January 29, 2013
There was no discussion this morning about whether or not we would take the canal roads again. We both agreed the previous day’s ride was one of our favorites of the entire trip so far. First, we found some sudaphed for Chan’s headcold- medicines are insanely cheap here: there was some serious confusion when Chan tried to pay the lady at the pharmacy ten times what the pills cost, 20 of them ended up costing only about 60 cents. Next we had a quick ferry ride across one of the many branches of the Mekong river (10 cents each).
The canal roads are so peaceful that Chandler and I didn’t care if it took longer or added more miles. The day’s ride was possibly even better than the day before. About ten minutes after turning from the main road, we saw two women working on something. We immediately stopped and I went back for a photo. They were a little shy, but luckily agreed to letting me snap a picture.
When I returned to Chan and the bikes, another lady motioned me over to a metal shack. Inside, a woman was sewing the trim onto the edge of a mat.
We continued to see different aspects of the floor mats creation for the rest of our time along the canals. At one point, Chandler and I were carefully trying to avoid riding on top of mats laid out on the path when along comes a truck. The truck just drove right over the mats, like they weren’t there.
I wish we had room for one of the beautiful mats, but we didn’t think it would fit in our panniers. Unfortunately, we never discovered what the mats are made of or how the material is dyed.
We also passed by a group of men drying some herbs. When Chandler motioned to take a photo, one of the guys pointed at the herbs and then pantomimed smoking a cigarette. Not sure what that meant.
The canal roads are generally in pretty good condition. They varied between concrete panel roads wide enough to get a small truck down, to straight up single track narrow enough that our panniers hit vegetation on either side as we rode through. It wasn’t all bliss, we did end up hitting a little construction and a bridge or two that should have been rebuilt a few patch ups ago.
At that point, we had to join the main highway to get to Vinh Long. We were able to blast through the miles and were averaging 15 mph.
Vinh Long was pretty big and not very touristy. We had trouble finding a cheap decent hotel on our own as we searched near the waterfront so we resorted to the Lonely Planet recommendations which steered us to a dark narrow side street. We ended up in a hotel that seemed nice, if you didn’t look too close. First, there was the ridiculous giant picture of a lion and boy reading a book, then we noticed the tiles in the bathroom had 80’s girls in bikinis all over the walls. The hot water was broken. What was really bad was the hair all over the bed. We slept in our sleeping bags. Certainly not the worst place we’ve stayed, but we would be getting a nice early start the next day!