A Washout of a Day - This Time Tomorrow - CycleBlaze

December 6, 2016

A Washout of a Day

Trying to leave Quy Nhon

December 6, 2016

Quy Nhon, Vietnam

A Washout of a Day

This was a completely wasted day, nearly.  No, totally.  Well, except for the food we ate.  It poured all night and was still pouring in the morning when we realized we just couldn't face going back into it and be completely drenched to the bone within seconds and for the entire day again. We have lost track how many days we have done this but it’s getting old.  It looked like an all day rain (which it was).  We contemplated catching a bus or train to take us down the coast about 150 miles to Nha Trang where, everyone tells us, the weather is better.,  But, first coffee. Coffee is always first. It helps the planning process.

We walked across the street to the famous Cafe Xua & Nay where the coffee is overpriced because of the hoity-toity atmosphere they provide. It’s connected with, maybe owned by?, the big huge enormous hotel right next door, in fact they share a walkway.  The place is right on the beach too and, oddly, this coffee house has a swimming pool! 

The Cafe Xua & Nay’s claim to fame is that it’s one of the oldest wooden houses in the country. Built in 1832 (coincidentally the year the Cham released control of the entire southern half of the country after more than 1600 years of control) it sits sort of within the rest of the coffee house - an old wooden house within the coffee house. The old house is super gorgeous; all dark carved wood, probably rose wood or iron wood, with accordion-type doors on every side so that it can be totally breezy. 

The rest of the restaurant has little in the way of a roof, relying instead on lots of trees and netting-like-stuff that wasn't working too well in the extreme rain.  There is a one-foot-wide moat in the tiled floor around the entire old house which was kind of cool until after it down-poured for a while it overflowed and all the tiled areas were flooded.  

The waiter wanted to seat us in the newer area where the floor was tile and the roof was non-existent. He did not want to seat us inside the old part for some unknown reason so we seated ourselves inside the old house while he looked irritated. I wasn’t very interested in his irritation and more interested in trying to keep ourselves dry. I mean, who wants to sit in the rain drinking overpriced coffee a few feet outside the biggest tourist attraction in town? I understand how snow can come blasting in on a north blizzard wind only to pile itself up a foot away from the north wall of the house but I didn’t come blasting in with the rain to remain seated in it several feet outside the old house. What was with him? He looked hurt or demeaned too. He was young, with attitude.  We have seen so few people with attitude like that (like no one) that I couldn't deal with him at all.  Wrong country buddy!   

So, there inside this gorgeous, dark-wood, beautifully carved, antique house we obtained the wifi password from a different waiter and started researching our options about taking a train or bus.

Concentration was cut severely due to a woman at the next table who was unloading on two men about something or other.  Man, she was really worked up and the worst part was that she had one of those high-squealed voices that when stressed (and man was she stressed) turns into something that grates on my nerves. I’m sorry, this is one tone that I really can’t tolerate. So, there was that and trying to figure out what was to see down the coast and if we missed something would it really matter in the grand scheme of things.  

We never saw that first waiter again, by the way.  I was wondering if he was irritated that I was wearing shorts and look like an old Hippie.  I was in the midst of deep self-analysis and not able to concentrate on whether it was completely necessary to see some ancient Cham towers in such and such town or if that beach was expensive or what the road was like.  Was it my looks?  I looked around and everyone in that old antique part was someone.  I mean, they were wealthy Vietnamese.  All Vietnamese.  Probably they had all stayed in the next door slightly-connected Huge Enormous and fancy hotel and might be offended by some Westerner in shorts with a braid who looked like he just got off a Bike Friday (sand stuck to legs).  But I couldn't concentrate or deeply analyze with that voice of hers which was quite loud mind you.  

I looked at her for the first time.  You know....I gave her THE look.  She looked at me startled for a split second that I would give her THE look and she gave me a look, but her look wasn’t THE look.  Before my eyes had come to hers - before I gave her THE look - they had swept past the two guys she was talking to (at) and had taken note. The one directly opposite the woman was playing with a spoon in his coffee. The other guy was completely engrossed in his cell phone and not paying one bit of attention to her.  Neither was giving her any attention which I nearly burst out laughing at initially but by then I was in THE look and I had to keep it going for a second or two to make my point.

It didn't matter one bit.  I turned back and she screeched on. THE look was all I could attempt and it was back to trying to decide what to do about our trip, and life in general since a bike trip is a microcosm for one's entire life I figure.  Moving through life, constantly moving, everything changing constantly, dealing with problems hoping not to be killed etc.  And dealing with rain.  

