One Way to Sell Chickens - This Time Tomorrow - CycleBlaze

December 10, 2016

One Way to Sell Chickens

The Beach at Dao Hoa Vang to Ca Na

December 10, 2016

The beach at Dao Hoa Vang to Ca Na 34 miles

One Way to Sell Chickens

I’m not sure why I initiated our move to leave our beach glamping complete with wifi. We had it all: a beautiful beach pretty much all to ourselves since all the Vietnamese left after breakfast, delicious food a few steps away, comfy chairs, a shower on the beach, wifi and cold drinks at our beck and call. We hadn’t discussed leaving but for some unknown reason I found myself packing up the tent. Andrea was happily chatting with her kids and unbeknownst to her I was preparing our departure. Usually we communicate about such things but fortunately neither of us ever really questions the other’s desires either.

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Lobster traps and coracle paddles.
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Coracles to paddle out to lobstering and oystering operations.
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Andrea chatting.
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It's nice to have a....roof over our tent!
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It's my first experience glamping.
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What a great spot!
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Ordering breakfast.
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We had been moving down the coast slowly for a long time due to rain and Andrea’s hand problem. I guess I wanted to hit the road rather than lie around at a beach for another day. Neither of us is prone to lie around on a beach. I was also watching the weather which I didn’t trust one bit.

As we pushed our bikes through the sand the last thing we saw was a herd of cows walking across the beach and the cook throwing things at them and yelling. I guess there is nothing that can ruin a beach faster than a herd of cows!

It's an odd sight to see cows on a beach. I half expected them to lie down and pass around tanning oil.
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We certainly were not looking forward to the rather strenuous backtracking right off the bat but it had to be done sometime. Back over the roller coaster road, back to the larger road, past Mini Half Dome and then a left, south on the big scary QL1A - Vietnam’s only freeway type road. There were lots of new green rice paddies on either side and in the distance to the west were largish mountains. Not far over there somewhere is Dalat, the French hill station, which we have pretty much decided can wait for a non-bicycle trip to Vietnam. Lots of fields were still flooded. I was surprised when two ancient Cham temples popped up right on the other side of the freeway barriers. Sad that they were a mere feet away because certainly artifacts were lost in the construction of the highway not to mention access cut off to the temples from the freeway.

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Mini Half Dome or 'Quarter Dome'
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Over there in the mountains is Dalat, the former French hill station.
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QL1A is not our idea of cycling but sometimes it has to be taken to get somewhere quickly especially when the wind is at our backs. The road along the coast looked extremely difficult and unknown as to what condition it was in. We always knew what to expect from QL1A. (QL1A is the same as AH1.)

We stopped for com binh dan for lunch. Point at food in the trays and your selection is put on top of a plate of rice. Always some nice ice tea and clear, delicate soup is included. Every place has a similar but different selection. The family running the restaurant was nice and yet again there was a baby. This time the baby didn’t know what to think about Andrea holding him.

Andrea handling babies again.
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Later in the day two men welcomed us enthusiastically into a shop to have a couple of coconuts. For the first time the coconuts had been husked and put in the refrigerator. Brilliant. Being chilled made the juice way more refreshing.

It turned out that the most enthused man was actually selling live chickens on the other side of the highway and was lounging at the other man’s store in-between. (I never would have guessed that.) Three times he jumped up and ran across traffic, vaulting over the center concrete barrier to sell his chickens. I think he sold at least two while we were there but what a bother each time a prospective buyer stopped on the other side of dangerous traffic. But it all fits; I doubt the chicken seller ever considered what he was doing as a bother or dangerous - he got to sit with his friend and drink tea and today was his lucky day; foreigners on bikes!

He had lots of questions but we had nearly no answers in Vietnamese. We have found that if we say we rode from Ha Noi it impresses everyone. We don’t have the words to explain that some of that trip was by bus because of all the rain but if we could they still would be impressed I’m sure. No Vietnamese ride bicycles that far. Maybe they think it’s too dangerous.

Sated with cold coconut juice and the scooped out meat we hit the road again, back avoiding myriad obstacles. Even without rain there are things we have to be constantly aware of. People on motorbikes always pull out in front of us without a thought of taking a glance to their left. Not a thought. Never. Often, once they have themselves on the busiest highway in the country having not looked at all, they then slow down! It seems fairly universal.

