Look at That Guy! - This Time Tomorrow - CycleBlaze

December 26, 2016

Look at That Guy!

Can Tho to Long Xuyen

Can Tho to Long Xuyen 38.5 miles

December 26, 2016

Look at That Guy

We’ve gotten pretty good at hauling all eight of our panniers from our room to in front of the elevator every morning. Then, when passage to the elevator is completely blocked by our bags, ringing for the elevator and when it arrives quickly placing the bags inside before the elevator warnings go nuts on us. Fortunately there never seems to be anyone else staying at these hotels and we usually have free reign of the elevator. Some are fussier than others about how long the doors stay open. It’s odd that we have nearly always been put in a room at least one flight up. Often the hotels don’t have elevators which means that if the biking hasn’t gotten us in some sort of shape (or exhausted) the horribly steep stairs have finished us. Always the last effort of the day - to haul bags up stairs or to quickly fill elevators. Cycling is more than just cycling.

Our way of filling an elevator.
Heart 0 Comment 0

I think the deal with skinny-tall buildings is that the Vietnamese know they have an impending population problem and building up is their only option. But it also has a lot to do with property ownership that goes way back in time. I think long ago taxes were calculated according to width of property more than length. Most people were not rich enough to own more than about four or five meters in width. Therefore, to this day, most properties are very long, and incredibly narrow. Most hotels we have stayed in fit this description as well. Some are so skinny that there is only one room per floor - one room and the stairs encompasses each floor. They have lots of charm and with no neighbors on the sides the charm enhances.

Can Tho is a fairly large city and navigating out of it at morning rush hour the day after Christmas was sort of hectic but after going over two bridges and one major roundabout we entered into a more serene but industrial area. That’s where we needed our daily fantastic Vietnamese iced coffee. We had had breakfast in our room - muesli and a very ripe papaya. We find that our muesli/fruit breakfasts are delicious, nutritious, cheap and efficient. We rise whenever we rise and eat whenever we want to eat and then leave whenever. We love this about cycling; no bus times to meet or worrying about how to get to the bus station from the hotel.

We found an empty coffee shop with an old woman watching TV. Everyone is always reluctant to deal with us because they don’t know any English. We, on the other hand, have mastered how to order the coffee we like and when we say the words, “Cafe sua da.” it’s music to their ears simply because they understand. Then they jump up eager to make our drinks. Always there is accompanying ice tea which is a nice coffee chaser.

This particular coffee shop had a kind of arbor over the entrance area with a vine we have seen a lot. The type of vine sends out adventitious rootlets which dangle towards the ground. They are there to suck moisture from the air and not necessarily to ever root in the ground. Entering this coffee shop was like entering through a three dimensional living beaded curtain fifteen feet deep and fifteen feet wide. It was pretty cool actually. It’s odd to be in such a dimension with a plant’s rootlets and come upon an old woman glued to a stupid-beyond-belief soap opera.

Entering a coffee shop through adventitious roots.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Oh man, this Vietnamese coffee is the best!
Heart 0 Comment 0

As good as the coffee was that she made for us we had chosen to sit in the wrong spot - under the TV. Once we were sitting back completely content with our drinks she edged the volume up, and up…. AND UP! But she was nice.

The road was really nice. There were very green rice fields and then bridges over waterways and always looking down the waterways was interesting. Some were filled with fishing boats and others filled with boats transporting everything. We passed through a small village where all the shops sold fishing gear. Shop after shop all had the same gear. Lots of nets and fish traps. Then came an area of nursery plants, mostly flowers but some vegetable starts too. It felt like spring time in Portland. Flats of baby plants stretched right out to the road. Every time I stopped to take a photo along this road I felt I was instantly in someone’s way! It was busy. And the number of white paint markings outlining fallen motorbikes and bicycles on the pavement told us how dangerous the road was. Never have I seen so many indications of accidents.

A popular canal fishing region.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Various types of fishing nets.
Heart 0 Comment 0
And various types of fish traps.
Heart 1 Comment 0
A typical canal in the Mekong River Delta.
Heart 0 Comment 0
An area where nursery plants were what everyone was growing and selling. It kind of took up the shoulder too.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Nursery plants. Here vegetable starts.
Heart 1 Comment 0
We have never seen so much evidence of motorbike and/or bicycle accidents.
Heart 1 Comment 0

We went through a small town named Thot Not, which of course opened up my fourth-grader’s-mind and I ‘thot' the name was hilarious. Thot Not’s claim to fame, it seemed, was cone shaped bushes and trees. A Vietnamese Edward Scissorhands must live in Thot Not. It seemed like a very nice town too, just funny how all the bushes in town had the same cut. Who would have thot?

About to enter the town of Thot Not.
Heart 1 Comment 0
The town where the Vietnamese Edward Scissorhands lives - Thot Not.
Heart 0 Comment 0
The town of Thot Not.
Heart 0 Comment 0

We stopped for lunch and had good com binh dan (rice veggies, meat) but with it came the best (and biggest) bowl of soup I think we have had. Also generous amounts of ice and tea were repeatedly given to us. It’s just what we needed on a hot day. (Every day is a hot day.)

