Cycling by 7 am each day. It sounds more like a job than a vacation, but it all makes sense when you realize the heat and humidity at mid-day and know that you have a large chunk of cycling under your belt. Life begins early in Vietnam anyway. Below is a photo of the beach from my hotel room at 5:30 am in Nha Trang and one in the Da Lat market at 7 am.
For the past week we’ve followed the coast, dotted with the little fishing harbours of Phan Thiet, Mui Ne, Nha Trang, Qui Nhon and beautiful undeveloped beaches, where we stopped to cool our toes and stretch!
We spent a night in Mui Ne at a very luxurious hotel that caters mostly to Russian tourists and so everything was large…very large. Even the toilet was large, which didn’t go unnoticed by a funny guy on the trip who remarked on its comfort many times. The bathtub abutted a glass bathroom wall with a blind that lifted so it was possible to sit in the bath with a beer and watch TV in the bedroom. This too did not go unnoticed and needed much testing. The common areas were massive, the buffet overflowing with food but with respect to guests and staff…..the place was empty, with the exception of a motley crew of cyclists who just wanted to drink beer in their bathtubs!
The hotel was built in reverse. The hotel is on top of a hill. The ground floor is at the top. The 5 storeys of floors are below the ground floor and go down the side of the hill. The most confusing thing though is the floor button listing inside the elevator. It messes with your mind and a long day of cycling just adds to the muddle. “Ground” is at the top, the first floor is at the bottom, 5th floor is immediately below the ground floor and the others are in between. Not only would I stare blankly at the buttons trying to find the right one, but the power went out and left me alone in a dark elevator stuck somewhere in the middle. This was unnerving in this vast empty hotel where I wasn’t sure if anyone would hear me ringing for help. I presume it related to some complicated Vietnamese wiring configuration. (see March 20th blog).
We headed inland through mountainous country inhabited by Vietnamese tribes and on to Da Lat. I managed a fine photo of some Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs in their natural habitat, much better than one on a leash, wearing a bonnet and walking down the sidewalk in Toronto.
Arriving in Da Lat we experienced the night market and another true eating experience….this time indulging in a few feet.
I now worry slightly when I hear that the next 50 km are “undulating”. Our Vietnamese guide uses that word very loosely and I have no idea the level of difficulty I am about to face. We all struggle with the heat in south Vietnam , but somehow we all manage, maybe it’s the beer and gin and tonic our guide serves us as we finish each day!
by Anne Neary