First Sea View Since Mumbai

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
1
170
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Trip End Aug 21, 2011


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Where I stayed
Apec Hotel

Flag of Vietnam  , Nghệ An,
Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Very excited about finding fresh baguettes, we had bought some for breakfast, which we enjoyed with coffee in the room. We then bought some more for lunch on our way out of town, also discovering Laughing Cow cheese which we snapped up.  Cheese is a rarity on our travels and it was something to look forward to at lunch. 20 miles whizzed by and we arrived in Dien Chau to see an obscene amount of school children on bikes. They were coming at us in both directions and had taken over the entire road. The girls we mostly quite sweet although giggly, but the boys were VERY annoying and Mr Neville used his pannier to knock a particularly persistent one off his bike and his teacher voice to deliver a lecture! We took refuge at a street stall and downed juice and a delicious rice thing. A helpful little girl grabbed our map and pointed out all the things we should see on our route down, clearly imagining we were very stupid and didn't understand how to follow a road she showed us every town on the route.

The scenery was not very spectacular, and the sky was grey, but it did feel slightly warmer than yesterday and on the little girls recommendation we decided to take a detour before Vinh and check out a famous local beach – Cua Lo. We’ve not seen the sea since Marine Drive in Bombay, so excitement was high – maybe we would swim! It was also great being off the highway and cycling along chatting without being blasted in the ear every 5 seconds. Coming into the town, it seemed pretty dismal, and people were shouting rather desperately to encourage us to come into their empty restaurants. Our expectations lowered and as we reached the sea front, we weren’t actually that surprised to see a dirty brown beach covered in litter and some annoying lads already there waiting to hassle us! Never mind we thought, we’ll sit and look at the ocean and quickly eat our baguettes before heading to the big city for an early finish. I leant my bike against a convenient shack and was about to look for a place to sit when Mikey came back from a quick pee and said we need to get out of here. He’d seen several needles lying around  - horrible. I turned to get my bike and looked further into the shack to see literally hundreds of used needles lying on the floor.

We cycled away really quickly, very disturbed. Mikey admitted that a few days ago when we’d stopped to eat in a shack in a town, he’d gone out the back and seen loads there. He didn’t tell me because he thought it would upset me, but to be honest, it’s really shocked both of us. Obviously we know there are drug problems in Vietnam, but to be confronted with it so blatantly makes it really hit home just how widespread and ingrained the problem must be.

Not wanting to stop anywhere, we ate our cheese baguettes cycling along, and made it quickly to the big city. There were loads of hotels, but seeing a posh one Mikey went in to negotiate. It was very nice, but they wanted 50!!!! They also got very snooty about me waiting outside with my dirty bike, and sent two people out to get rid of me.  We got them back pretending to misunderstand and Mikey took his bike into their smart lobby and wheeled it around making a nice mess.

Having arrived early, we checked out several more options before deciding on the Apec Hotel, who had the most hilarious staff we’ve encountered for a long time as well as a good room for 8. The happy friendly cleaners and the bats little girl at the reception desk were fun as was the little old lady who took Mikey’s hand and led him to the lift to show him the room, but the security guard was definitely our favourite. He held my bike whilst I unloaded it, then raced off with it. I followed him with the locks and turned the corner to see him freewheeling down into the garage! (Security guards riding the bikes hasn’t happened for a while although, it was frequent in India.) When he came back he complained to Mikey that his bike was too big (the seat was at his chest level) and then danced like a lunatic when we showed him the radio. He also carried all our bags to the room for us then pointed out the shower and said we needed one – true.

We spent a relaxing afternoon in the room reading up on the road ahead. Other cyclists’ blogs have made us feel much better about not enjoying ourselves too much. Everyone says this stretch is horrible and loads abandoned their plans and took a train/bus to miss it out. (Actually loads also wanted to get a bus/train but couldn’t get anyone to help them who wasn’t ripping them off and had to cycle on instead!) We’re going to stick with it and do long days to hopefully get to the sun and interesting areas further south!

Wandering around town, people were actually friendly and calm. There’s a nice park in the centre of town and lots of them were power-walking around getting fit, overlooked by an enormous statue of Ho Chi. Apparently he was born near here. We also found out that the city was the most heavily bombed in the whole country during the war. We managed to find a great restaurant, where they gave us our own private family booth and with the help of the phrase book we ordered beef, rice and veg. (I’m very worried about accidently ordering dog so we have to keep checking). They did French fries especially for us and despite not asking the price first, they didn’t rip us off at all, which was lovely! There were several power cuts throughout the meal which were undoubtedly caused by the pylon we had seen on fire a few streets away. We ran off quickly, but no one else seemed concerned, least of all the person’s house it was outside.

Wandering back to the Apec, via a snack shop for chocolate, we wondered why it was that despite what we had seen today, and lots of youths shouting at us at points, and of course everyone ripping us off, we didn’t feel threatened/worried. We worked out it was because all the men are very small, and therefore not scary! Mikey has been loving not being the 'Little Man’ since we left the big guys behind in Eastern Europe.

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Comments

Amanda Mae on

V. glad that Mikey made a nice mess in the protentious hotel - sounds like the hotel you found was the best thing, I love the security guard, I hope you find more like him xx

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