Then a little later on we stopped again for coffee. A two coffee day! Unheard of. But it was hot and humid and we needed the ice cool-down more than the coffee. The woman serving us must have figured we needed it too because she kept coming around with an ice bucket filling our mugs with ice. We stuffed our water bottles full of ice and she kept coming around with more.

We were just sitting there sucking ice when I saw a totally nude man walking toward us from off the street. I said, matter-of-factly to Andrea, “Look at that guy.” Andrea looked up and nearly choked on ice. We both hoped the nude man wouldn’t come over to join us. Being foreigners we seem to be attention grabbers and it would be normal for a nude guy to come sit down with us. If he had I guess I would have offered him some ice to suck on. We had plenty.

Apparently he wanted to suck a cigarette instead so he was drawn to a guy not near to us. That guy was taken aback and jumped to his feet and also immediately gave the nude guy a cigarette. I mean, you pretty much do whatever the nude guy wants, is my motto. The man left hurriedly leaving the nude guy to sit there smoking. As awesome as it was, that was not the highlight of our day. That came after we had settled into our room in Long Xuyen.

Doing homework wherever he can.
Heart 0 Comment 0

We found the large, newish really nice hotel, the Hotel Helen Ngoc Giang. We normally don’t go by Lonely Planet’s suggestions for hotels but this time we did since there didn’t seem to be much selection in Long Xuyen. It was really nice and unbelievably cheap @ $9. We were put on the fifth floor but there was a very nice elevator.

We settled into our room, had showers and read the rules, one of which was, “Please keep order, general hygiene, spruce when living in the hotel.” I tried to adhere to the rules. Scanning the area from our high perch I could see a temple on the other side of a small canal. I wanted to visit it since we have seen so few Buddhist temples in Vietnam and I was missing them. It wasn’t far.

We made it across the busy bridge which was mostly non-stop motorbikes and few pedestrians. On the other side we took an immediate right on a small road along the canal. Instantly our world changed. It was as if we were famous movie stars. It was a very poor area and I really doubt foreigners ever walked there. Everyone was extremely excited to see us. Men were shaking my hand and one man even wanted me to marry his daughter. Right there in front of Andrea he indicated I take the woman away to live happily ever after. Andrea didn’t like that idea and made a fist at him and everyone laughed loudly. It was wild and crazy but all in good fun. A fist in jest. I actually felt as if I was in Burma because the good naturedness was of a similar ilk. I love situations like this. I just wish we could all communicate verbally. They, and we, were all so very curious.

Finally, through the gauntlet of fun, we made it to the entrance gates of the temple but they were locked. How strange. But it was as if the purpose of our jaunt to the temple had already been achieved. Goodwill had been attained along the way to the temple and it didn’t matter if we went inside or not.

We then returned to the bridge through the corridor of good naturedness, a spirituality with more immediate concerns and returns than paying our respects at the temple. There were babies to fawn over and we needed to smile a lot and simply be with the people - a lovely people, after their workday, happy to have their routines changed by our presence.

The bridge to the temple in the poor section of town.
Heart 3 Comment 0
The poorest area on the other side of the canal from our hotel.
Heart 1 Comment 0
We felt as if we were walking through living rooms on this street.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Or through people's yards.
Heart 0 Comment 0
The siding is actually wearing off.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Now I feel better about the way our yard looks.
Heart 0 Comment 0
We always cringe when we see kids unprotected on motorbikes.
Heart 3 Comment 0

Next stop was finding some food. Our hotel area was kind of rough but we found some good bun bo hue noodle soup. Again, the owner seemed honored to be making our dinner, honored we had chosen his restaurant.

Bun Bo Hue restaurant.
Heart 1 Comment 0

Back at the hotel I was nearly lying on my back trying to take a photo of the front of the hotel at night. The security guy told me to wait and he went running off. Then, in a flash the whole front of the hotel was ablaze with tons more neon type lights. Much more impressive!

The Hotel Helen Ngoc Giang
Heart 1 Comment 0

Then, in the lobby, we met a foreign cyclist, Mario, a French-Canadien. Mario was an explorer. He was thorough in his explorations. He had spent a month just on The Delta riding back and forth, to the farthest town on the coast and covering just about every road, seeking out temples and towns most tourists would never find because they wouldn’t take the time or have the energy to find them. We exchanged details of information and stories and we hoped we would see each other again someday. I think we will but if we don’t we are in touch. It’s so fun to meet someone like Mario who has a real joie de vivre. There is a woman over near that temple on the other side of the canal who would marry him, and probably live happily ever after.

lovebruce

Heart 1 Comment 0
Happy New Year 2016?
Heart 0 Comment 0

Today's ride: 38 miles (61 km)
Total: 1,217 miles (1,959 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 1
Comment on this entry Comment 0