Day 57:  Thursday 2 March: Hoi An to Binh Thanh: 85km – mostly flat 

There are times when the smallest things are most memorable.  Today we ended up at a family run motel where the ground floor had the family’s kitchen on full view.  We took a room upstairs and, after a shower and a rest, I went off to shop (vegetables and eggs) and then set up the camp stove in the entrance yard to cook our supper.  It was a delight to be cooking and eating our own food after a few days in restaurants.

The entrance to the motel and adjoining family kitchen

The motel owner came over and, using googletranslate, he insisted I use the family’s kitchen to prepare our meal, despite the fact he was cooking at the same time, and once we had started using their facilities, he could not have been more friendly and helpful – all through a nearly insuperable language barrier.  I boiled the eggs – which were large and I think may have been duck eggs – and made noodle egg and tuna pho.  I have to say it was lovely, and we were invited to sit in the family area to eat whilst our host wandered around squatting mosquitos with an electronic device that looked like a badminton racquet.  We felt so welcome and wished we had more Vietnamese to do more than repeatedly say “thank you”.  That level of friendliness and generosity is typical of Vietnam and is part of what has made this trip so special.

Our day started slowly because breakfast was not due to start until 7.30 and it was in fact some time after before we got our omelettes – well worth the wait.  That meant we were not able to leave until about 8.15am, and by then traffic had built up. But this was not a long day and Bernie seemed well over her stomach issues from yesterday(10 hours sleep in a very comfy bed helped), so we could see today working out OK.

 We made our way out of Hoi An city, following the north bank of the river.  Then we cycled over the huge Cau Cua Dai bridge over the Thu Bon river.  As we got to the top we were passed by about 10 cyclists on top of the range road bikes – out for a day trip – with a local guide at the front and back of the group. We later met up with them again (they had stopped) and learned they were on an organised day ride to Tam Ky, so not very far at all!  We were slower but also perhaps felt a bit smug that we were going far further and with much more luggage – but then some of the riders looked super fit and could have out-paced us all day without luggage!

View from the bridge looking towards Hoi An

The road took us along a peninsular caused by the Turong Giang river which runs south for mile after mile, just a kilometer from the sea.  This created a quiet, unspoilt environment although it was fairly populated and had many more cemeteries – a real feature of these coastal strips.  

Wind blown and with even less hair than normal!

We plodded on – taking it gently as we knew we did not have a long day ahead of us, and stopped for “lunch” in a bakery, where we both tried iced coffee for the first time in many years.  By now the rain clouds had admitted defeat and the sun had come out, so it was quite hot for the first time in many days. I can report that Iced Coffee is very refreshing in the heat.

The final section was along a deserted road, squeezed between what appeared to be an abandoned airport and the beach, which had abandoned holiday resorts.  There is something tragic about seeing empty holiday homes, doors flapping in the wind, ceilings collapsing and vegetation gradually taking over.  A series of people must have put their hearts and souls into creating these tourism paradises only to find that the tourists did not come – because of the pandemic or maybe another cause.  So the infrastructure was abandoned.  Some sets of buildings were plainly abandoned before they were even completed, and others may have been used for a few years before being left to the mercy of storms, vegetation and the other causes of decay.  Millions of investment dollars will have been lost and now the rubbish piles up on the road.  It was all pretty sad.  But, in a brutal way, that is the operation of the market and, in the tourism business, it seems a pretty brutal market – all, of course, in a communist country.

Our motel, by contrast, is new, clean and seems a successful business as it started to fill up with guests after we arrived.   We hope so as we have developed a soft spot for this place.

4 thoughts on “Day 57:  Thursday 2 March: Hoi An to Binh Thanh: 85km – mostly flat 

  1. I cycled along that road in 2003 – and you could see all the builing preparation and planning going on – we were really glad we visited then – as it was very unspoilt – however it is such a shame that it all came to nothing. Loving following your posts – thank you

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