals so far consisted of rice cake pucks, sweetened fish sauce broth, crumbled spring rolls, barbecued pork, and I think fish. It was an awesome find. I might be back there tomorrow morning if they open early enough!
There were a couple things on the agenda today, as there was a coffee museum that I wanted to visit, in addition to a coffee village, both owned by the Trung Nguyen coffee brand (most popular coffee in Vietnam). The museum itself was interesting, not at all linked to just Vietnamese coffee. Rather, it looked at brewing methods from countries all over the world. It was pretty neat. The “coffee village” was not what I had expected. More of a secluded garden with a nice cafe. Nevertheless, it was enjoyable just to sit and listen to the different fountains. There’s a lot of movement inherent to this trip, and not moving is often a nice change of pace.
There was more ambling around after this, I was really leaning in to this whole relaxation thing, eventually finding a place for lunch. I’ve hit a wall with Google Translating menus several times, and today was no different. Eventually the manager came over, using Google Translate to suggest some items. It all turned out for the best, with crab soup, barbecued beef pieces, and clay pot fish coming out of the kitchen.
The rest of the afternoon was meandering. Coffee shops, blogging, walking around. I spent some time back at the hotel preparing for tomorrow’s mini-epic: 110 miles (180kms) with some steep climbing right at the end. I’m hoping to be wheels down earlier than 5:00 tomorrow, as I anticipate a long day in the saddle. Don’t worry, there are a couple bail points if I don’t make it. I packed up a bit for tomorrow, filled water bottles, retrieved laundry from hotel, and brought back a couple of banh mi - one for dinner tonight, one for breakfast tomorrow. Now it’s time to eat some pastry and call it an early night. Here’s to tomorrow’s adventure!