Cycling from the Cau Treo border to Hué (part two)
Monday 1st February
The weather forecast shows rain for the next week. I am really regretting sending back our high quality raincoats and waterproof shoe covers in Chiang Rai.
The good thing about today was the interesting food we’ve been having. We had banh mi for breakfast – that’s a baguette sandwich Vietnamese style. It had chili paste, some kind of flavoured oil, fish ball slices, cucumber, tofu, fresh coriander and something shredded that looked like cheese but was super salty.
We’ve also been enjoying pickled vegetables and extremely delicious miscellaneous meat pieces.
Our snack was rambutan from the market. I am familiar with this fruit as my mum would get it for us when we visited Thailand, but Eric had never tried it before. It’s like a sharper-tasting lychee. Eric gave it a thumbs up.
It’s been so cool and wet that none of our clothes can dry. This evening we came up with a creative solution.
Tuesday 2nd February
Another wet day on the road. We finally managed to find some rain ponchos like the locals all wear. (My odd expression is due to the biscuit I’m eating. I complete the cycle touring look with a further biscuit in each hand, ready to go.)
Eric ready for action.
“How much were they?” asked Eric.
“9000 each,” I said.
“That’s cheap,” said Eric.
“No… 900,000,” I said.
“That’s really expensive,” said Eric.
“Wait… 90,000,” I said.
“That’s fine,” said Eric.
I am not good with all the zeros.
The road was quieter today, and the drivers slower. We are also getting used to the beeping. The scenery was quite dull and urban for a lot of the time, but we did pass by some magnificently moody mountains.
It rained for a lot of today, so the ponchos really saved us. It was a bit strange cycling with them on at first. They’re so big that they completely cover our legs, making me feel like a duck paddling across a pond: I’m moving but I can’t see how.
We’ve seen a few western-style churches in Vietnam. As a communist country, Vietnam is one of the least religious countries in the world, but out of the 94 million inhabitants there are apparently 6 million Catholics and 1.4. million Protestants (thanks Wikipedia).
We also saw the sea for the very first time on our South East Asian trip! Not quite a tropical beach…
Today’s treat was American TV in our hotel room. Feeling pretty knackered after our cycle, we vegged out watching Groundhog Day, The Blindside and Chappie.
Thursday 4th February
We began the day with a bit of road rage as we cycled out of Dong Hoi. Though your outrage is never going to be very intimidating when you are a couple on a tandem in full-length rain ponchos.
Away from the crazy city-driving the road grew much quieter, and we had a nice time saying “Hello!” to lots of school kids who were cycling to school.
I can confirm that this 59 mile stretch of Vietnam is still a little bit communist.
Here’s the water buffalo which can often be seen pulling a cart along the road or a plough through rice paddies. They are pretty tough-looking beasts!
Our bike was not in the best shape today. After the days of cycling in the rain and the mud, our chain is dusty and dry and was squeaking all day. Even worse, our back tyre was partially torn by something, and has started to come away from the wheel rim, meaning that its days are now seriously numbered. We have a spare tyre, so we don’t have to worry about being stranded. It’s just a drag. We’re hoping it will hold up tomorrow until we find a bike shop.
Friday 5th February
The rain was back and the ponchos were on for a few hours in the morning.
Our tyre slowly got worse, until, with fifteen miles to go we could feel it wiggling from side to side with every rotation. After a bit of debate we gave in and swapped it for our spare tyre (feeling very glad at this point that we had a spare tyre). While we were fixing up the bike we had a few interested onlookers, and two people stopped and asked if we needed help. Vietnamese people are nice.
Our old tyre was strapped to the back and off we went.
Traffic on the way into Hué.
You see some fairly impossible-looking loads being transported on scooters. Here was a good one – a wardrobe secured (“secured”) with what looked like one bungee!
After five days cycling south we’ve arrived at our first stop-off in Vietnam. We are both really looking forward to a few days rest, and actually seeing a bit of Vietnam, rather than just cycling along its biggest road.
Last picture… during tonight’s dinner we tried the traditional Vietnamese dish, fresh spring rolls, filled with shrimp and vegetables. Mmm, tasty!