It's just unbelievable how much it has rained.  I am certain it rained five inches just today.  That’s just today!  An inch or more fell while we watched the moat in the tile rise and overflow. We had to get out of there.  

A bit of the moat around the 1832 house at Cafe Xua & Nay.
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Cafe Xua & Nay's 1832 house.
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Cafe Xua & Nay. The 1832 house.
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The beach in front of Cafe Xua & Nay
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We left the coffee place and checked out of our room before noon and rode to the bus station where, as we rode in, a man asked us where we wanted to go and he pointed across the street to a bus/travel company.  I figured he was steering us to a private company that charged more so I ignored him and went inside to find out the scoop about buses to Nha Trang.  

The woman behind the counter wanted to just play with her phone but I forced her to deal with me.  She said, "No bus."  And went back to her phone.  I said, "No bus to Nha Trang?"  She said, "No" and pointed across the street to the same private bus/travel place the man had.

We went over there and the woman who was at a computer reluctantly broke free of its commands and said, "No."  She actually said we could go to Nha Trang tomorrow but not our bikes because it was a minivan place.  It was too bad because it was actually kind of a good deal - the price I mean.  But our bikes screwed up that deal.   I couldn't believe there were no big buses to Nha Trang. 

We rode to the train station after some confusion as to where it was.  At one point we were at a roundabout studying our devices and seeing where the train station was but every time we chose one of the streets off the roundabout we would look again and we would be going in the wrong direction.  How could this be?  I was starting to think the GPS was waterlogged.  After we had gone down and back every one of the streets radiating from the roundabout we realized we were standing right in front of the train station every time we tried to figure out which way to go.  It was a bad day.

The woman who sold tickets was asleep inside the ticket booth, stretched out on several straight-back chairs she had lined up.  I've never been the kind of person who could wake anyone from sleep but this was ridiculous.  I cleared my throat a few times loudly and eventually she woke up and had to deal with me.  She said, "No."  She meant that, no, the bikes could not go with us on the same train.  They have to go on a freight train that was a later train.  We have heard this before and that it's all right and works out.  But I don't believe it is all right because it only takes once to not work out and then what?  Oh well, your bikes are gone.  Too bad.   Do we just trust?  I don't know.  It would be one thing to put the bikes on the train and then we get on our train later.  But leaving unlocked bikes with a woman who falls asleep is not something I want to do.  It seems to me something is very wrong with this system of transporting bikes on trains. Plus, are we then traveling with all the panniers?  No one could answer these questions because that sleepy woman didn't speak one word of English and didn't care to slog through translation on my phone.  She just wanted to sleep.  I left bewildered/irritated with the Vietnamese systems of buses and trains.  It's their weak point.

Then, to calm my nerves and since we were in the vicinity, I wanted to go to the central market.  I always feel better buying peanuts, bananas, mangos, papayas and oranges.  Plus, we hadn't eaten and there is usually some good food at central markets, if a bit dubious dirt wise.  Andrea said the central market was in a different place than I thought. She is usually right so I went with her location but it ended up to not be there at all. At that point we were so far away from where I thought the central market was that it wasn’t worth going back, not in heavy rain. Andrea wanted to go another few blocks to the ocean front.  

On the way we saw a woman making banh xeo which is a little tiny omelette thing that really isn't anything like an omelette but that’s how it’s always described. It's crispy and has bean sprouts and one whole small shrimp in it and is folded over on itself.  Then you place it in a rice paper with some greens (always dubious dirt wise) and dip it into three different tasty sauces (really dubious since they sit on the table for days on end) of which only two were tasty today.  The banh xeo was being made by a great old woman who we both really liked.  Her set-up was right out of the middle ages.  She had six little charcoal stoves blazing where she was making her little pancake things in small cast iron pans.  It looked like she had been sitting  there doing that same thing for the last half century.  And maybe she has.  She was nice to us.  She said, "Yes." to everything.  She was a “Yes” person and didn’t know “No” like all the other people we had dealt with.  She should work at a bus or train station.  We hadn't experienced banh xeo yet so that was fun plus we hadn't eaten anything yet.

Banh Xeo chef extraordinaire.
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Then we got back on our bikes, still fully loaded because we thought we were leaving this town called Monsoon.  But we only got two doors down and had to pull in because of a fruit shake place.  Good fruit shake places (sinh to) are hard to find and this one looked exceptional.  We enjoyed two mango shakes.  And I took out the two fried bananas I bought earlier on the way to the bus station which I forgot to tell you about.  One of the fried bananas turned out to be fake! - just the crispy covering and no banana inside!  How can that even happen?  It was banana shape!  Just another thing gone wrong today! 

