Happiness - Harmony - Home - This Time Tomorrow - CycleBlaze

December 9, 2016

Happiness - Harmony - Home

Nha Trang to the Beach at Dao Hoa Vang

Nha Trang to the beach at Dao Hoa Vang 46 miles

December 9, 2016

Happiness - Harmony - Home

When you have a bike that feels good when you get on it, even fully loaded, and it rolls so fine, as do ours even after what they have gone through recently with water and sand, it almost always feels all right to leave a place. If that place had a weird vibe it’s even easier to leave. Nha Trang had an ever so slight vibe that didn’t agree with us.

Maybe it was all the rain. Maybe it was all the dour looking Russians we never had the occasion to interact with. Maybe it was because I was unable to get the geyser of sewage image out of my head. It was a few feet from the beach and the river of sewage carved through the beach sand to the ocean. I wasn’t about to swim in the ocean. Imagine this on Miami Beach since this is basically the Miami Beach of Vietnam. Maybe it was our friend telling us how he got robbed on the street by men posing as security guards! And I had read about other scams and thievery to watch out for in Nha Trang. Maybe it was the two guys at our hotel who were so incredibly adamant about us NOT locking our bikes. Maybe put it all together and I had my guard up during our stay in Nha Trang. I don’t like that feeling.

It’s a pity because I really liked Nha Trang otherwise. I think it has huge potential to be THE beach experience in Vietnam. I had seen pictures of how beautiful the water is when it isn’t full of muddy (or worse) runoff. It was gorgeous and I liked the layout of the city a lot. The river full of colorful fishing boats and the hills on the opposite side full, the ancient Cham temple area and a street lined with seafood restaurants all made for a diverse place not just a beach town. Seafood was everywhere and not expensive. Nha Trang is a great city but not perfect for us.

On our way out of town we stopped for our usual 2 banh mi to go into Andrea’s handlebar bag for later consumption. Immediately I felt all the tension I had been feeling evaporate. I was taking photos of the banh mi maker as I do everyday. Her stall neighbor was doing something with coconut milk and plastic bags and I photographed her as well. Somehow I was making them laugh. To be able to enter the average person’s life in a fun way is what our bike trip is all about. It feels right to us to be on their level, joking around. Who needs to worry about one’s back pack being snatched? We already felt better about everything.

Every morning a different but always delicious Banh Mi. And always a little interaction with the Banh Mi maker.
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We cruised out of town on a beautiful divided road. After a few miles it became two-lane and led us onto a promontory jutting into the ocean. The road wasn’t steep, just winding and beautiful with the ocean right there and no buildings to obscure the view.

Once around the promontory the road became perfectly straight and divided again and with tile sidewalks; the sure sign of big time development dreams. The only things between us and the ocean were enormous sand dunes which were being scooped out and hauled away to make way for huge resorts and condos. Apparently the Vietnamese see no reason to keep the protective barrier the dunes provide. The dunes were so tall and enormous that they certainly must have taken thousands of years to develop. But I’m sure the Vietnamese government required and approved the environmental impact statements before issuing permits!!!

Removing gigantic sand dunes is always a bad idea.
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We were quite astonished at the number and size of the buildings under construction. This is a building boom that dwarfs any building boom that ever occurred on the north American continent. It’s astounding what’s going on in Vietnam. This is not the first time we’ve seen such building right on the beaches. I honestly don’t know how the hundreds of thousands of rooms, which will be “Coming Soon”, are going to be filled. Anyone staying in the resorts will have to be quite rich. Maybe they are counting on rich Chinese coming in planeloads. But the Vietnamese hate the Chinese! How will that work? The motto on one of the billboards advertising luxury condos was, “Happiness - Harmony - Home”. How nice.

The type of hotels replacing the sand dunes. This one is actually one of the smaller ones.
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More development along the coast.
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There was a strong north wind at our backs so we didn’t have to look at the destruction of natural habitat for too long. Soon we were turning onto a bridge that would lead us a little further inland to skirt the town of Cam Ranh and Cam Ranh Bay, a place name I remember hearing in the news all the time when I was a kid. There must have been a big navel base there during the war.

