Dreams Remain Drenched - This Time Tomorrow - CycleBlaze

December 2, 2016

Dreams Remain Drenched

Quang Ngai to Tam Quan Bac

Dear little friends,

Our guesthouse on the outskirts of Quang Ngai was situated near a river, on a street that had turned into a river. After our epic ride it was any port in a storm, the rain was thundering down and we rode through calf-high water and pulled into the first Nha Nghi we saw. Well, maybe it was the second or third. Choosing Nha Nghis is sometimes a zen experience, fresh paint and an inviting driveway is enough, no need to compound the soaking by shopping around.

Inside it had a cavernous lobby that people drove their motorbikes right into and the family lived and cooked in an open area right off of that. They were nice, they saw our soaked sad little beings and found an extra fan for our room for us to use for the next two days as we attempted to dry things out. The problem was the 100% humidity of solid rain sheets outside and no way to exhaust the humidity out of our room. The rain ran across the roof like a herd of cattle, and we simply stay put and hung things to dry and ate a Clif bar for dinner.

Two fans, one air conditioner, drying happens at a glacial pace.
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Not a good idea for a healing hand owie to be wet for hours.
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My Brooks saddle was wetter than recommended, which is not wet at all. I guess it is truly broken in now. There was no break in the rain but we weren’t wanting to subsist on Clif bars so we made a run across the river to the main market in Quang Ngai and bought some fruit and milk and had a bowl of pho, the last ones to eat before the cook shuffled her aluminum pots off to clean. Then it was back to our room where we had to start all over again with the drying.

Our booty from the market
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Waiting for a banh mi to take with us for dinner
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It was a day of napping and posting to the journal and rearranging wet things and complaining to others via various messaging apps. We felt that we had truly earned our cycle tourist credentials after our trip two years hadn’t had a single drop of rain, at least while we were riding. Okay, point made, now stop it already. Locals looked at us gravely and said “It’s the rainy season” as if we were idiots to think otherwise. This was disproved later when weather reports indicated that it was a long spell of record rainfall and crops and houses were being ruined. Yeah, we could see that.

Listening to the rain on the roof and thinking deep thoughts.
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Our patience wore thin, the forecast had dim hopes for lessening, so we walked across the street the next morning to a little bodega minimart place and bought a two dollar poncho for me since my $80 Mountain Hardwear jacket didn’t seem inclined to keep me dry longer than fifteen seconds and was akin to wearing Saran Wrap once it was wet.

There were a few poncho management skills for me to master, and options like, tuck or no tuck under the butt, and how to hang onto the front of your poncho when a big truck roars by and it wants to fly up in your face and get you killed. Also, it was 77 degrees and I have a superb sweating mechanism so you can guess the rest. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway, within ten minutes of leaving the rain fell like pancakes on us, the water on the roadway turbo-charged up to our hubs (not that far on twenty-inch wheels, admittedly) and off we went through Quang Ngai and out onto the dreaded AH1.

This is before I discovered my poncho would not actually keep me dry.
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This is the main highway of Vietnam, mind you.
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AH1 wasn’t too bad, actually. There was a pretty wide shoulder and less asshats out than usual so we just charged south as fast as we could. Even Bruce found less reason to stop and photograph the deluge but of course he had to document it somewhat. It was pretty sad, what was happening to vast areas of rice and other crops. At times the rain was so hard it looked like snow and the water like snowy fields.

Yeah, so it's been raining.
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Nobody is dry here. Nobody.
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Might as well spend the day fishing since the crops aren't going to feed them.
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A little beach stop to eat our banh mi, the rain has stopped and somebody is singing karaoke in a shack behind us.
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We had some time during the fan era to scope out what might be a pleasant beach area to hole up in. Tam Quan wasn’t exactly how we thought it would be, but we found a hotel and it was cheaper than we thought it would be and Bruce picked out a nice room with a view of the ocean so things were looking up. This was a fishing village and the somewhat tony hotel was owned by a fishing conglomerate as was the coffeeshop, playground, and enormous restaurant, all deserted. We have since been told that many of these uncannily quiet resorts are money laundering ventures and the owners have little interest in how much money they actually make, which is good because we were the only guests.

Our palatial hotel
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Our palatial lobby, where the girl is napping on a cot down behind the counter.
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Our palatial restaurant
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The bikes wait to get dry.
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Thrilling as it was to have an actual elevator to put all our panniers in, there was also a strange corner bathtub where they all were immediately placed to drain after they got the “butt wand” cleaning they needed. Butt wands, as we call them, are the spray hoses near toilets in Asia. Toilet paper is used to dry off afterward. Some of them are quite powerful and could probably take the paint off my car. They are great for cleaning panniers, but this time the panniers had not just sand and gross water on them but also tiny blobs of tar they picked up on the flooded highway. So did our legs.

Maybe not the use the architect had in mind. By the way, this tub drains from the BOTTOM right onto the floor so it's not as sophisticated as it looks. The water wasn't very hot either.
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Fishing villages can be kind of rube places, no way around it. There was more staring than we have experienced and less warm friendliness, although that is not to say there was none. We ate excellent seafood at the huge echoing restaurant, whipped up in minutes by a young man who went right back to his phone the instant the rice was on our table. We walked on the beach with its beautiful curling waves and less-beautiful littered sand. And in the morning we woke to an unusual sight, the sun rising over the ocean and filling our room with its incredible drying light.

Well, hellOH, beautiful,
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Today's ride: 51 miles (82 km)
Total: 696 miles (1,120 km)

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