46 days away
30 km / 19 miles since last post
24,672 km / 15,330 miles total
It was weird waking up this morning in a room with no natural daylight. I think I woke up a couple of times in the night to check the time, as I knew we would be waking up in the dark and wouldn't be able to tell when it was morning.
We had breakfast in the hotel first thing and then met the group at 8am. Outside the hotel we jumped in a couple of taxis which took us to the place we would be picking up our bicycles for the day.
We followed a local guide, with Thanh along for the ride too. He took us out of the main part of town and through a small village, where we could get off our bikes and take a wander through. All the people there seemed very friendly and smiled and said hello as we walked through.
We were on the bikes for about an hour or so, and then returned to the place where we picked them up. We had the option to keep the bikes all day or return them now, and we all decided to keep them for the rest of the day (except Pat who found cycling a bit uncomfortable and headed back to the markets to sort out some clothes she'd had made yesterday). It was a nice ride, but a hot day and quite humid. We all decided to cycle to a nearby bar where we could grab a refreshing drink.
Andy left us after a drink as he had some clothes being made that he had to have a fitting for. The rest of us got back on the bikes and headed towards the beach. It was a great flat ride so nice and easy.
Along the way we went through a small market area and decided to stop and have a look through. It was the same sort of stuff as at the markets in the centre of Hoi An. The only difference here was the act that they didn't hassle you to buy anything. I guess they don't get so many tourists coming here - seems more of a market for locals.
We got back on the bikes again, and headed to the beach. Once there, we took a walk onto the sand and up to the water. It looked quite inviting, as it was really hot by now. The beach itself looked quite nice too. After a bit of a wander along the beach, we decided to head back to a restaurant we had noticed along the way for lunch. It looked very inviting as it was situated on the river on stilts.
It was only a brief ten minute ride back to the restaurant. We locked up the bikes outside, and were invited in to a big table overlooking the river. It was nice and cool here too.
Most of the dishes were a little expensive (relatively to the rest of Vietnam) but we managed to find a few reasonably priced dishes. The food was tasty too, so a good choice all round.
We rode back into town, and some of the group had to go back to the markets for fittings for their clothes. Michelle, Fran, Stu and I continued to ride around for a bit, and then Michelle and Fran headed of in separate directions back to the markets too. Stu and I rode back to the markets near the river. There was a short footbridge which went over the river, and we rode over it and found some nice spots so Stu could take a few pictures.
Eventually, we rode back to the hotel. Once back inside we were feeling a bit hot and tired, so decided to check out the hotel rooftop pool. Luckily, when we went up there was nobody else there. The water was lovely and cool - and made me feel cool for the first time today! The pool isn't huge, but big enough to do a bit of swimming in. It was such a relaxing way to cool down. Stu had also bought a couple of beers and plugged his iPod into our small speaker so we could listen to some music - perfect!
After an hour or so in the pool we went back to the room to get showered and changed, ready to meet everyone else back at the bike hire place. We saw Thanh, Natalie, Isabel, Monique and Mia outside the hotel ready to head back on their bikes too. Thanh led the way for us, but as we were trying to cross one of the junctions, Mia didn't quite make it past the traffic. I stopped and waited for her, and saw that she was just making it across the junction, so continued cycling. A few seconds later I couldn't see her behind me. I called to the others to slow down but I don't think they could hear me over the traffic. I stopped again to wait for Mia but I still could not see her. I wasn't entirely sure of the directions to get to the bike hire place, so didn't want to lose the others so had to start cycling again. When I caught up with everyone I shouted for them to stop as I couldn't see Mia behind us. Thanh headed back to the hotel to try and find her, but came back with no luck. We decided to head on to the bike hire place thinking she may have gone a different way. Sure enough, when we arrived Mia was waiting there for us - panic over!
It turned out that where we had hired the bikes from was also where the home was of the local family who were feeding us dinner this evening. We went into their home and they had set up a big table for us in their front room. They told us to go to the fridge and pick a drink, and then take a seat.
We had a lovely meal, and there was loads of food. We had squid, vegetables, chicken, pork, rice, tofu - a real feast.
Whilst we ate, there was a small child in the family who kept making an appearance too - very sweet. She didn't seem at all shy to have all these foreign strangers in her home.
After we left the family home, we wandered back to the hotel via the riverside. It looked even prettier at night with the footbridge lit up, lateens everywhere and even huge dragon and lion lanterns along the river. Stu attempted some night shots but didn't have his tripod with him - I think we shall be returning tomorrow night with the tripod!
As we walked back to the hotel, we bumped into Tyson and Tegan (from our China tour group) who were riding along on a couple of bikes. Stu shouted out "Tygen!" - and they both still looked round. It was handy that we bumped into each other. We had been conversing over the past few days on Facebook to try and meet up at some point, but it's not easy to arrange when neither of us have regular internet access. We were able to have a quick catch up, and arrange to meet them the following night for dinner - as there is nothing arranged with the group for tomorrow night. They said they are really enjoying Vietnam too. They are doing more or less the same journey as us, except they are not part of an organised tour and are doing it by themselves. It sounds like Vietnam is an easy place to get by on your own - unlike China!