On the bridge we were buffeted by a sideways wind that must have been 25mph. There was a place for pedestrians to walk but it was just a bit narrow for a loaded bike. We tried anyway. It would have been fine if there hadn’t been any wind but the structure of the bridge with a large round metal tube which rolled up and down, serpentine manner, on the outer part of the bridge meant that we were alternately protected from the wind and then buffeted. As we moved along on the too narrow sidewalk we could never get our balance. It was funny but frustrating at the same time. It was unsettling to not be able to ever get our balance and constantly trying to not crash into the sides. All I was trying to do was seek Harmony.

The bridge to Cam Ranh.
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When we made it across the bridge there were an unusual number of nice modern cafes, almost one after the other. We pulled into one of them for our daily coffee and we decided to eat our banh mi’s there as well. It really doesn’t get any better than this: sitting in a nice place drinking some of the best coffee in the world and eating a delicious 45 cent sandwich. Oh, and the coffee places always give you all the ice tea you want for free and often the flavor is really nice. The air temperature was hot but we were eating a lot of ice and basically having a blast. It was pure Happiness.

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The ride all the way around Cam Ranh Bay on one of our least favorite roads, the big noisy, busy, QL1, seemed to take forever. We had our sights set on a beach and it seemed a long way off. Maybe everything seemed to be taking a long time because all we really could think about was the beach we were headed to. There were beach camping sites in three different places and we were anxious to try out our tent which we had been lugging also seemingly forever.

We see a lot of these signs to watch out for older people crossing the streets.
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Finally we left the big highway and took a little shortcut to the road that would lead towards the ocean. Suddenly we were riding directly at a rock face which resembled a mini Half Dome. There was evidence that the road we were on had been completely under water a day or two before. Lucky for us it had quickly receded. A few miles on the road pointing us towards the ocean and we turned onto an even smaller road which was quite steep to begin with. It was so small it seemed like someone’s driveway. It undulated steeply, and it seemed like we were getting nowhere. To compound the feeling, we really didn’t know where we were going or what to expect.

What I call Mini Half Dome.
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The countryside was quite different from anything we had seen. The hills were strewn with rocks with character; lots of interesting shapes. In some areas there were cashew nut trees. At times we thought we were hearing hornbills but I hesitate to say that for sure. ‘Exotic’ will suffice. I saw a live snake on the road and tried to warn Andrea behind me, but she simply wondered what I was waving for. Cows crossed our path and then we were down in a low area seeing the remnants of what must have been quite a flood. We started down one road and people ran waving NO NO NO that we couldn’t go that way. We went down another road, also quite washed out, and found a guest house at its end.

Nearing the beach.
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Cam Ranh Bay in the distance.
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Cashew nut trees standing in flood water.
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The rooms were too expensive for us but we were told we could camp on the beach. A woman led us down to the beach and dining area. There we set up our tent actually inside a corner of the dining area because we were not sure if it was going to pour down rain again and we didn’t feel like having a wet tent to pack up in the morning. I think the people might have thought we were wimps but we didn’t care. We ordered a beer and two mugs of ice; again wimps. We went down to the ocean to sit on the sand and celebrate having made it to the beach to camp.

Beer on the beach.
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There was one other person there, a young guy from Holland who was staying in the dorm quite a bit away from the beach. He was also touring on a bike although he had not ridden from Europe but from Hanoi as we had. He was the first cycle tourist we had met so it was fun to exchange information.

We had a delicious meal of seafood right there on the beach which was a working beach. Lobster traps lined the area off shore each one marked with a buoy. I’m so impressed with how the Vietnamese are farming the ocean. Some of the area was an oyster farm too. But the beach itself was unaffected by all the ocean farming.

Since it was the start of the weekend, a really nice Vietnamese family, three generations, arrived from Saigon and also a group of college age Vietnamese city kids. They added lots of life to the place. No one was bothered by anyone else and no one seemed to care about our tent either. It was Happiness - Harmony - Home for us all.


Camping under a roof - more like glamping. The restaurant is a few steps away.
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Today's ride: 46 miles (74 km)
Total: 825 miles (1,328 km)

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