From Hôi An to Quy Nhon: cycle touring and aprés cycle touring

Friday 12th February

Miles: 37

 Map: Hoi An to Tam Ky 
We were at last able to get off the main road today, as we only had a short distance to make to our destination, and an alternative quieter route existed.

What a different experience to highway 1. We cycled along a small road, which took us through friendly seaside villages and sandy, pine-filled terrain.  

We saw lots of graves. Graveyard in Vietnam 

And also, lots of rubbish, which was a bit of a shame. I don’t think there is great infrastructure for waste disposal in Vietnam, as over the last week we’ve seen people dumping their rubbish by the side of the road and in lakes quite a few times.  Graveyard in Vietnam 

Friendly kids cycling along with us for half a mile.  Cycling in Vietnam 

After cycling Laos’ main roads (the only option in Laos!) and after a week on highway 1, I had forgotten that this is how cycle touring is meant to be. Small roads, a little window into local life and no thundering juggernauts doing insane things.  Cycling in Vietnam  

Cycling in Vietnam 

A view of the sea.  Beach in Vietnam 


Saturday 13th February

Miles: 44

 Map: Tam Ky to Quang Ngai 

Today was yesterday’s opposite. Back on a built-up section of highway 1, we were surrounded by traffic and noise all day.  Cycling out of Tam Ky 

Having now had just over a week on highway 1, we are both in agreement that the coach drivers are the worst offenders. More than once today we yelled out with alarm as we watched them only just dodge each other while at high speeds (all seen from a safe distance, tucked away on our hard shoulder). 

It was hot, we were bored and had headaches from all the beeps. 

Crossing the river into Quang Ngai. Crossing the river into Quang Ngai 

When we found a hotel that offered a room for a pricey £18 we decided that today we could treat ourselves a bit. 

We vegged out watching Return of the Jedi and eating Choco Pies (they are basically chunky wagon wheels without the jam, and are the most available chocolatey thing in Vietnam).


Sunday 14th February

Miles: 59

 Map: Quang Ngai to Bong Son 

We had our usual banh mi for breakfast. You buy them from these little street stalls. Banh Mi StandBehind the counter are bowls full of different ingredients, and the stall owner whips round each bowl with a spoon or a pair of chopsticks, inserting at least eight ingredients into a baguette, including chilli – it always leaves my mouth on fire every morning. 

After an hour of busy roads things quietened down. 

We cycled rolling inclines, enjoying views of the surrounding hills and lush green rice paddies.  Highway 1, Vietnam  

Rice paddy, Vietnam 

The builders for this section of highway 1 had simply blasted through the tops of the hills and laid the road, so we got to see the inside of the hills, which was interesting. Highway 1 Vietnam  

Views from highway 1, VietnamHowever, in the late afternoon these sections of road trapped the heat, and it was like cycling through a mini-oven!

Beautiful views from the road.  Views from highway 1, Vietnam  

Views from highway 1, Vietnam 

That’s what I call fully-loaded!  A fully loaded bicycle, Vietnam 

The best thing that happened today was at lunch time. A couple who were eating at the same restaurant as us asked where we were going. It turned out that they lived in Ho Cho Minh City, and after we’d been talking for a while they offered to meet up with us when we arrived there. They made my day! I look forward to seeing them. 

After dinner we explored Bong Son for snacks (the only reason we ever explore on a cycling day), returning to our guesthouse room with rambutan, a mango and two giant steamed buns filled with pork and quails eggs. Delicious! Vietnam, you’ve done it again. 


Monday 15th February

Miles: 59

 Map: Bong Son to Quy Nhon 

The roads grew busier today, but the views were just as good as yesterday.   

Views from highway 1, Vietnam   

Eric got stressed, wondering if he had taken the wrong turn. There aren’t many signposts in Vietnam. He was waiting for us to cross a river, and didn’t know why we hadn’t reached it yet. 

 Views from highway 1, Vietnam  
 

We crossed the river. We were on the right road. 

We arrived at our hotel in Quy Nhon, which isn’t far from the beach. This place is a popular beach destination for the Vietnamese rather than the westerners, so now that the New Year’s holiday is over, it should be nice and quiet.  

This evening we were monsters of indulgence. There’s a KFC here, and I felt both excited and guilty to eat there (Eric’s emotions were a bit more one-dimensional). Afterwards we went to a big supermarket and bought ice cream, biscuits and our favourite tropical fruits, which were all eaten in bed while watching American TV. Some people joke that the best part of skiing is the aprés ski. To them I say: try aprés cycle touring – it’s a lot more shameless. 

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