Enticed by Thoughts of a Beach - This Time Tomorrow - CycleBlaze

November 22, 2016

Enticed by Thoughts of a Beach

Hue to Chan May Beach

Dear little friends,

Our Kiwi pal, Hugh, whom we met at the Valentine Hotel, had chugged on ahead of us to the beach area east of Danang and we heard good reports from him about sunshine and swimming. The weather in Hue had been oppressively humid and even though my hand was really hurting we decided to carry on.

My doctor had sent me recommendations on what antibiotics were safe for me to take since the sting or bite or whatever it was was still red, itchy, swelling, and becoming more painful. I am allergic to penicillin and others and an outbreak of hives is not what I wanted on top of owie hand. I had tried to lance it myself with a sterile knife but it turns out that the skin on your palms is about five feet thick and doesn’t give up without a fight so pioneer medicine wasn’t going to be adequate. We made a decision that if it was still bad we would go to the hospital in Danang, but first we had to get there.

The charming staff at the Valentine Hotel (we had moved there after an unpleasant night in a funky nha nghi our first night in Hue) were out to see us load up. One of them was so excited she took a short hop on my bike and wobbled up and down the lane. Then we were on our way.

Bruce had taken a keen interest in nearby sights in Hue as I sweatily nursed my hand and he had a sightseeing tour planned for our first day back on the road. We headed southeast of town, visited an old Japanese bridge, and rode lovely back roads surrounded by watery fields.

It's a watery world in central Vietnam in November
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The old Japanese bridge
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There is a little shrine inside the Japanese bridge.
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Teak boards worn from many butts. This bridge has flooded numerous times according to a nearby flood gauge.
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A perfect place to raise ducks
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We turned toward the beach and immediately passed a “Com Binh Dan” and screeched to a halt even though our breakfast hadn’t been that long before. When you see one as nice as this one you stop, because a) they are like huckleberries in a Montana forest, they are where they are and they ain’t where they ain’t, no telling when you’ll see one this good again; and b) the lady called out in a friendly way. It was a good decision, her food was amazing. I guess I should add reason c) too. The food is already cooked and sitting out all day, so you don’t want to eat it for dinner, it’s not as safe as at lunchtime.

"Com Binh Dan" is one of our favorite signs along the road. Our food was excellent, fresh, and very cheap.
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Closer to the coast there are hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of graves. It’s ridiculous. I don’t know why everybody wants to get buried by the sea but it’s a thing. And some of these graves are enormous. According to our Lonely Planet guidebook some of the biggest, most colorful graves are of “Viet Kieu”, Vietnamese-Americans who had their bodies returned to the homeland. The road got fairly rough at times too. Then we were passed by about 30 foreigners on bikes going toward Hue, unloaded of course. It was afternoon by then and they had a ways to go and looked a little tired and stressed. I would hate being in a tour group like that but that’s just me.

Miles o' graves
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There was a coffee stop to get out of the sun and then we realized that we had better get a move on ourselves. There was a long bay to ride along, and a bit of a pass, and then no choice but to go to the evil AH1. Not only is it evil but there was a tunnel with a “no bikes” sign! It was 4:30 or so and this was a pretty kettle of fish. A nice guy told us we could use the very narrow sidewalk, so we unloaded the bikes, hoisted them up the steps, reloaded them, put our lights on, and entered the jaws of hell. The noise. The exhaust. The feeling that the foundation of our sidewalk was not quite stable. The wire rings embedded in the sidewalk we had to avoid. Yikes.

The tide was coming in to the bay. We could see for miles up north, and far out to sea.
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An inland bay before the tunnel
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Entering the Gates of Hell
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Emerging from the Gates of Hell
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At the other end I stupidly let Bruce take the loaded bikes back down the steps. The guy had hernia surgery in January, folks. He’ll be okay but it wasn’t good for him. But I was basically down to one hand, the other one with extra tissue padding stuffed into my glove. We had a few miles on AH1 to ride on in the dusk with a thousand schoolkids getting out of class. Every day they ride this terribly busy highway in the near dark, it gave me the heebiejeebies watching them fecklessly rolling along next to buses and trucks.

Finally we were able to get off the highway. We’re not fond of riding in the dark but there was little traffic. We were riding through this sandy scrub hoping that we were going to find a place to stay out here in nowhere-land. But we knew there was a small beach community, we just had to find it.

Bruce stopped a few yards shy of a quiet looking intersection. He was pretty concerned. I looked at Google maps and saw about three nha nghi within 100 yards after the next left, and when we turned the corner the street was lit up with cafes and bars and stuff we couldn’t look at too closely because we were bouncing around on the road so much.

A lady stopped her motorcycle and said, "What do you need?"

"Nha Nghi."

"Oh, I have a hotel!" Her face lit up and she was very happy.

She wanted us to stay several days and enjoy the beach and we might have done that but things started going wrong at her little hotel. For one thing, she didn’t live there, but nearby, which was odd. We were supposedly the only ones there, she told us to use the kitchen, to have the run of the place. But a while later some drunk guy (maybe her husband?) showed up and tried our room door, oh that’s my favorite. He was making quite a racket and probably a neighbor called her so she came back in time to get Mr. Charming tucked into a room away from us to sleep it off.

There isn’t a beach in the world that would have enticed us to stay another night. But during the night there was a huge thunderclap and then hours of pouring, pouring rain. I’m not fond of riding in the rain at all. My hand was hurting. The next day’s choices were either over the Hai Van Pass in the rain or taking the tunnel shuttle on AH1 or holed up at the Scary Guy Motel. Muddling about these three choices in the night I got up to pee and nearly slipped on the water leaking from the ceiling that missed our open panniers by inches. Sometimes decisions happen for you.

Today's ride: 47 miles (76 km)
Total: 473 miles (761 km)

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