Some fried bananas are great but all need to be eaten while hot.
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Then we were riding along the waterfront when the skies really opened up. I wasn't interested in being drenched to the bone since it was looking a lot like we weren't going anywhere today so we ducked under an awning and sat there for at least an hour and a half.  During that time it rained so hard that people's trash bins were floating past us down the street.  That was one of the more amusing parts of the entire day sad to say.  We watched as drains plugged with the trash that everyone throws everywhere and thus the streets were flooded.  Motor bikes, misjudging the depths, stalled out.  At least two inches of rain fell while we sat there watching and discussing what it would be like to be homeless.  

The main beach of Quy Nhon.
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Waiting out a huge downpour pondering how awful it would be to be homeless.
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Jen GrumbyPondering the worst .. yet Andrea's smile still shines for her Extraordinary Travel Partner!

Makes me think of the Muppets song "Life's a Happy Song" .. when there's someone by your side to sing along ..

Good thing you two had each other in Monsoonville!
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1 year ago

We couldn't wait all day for the rain to stop, unless we were homeless, so we rode along the waterfront back in the direction of our previously vacated hotel.  I got drenched.  Andrea's two dollar poncho kept her sort of dry.  Wanting in the worst way to save face and not return to the same hotel we went next door - a different hotel.  But the next door hotel woman saw us and started laughing and talking to someone inside. Face was not saved. I imagine she was saying, “Get a load of these big-time cyclists. Sure they rode all the way from Hanoi.”   She should go across the street to the famous coffee house.  There’s probably still that screechy-voiced woman over there who would like someone to listen to her.  They could have a good laugh at our expense and I’m sure the waiter would have something to add.

The green hotel our first night in Quy Nhon and the second night in the red one. Kind of embarrassing.
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Then, we went a couple doors down from our new hotel to a travel agency.  That woman was busy eating noodle soup and when I asked about a bus to Nha Trang she stopped eating noodles long enough to dial the phone for me.  I talked to someone who really didn't have a grasp of English about a bus.  The woman on the other end was very interested in getting us to Nha Trang but for about $40 which is way way way overpriced.  I kept asking her if it was a big bus and she kept lying to me that it was.  I am fairly certain it was a minibus and they were just trying to make a bunch of money.  She was so interested in selling us tickets that she said she would come over to arrange it.  She asked me several times where our hotel was and I kept lying to her saying that we were on bikes and had no hotel.  She said she could be wherever we were in five minutes.  I smelled a rat and told her no thanks.  No big bus company from the main bus station is going to do that.  She also said they would pick us up in the morning.  That happens in Burma but not here.  It was for sure a scam of some sort that I avoided, maybe the best thing that happened today.

So,we were in our hotel room, which actually is a pretty fun room, for at least a couple hours and there was a knock on the door.  The man from the front desk hands us a post-it note with the price of a bus, a big bus, at the main bus station at 6AM and it's the price it should be, exactly half what that lying woman was asking.  Bikes are always twice as much as an ordinary ticket and we are fine with that if it isn't an inflated, unrealistic price.  

Our unique hotel room. Better than the first night's hotel next door.
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The view from our hotel's window!
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Jen GrumbyWow! That must have been quite an effort to arrange those wires so artistically.. for the enjoyment of hotel guests.
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1 year ago

Now we think we are set to get out of here, at least 150 miles down the road, to possibly better weather.  We really wanted to keep biking. We gave it a good try, in fact, I think we gave it more of a try than anyone would have.  You just wouldn't believe how hard it's been raining and for more than a week now.  The bikes are taking a beating because it’s not just water but sand and water which gets into every moving part. We should just suck it up and say that that’s the way a bike trip goes but enough is enough. I don’t think we will miss much in the next 150 miles and from Nha Trang south for a hundred miles the scenery is supposed to be spectacular.  If it doesn't rain.


Big Huge Hotel on the beach in Quy Nhon
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Rate this entry's writing Heart 4
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Ron SuchanekYou painted a vivid picture. I feel exhausted and wet just reading it.
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1 year ago
Jen GrumbyHow is is that Screech Woman, Rude Waiter Guy, the Bus-Train-NoPeople, and the Scheming Bus Lady all ended up in the same place on the same day?

Glad that Pleasant Banh Xeo Lady was there to sprinkle a little hope for humanity into this bad day!
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1 year ago
Andrea BrownSpeaking of Banh Xeo, I made some for din-din last night!

We also had help from the guy in the market and the hotel that arranged a bus for us. It was a memorable day for all the ups and downs, for sure, but everything turned out just fine.
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1 year ago