Nha Trang to Ea Knop 124km
A late night for us both last night. We ate again at "Good Morning Vietnam" which dish up the best pizzas in Asia. Well worth a visit if you are in Na Trang. Then we chilled.....and went out again, at 9.45pm, really late for us, to the station. Ju was going on her own adventure. She has never before been on an overnight train, and now she was doing it alone, in Vietnam. We smuggled the bike on board, in it's Tardus, so it looked like a large suitcase, (Bikes are meant to go on a separate train....), and hid it under her bunk..... And I slipped away quietly.....trying not to feel too sad....
Hoan, our host at the Perfume Grass Inn, made some suggestions about my route north. I have seven days to cycle about 600 km, before my visa runs out. I'm pretty keen to follow the coast as much as possible. I love cycling along the coast. But Hoan has suggested heading inland. I start north.
For the first time in a week, the sea looks swimable, and even though it is only just after 7am, some are swimming. Newly weds are getting their photos taken on the northern end of the beach (at 7am). The traffic is heavy....big trucks, big busses, transporters, and scooters. Not far out of town, the road deteriorates into the same type of roadworks that Ju and I rode into the city on. Tooting, bustling, squeezing through gaps. Fun, but do I really want to be in this sort of traffic for the next four days?
Then we drop into a bay. It's stunning, but it's the first time I've seen water in 25km. I stop for a drink, and have a look at the map. It looks as if Highway 1 heads away from the coast for a while, and in fact I probably won't see nearly as much water as I hoped. And the roadworks and traffic..... I'm right on the corner, where Hoan suggested I turn inland. I turn up his suggested route. I turn my back on the sea. I will not see an ocean or sea again until the Mediterranean, in about twelve months.
The traffic disappears. Within 100m I'm surrounded by paddy fields. 500m later there are sugarcane fields, cows on the road, pigs running in front of me, and the light is amazing. ( I took 65 photos today). This was the right choice. I stop at 60km for some food. It's 10.45am. Wow those kms went fast.
The next 10km are uphill, but the scenery is amazing, so I hardly notice. I do notice that there are a lot of European faces riding pillion on scooters. I have stumbled on the route used by scooter tours, between Nha Trang and Da Lat. At the top of the climb I meet a group of these scooter tourists. Three clients, two guides/drivers. One guide is also a hiking, and rafting guide. Interesting comparing notes. One of the clients is a young PE Teacher from Long Bay, just north of Auckland. Great chatting to him.
For the first time, today I was offered a tow by a scooter. Here in Asia, they don't actually "tow" you. What they do is place a foot somewhere solid on your bike/scooter, and push you along. So a "foot" rather than a "toe". I turned down the offer. Fiona was going really well today, and I was enjoying riding her. I have altered the carrying dynamics. I am using four panniers and the trailer for the first time. It means everything is very light, and balances the weight evenly over the bike. Feels so much better.
Tonight I skyped Ju. For the first time we are in the same time zone, but after her big night on the train, she is weary, and has a 3am start tomorrow, flying via China, to arrive in Chch Sunday morning. It's been fantastic having her here with me. Please look after her folks, so she's ready for our next adventure in May, in Nepal.