January 26, 2013
I have obviously had the name of this post in my head since we started the trip and have been just dying to use it. And a good morning it was. The first several miles were along the ocean.
The riding was a bit challenging due to a number of factors. We had been spoiled in Cambodia with such flat terrain and definitely made me slightly lazy, so I was not doing well on the hills we encountered. The towns that we traveled through had a lot more activity, which requires constant attention and can be mentally exhausting. Some days, the miles seem to fly by, but today they dragged on forever. Even the roads between towns were pretty hectic with motorbikes flying into our path from all directions. While it was exciting to be in the middle of so much energy it was also tiring, and we weren’t used to it, so we had a hard time getting into a stride.
Our next major destination was the city of Long Xuyen, but it was too far away for us to make it there in one day from Ha Tien, so we pretty randomly selected a town mid way there called Tri Ton to try and find somewhere to sleep. Usually we do a little bit of research on the next place we’re going and stay at a place someone recommended (crazyguyonabike.com has been a great source for us), however there wasn’t much out there that we could find on Tri Ton, so we were kind of winging it.
When we got there we did a quick tour of the town and didn’t find anything resembling a hotel or guesthouse. We decided to grab a bit to eat and try again. I had done some research the night before and found that people in Vietnam regularly eat vegetarian two or more days every month as part of their Buddhist belief. There are many restaurants catering to meat-less eaters- just look for the word CHAY in the restaurant name. We found a chay restaurant immediately and had noodles, veggies and a few sorts of fake meat.
The ladies at the restaurant didn’t speak English, but we were able to write down the word for hotel and they mimed that there was one up the road. A very kind man insisted upon showing us the way on his motorbike.
When we got there, a big truck was unloading coffins into the parking lot. Luckily they were all only 5 foot long, so they weren’t expecting us. The hotel ended up being great; hot water, clean, with wifi and A/C for just 180,000 dong or $9. We took showers and did a little research for the next day’s route before dinner at the same chay restaurant.
Once we settled in for the night, there was a soft knock at the door by a teenage girl. She was the owners daughter and needed to collect our passports. She also had a little boy with her who wanted to give us a present, two lollypops! Before she left, she invited us to her high school’s English Speaking Club the next morning. We agreed to go for an hour or two. She came back a short while later and asked if we could attend the entire meeting from 7:00am until 11:30am, because otherwise we would miss the show of music and dancing.
We were about to refuse, saying we needed to keep going. We were in a go-go-go mode because we needed to get to Ho Chi Minh City to obtain our Chinese Visas and I need to get some paperwork notarized. However, we didn’t come on our trip to just bike from one place to the next. We quickly realized that we had to jump at opportunities to interact with local people, otherwise we’d just be strange travelers passing through at arms length. Tomorrow’s a rest day!