Hoi An to Tam Ky - This Time Tomorrow - CycleBlaze

November 29, 2016

Hoi An to Tam Ky

It Had to Happen

Hoi An to Tam Ky 36 miles

November 29, 2016

It Had to Happen

I walked from our hotel to the old part of Hoi An first thing in the morning to experience the world heritage town tourist -free one more time. Clouds were ominous and while I was walking the near deserted streets it did in fact start raining lightly.

We were definitely planning on riding whether it rained or not. Rain is no big deal to most cyclists. You may or may not believe this but we had never toured in rain, not even once! Our entire first trip through four S.E. Asian countries for four months two years ago, we never saw a drop of rain! After a month on the road I even boldly (possibly stupidly) sent my rain gear home. But Vietnam has a whole different weather pattern in winter than the rest of S.E. Asia. We pretty much knew we would be riding in rain at some point. In some ways we were actually looking forward to experiencing such a thing as rain. And, of course, it had to eventually happen, just as a flat tire must happen some day; another experience we have been spared thus far.

So, we pushed off from our hotel in a medium rainfall. I needed to change money so we stopped at a bank before leaving Hoi An. Usually the bank requires my passport and then lots of paperwork is filled out, but not this bank. The guy I dealt with was a rather rough character and at times during the transaction I thought maybe he had just stepped in from being a parking attendant or security guard. I gave him a hundred dollar bill and he looked it over and put it in his pocket! Then he got his wallet out and looked through all his money. I guess he decided he didn’t have enough Dong for me so he disappeared for a time. He eventually returned with a fist full of ratty Dong notes. He counted out what he needed and shoved the pile across the counter. Then he shoved the rest of the money in his own pocket! What was going on! He never showed any interest in my passport and I left the bank laughing at the strangeness of it all. Moments like this one, I can’t wait to tell Andrea what happened.

Then we got on the road and rather quickly took a wrong turn and by the time we realized it we were far enough away to not consider retracing our tracks but instead figure out a short cut to where we really needed to be. Those short cuts are always risky business but we were already in new territory called RAIN so we might as well let all our hair down.

We were immediately on a sketchy road in the country but we could see the big new bridge in the distance which we knew we had to cross. We aimed at the bridge. Actually I like seeing the odd thing in the countryside when we make wrong turns. This time the new odd thing was rows of palm fronds lined up neatly on either side of the dike-like road we were on. I have no idea why people had placed them there so precisely and tightly. I doubt they could have prevented any sort of erosion but the banks of the road did slope down to water. It looked like the area was flooded but it also looked sort of mangrove-like too. But I’ve never seen palms growing in water before so I really didn’t understand any of it. Mangrove palms? We kept aiming for the big bridge.

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Bamboo and a coracle.
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Palm fronds meticulously placed along the road.
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The big new bridge goes over the silted up river on which Hoi An is situated. Across the river the road continued straight and wide; also brand new. We rode on it nearly owning it because there was no one around. There were no houses or businesses along the new road either. In fact it was incredibly boring to be riding straight as an arrow on a brand new road with nothing around. Even the vegetation was boring. The road was so new that Google Maps didn’t show it but we figured we were going in the right direction because; a.) The road hadn’t turned, and, b.) We knew we were paralleling the ocean, in fact we could hear the waves at times. We figured the new road went all the way to the only town of any size called Tam Ky.

Big new highway
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After about 18 miles we decided it was just a little too boring. The road surface couldn’t have been better but we needed more. Maybe the rain had something to do with it. The rain was boring. It evened out the monotonous landscape into a gray plain. We needed something more than what that road was giving us so when we came to a road that went in the direction of the ocean we took it.

Sometimes roads along the ocean have loads of character but this one did not. Again, there were no towns or very many houses. The ocean was rough with gray clouds hanging low over it. The only thing growing on the sand were Australian pines, one of my least favorite trees. They always seem to grow really well near beaches anywhere in the world. They are scraggly, misshapen sorry excuses for trees and normally I love trees, any kind of tree. This species of pine is maybe just a little too successful. Plus, they leave tons of needles on top of the otherwise soft sand and the needles are scratchy, not nice to walk on barefoot. In my opinion the pines have little going for them except maybe that they hold down the sand. These were very small trees as if the entire area had been bulldozed recently and the pines had just come.

Beach road
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If that big new road was part of big new plans to build big resorts on the ocean it hadn’t happened yet. We’ve learned that a big, wide, nice, new road in the middle of nowhere is a very good indication that the area is about to change and usually with big high-rise hotels or resorts taking the lead. There seems to be a lot of those plans (dreams) along Vietnam’s coast. But for now there were only the pines.

Young Australian pines
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We had hoped to find a nice Nha Nghi near the beach or in a small seaside town but we found nothing and seeing on the map a larger town, Tam Ky, a couple of miles inland, we decided we needed to head for it. The rain had not let up and in fact had gotten a lot heavier. My rain gear was working but Andrea’s was not. She had worn hers to and from work for an entire Portland winter and its effectiveness had been compromised.

On the way to Tam Ky we rode through a lot of water on the road. All of this was new to us and I must say we were dealing with it pretty well until we got to Tam Ky. As we rode down the main street the rain got a lot heavier and we were not seeing any hotels at all. We were drenched to the bone and I could hardly even see because my glasses were so wet.

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But through my fogged up glasses I saw a woman on the sidewalk frying bananas. I brake for fried bananas! She waved us over and under an awning and sat us down on small plastic chairs at a small plastic table. She was quite welcoming and we ate a couple of fried bananas right out of the hot oil. That’s when they are the best but I wanted a couple of them to go as well since it was doubtful we would be finding dinner or would be up for going back out in the rain to look for dinner. The woman was sympathetic to us and wanted us to stay and have tea but we felt as though we had better find a hotel to dry off in. We asked her if there was such a place and she waved her hand down the street in a positive way.

Smiling we waved goodbye to the fried banana woman. We found a very large old hotel down the street just as she had indicated and with the front completely open we rode our bikes right into the enormous lobby area. It was a bleak sort of hotel but we were way beyond being picky. In a place like Tam Ky and in an old hotel such as this one was, it is pretty much guaranteed that the young guy at the front desk speaks no English and maybe has never even seen another tourist stay there. But through Google Translate we figured things out and got a rather dismal room. Dismal or not, we were out of the rain which came down harder and harder.

We could even hear the rain in our windowless room and occasionally we wandered around the empty hallways and up various stairways to find a window onto the street so we could see just how hard it was raining. We hoped the clouds would release all their holdings by morning.


Today's ride: 36 miles (58 km)
Total: 529 miles (851 km)

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Jen Grumby"I brake for fried bananas" - might be a nice sticker for the rear window of your car?
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