Happy Hours - This Time Tomorrow - CycleBlaze

December 20, 2016

Happy Hours

Tan An to Ben Tre

Dec 20-21, 2016

Dear little friends,

There seemed to be a lot of coming and going in our Nha Nghi during the night. In the morning a hardened lady tried to charge us for a water that we didn’t drink, and still overcharged us for our room. There was definitely an unpleasant vibe there. But of course, a traveler has the ultimate luxury of rolling into the street and leaving bad vibes behind like a cat knocking over a jar of incense sticks. Not that our cat has ever done such a naughty thing.

At the corner was a lovely banh mi lady. She pulled out plastic stools for us to perch on as we waited for her to make ours. We had a short uncomplicated ride to Ben Tre, which we were grateful for. Our Canadian pals that we had met up with in Hanoi had been barnstorming through Vietnam and had said good things about Ben Tre and the delta area overall. They were at the moment boarding a bus in Sa Dec heading to Ho Chi Minh City to catch a plane to South Africa.

And a fine Banh mi it was.
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The highway was fairly busy and noisy and it was muggy out, as usual. We stopped in My Tho for coffee, I headed to the sink to wash my hands and when I returned Bruce had ordered for us, two ice cream coffees with peanuts on top. It’s the little things in life, ya know? Since we weren’t in a hurry we could linger over our coffee and watch some feckless fellows lean bamboo ladders against tree branches so they could hang more lights over the coffee area. They kept everybody there entertained with their death-defying feats.

A manger scene in the making. These guys will spray paint it brown or gray or black to represent the mountain cave that Jesus was born in.
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As it happens sometimes, we had missed a major turn in My Tho and had to make a short detour to get back on track, so our uncomplicated route did end up on a small street with a ridiculous amount of construction, piles of gravel, and huge potholes and all. Such is our fate.

A detour we wished we hadn't taken.
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There was a gargantuan bridge to cross before Ben Tre and our lane was narrow and full of motorbikes. There was a little sheltered area where we could stop so Bruce could take photos and I could try to stop my knees from knocking. At the other end were endless displays of coconut candy, a local delicacy that nobody seemed to be buying.

The bridge between My Tho and Ben Tre.
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My smile shouldn't fool anybody, I'm terrified up there.
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This is our first glimpse of the Mekong since we left it in Stung Treng, Cambodia almost exactly two years ago. This is only one of its several enormous branches here in the delta.
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Big coconut candy displays outside of Ben Tre.
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More candy.
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Toddy and Al had instructed us on which hotel to stay at and in which rooms (ending in 14) to get the best view of the river in Ben Tre, and sure enough, it was a great room that we really loved. It was near the market and as we wandered around we met a couple who live in London, Jimmy and his wife Lettie. We had a nice chat and agreed to meet for a beer later, and before that Jimmy stopped by our hotel and fine-tuned Bruce’s shifting which had been slowly turning more shiftless and lazy. It had been a long stint in Vietnam without meeting other compatible travelers so this was a real treat for us.

We loved this room in Ben Tre.
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A beautiful colonial-era building in Ben Tre.
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Moto-orchid Man.
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They grow so many different varieties of rice in Vietnam.
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Until just a few days ago you could put your restaurant spoons out and the rain would wash them for you.
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The next day we lazed around in our beautiful room and watched the sunrise and boats going up and down the river, then went to the market again and met another lovely couple, Will and Yasmin, also from London, these folks were actual bike tourists and were just finishing up a loop in Vietnam and Cambodia as part of a larger, longer tour. So more beer and conversation, and that may have to hold us for another long dry spell of not meeting fun travelers.

Com Tam (rice with pork) in the Ben Tre market. With a fried egg, lovely cucumbers, and savory sauce, it's one of our standbys.
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There are things to do in Ben Tre that we did not do. You can rent bikes and ride around and explore back roads and such, but guess what? We do that every day and on much nicer bikes than rentals. Mostly what we need on rest days is to rest, and eat, scrub a few clothes and hang them where we can. Our bikes take us every day to amazing interesting places we absolutely would not see if we took a bus from town to town. So we loaf and catch up (ha!) on the journal and read the news and watch American movies on tv with Vietnamese subtitles. There are papayas to eat and routes to plan, oh, it’s a busy busy life.

A typical breakfast in our room. We finally finished off the muesli we had ever since Hanoi.
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Boats going up and down the river outside our room.
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Today's ride: 24 miles (39 km)
Total: 1,129 miles (1,817 km)

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