Today one guy pulled out right smack in front of me going not more than ten miles per hour and then slowed down to three miles per hour because at that precise moment he realized he wanted a cigarette! Maybe that is his normal routine. Once on the freeway moving at a snail’s pace he has a cigarette to relieve tension! Who knows! We are constantly wondering what in the world people are thinking. But this is their culture. If I were to get mad and yell at someone like him he would think that it is I who is supposed to yield to anyone entering the highway. I have it all wrong. And, in this country he is right; I have to yield to motorbikes as well as a culture.

This is one reason it is so important for anyone to travel in other countries. It opens your mind to other ways of thinking. They may or may not be correct ways but they always point out that there are other ways of doing things than our own. At the very least it makes us think - think about how diverse this world is.

There are also people who are just simply unaware, don’t get me wrong. At one point an older man was trying to manage holding upright a really long metal pipe with an antennae attached on top. A long wire was wiping around from the antennae all the way to a foot off the ground. He was moving out into the highway unaware of anything other than watching his antennae way up on top. He was moving further and further out onto the pavement and the wire was wiping around in the wind. I was on a collision course with the man and the wire and to look behind to see if a huge truck or bus was bearing down on me at the same time was kind of out of the question due to the fact that everything was happening NOW. I didn’t have time. I managed to fit between the wire and the man by an inch on either side and the man never saw me. This sort of spur of the moment possible disaster is a normal daily occurrence for us. We are constantly shaking our heads, wiping our brows and thanking someone who must be looking after us. It is definitely a dangerous country but so are all of the countries in S.E. Asia. Vietnam is just more populated and congested than any we’ve biked.

Andrea said, "Oh come on! Use a clothesline?"
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When the highway aimed straight at the coast but still miles away it started to rain. It wasn’t a hard rain just an irritating rain and any rain would have been irritating considering how much we have seen. We stepped on it thinking there would surely be a Nha Nghi as soon as we hit the ocean.

About two miles from the ocean we started to see fish sauce factories one after another alongside the road. None were large operations but all had a few giant wooden tubs with the stuff brewing inside. This was Fish Sauce Central, man, and the aroma in the air proved it. Actually it was not a rough, crude sort of odor which Burma is filled with when it comes to anything fishy. This was quite a refined smell, a clean fish sauce smell. It actually made me want to try each one as if we were doing a wine tasting at vineyards. In fact, we passed one of the fish sauce places and there was a long table with many men sitting each with a little bowl in front of them. I’m sure it was a tasting. They would have welcomed me in but it would have been awkward to invite myself to a fish sauce tasting. I could do a thumbs up or down in lieu of Vietnamese. I kind of wanted to experience a fish sauce tasting. So disappointing.

Each of the wooden tubs held hundreds of gallons of fish sauce percolating. I have no idea how it is made but I think it takes quite some time. I have yet to figure out why no one gets sick from it. Maybe all the salt? All lI can say is that now that we have been in Vietnam I have a much greater appreciation for fine fish sauce. I understand something about it and I’m sold.

Nuoc Mam - Fish Sauce brewing.
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So, to be in the midst of Fish Sauce Central would have been pretty exciting but we were tired, it was raining and getting late and we needed to find a place for the night. None were popping up. It was just fish sauce this and fish sauce that. In Vietnamese it’s, “Nuoc Mam”. I know the stuff is made from little tiny fish which must mean that this part of the sea has an abundance of the right kind of fish. Otherwise I have no idea why all of the fish sauce places would be right in one town. I’m sure there are others throughout the country but wow, this was impressive. They all had their own bottles, labels and cases in cardboard boxes. stacked on one side of each place. “Yes, I’d like three dozen cases of Thien Thanh Nuoc Mam please.” I wanted to say that but we were on bikes and as I said, it was getting late and the rain and the bit about a place not popping up in front of us.

We rode right to the ocean and yes, there were big hotels but we knew they would be overpriced for little old tightwad us. We actually did stop at one and as I walked up the stairs to the open air reception desk area I had the distinct feeling it was either haunted or something else was going on there because it sure didn’t feel like it was still a hotel. It had the creepiest vibe and no one was around. There was nothing on the desk and it looked as though it had been like that for years. There was a dog sleeping in one of the chairs in the lobby area and it opened one eye at me and then closed it. I walked all the way through the breezeway and then realized the place was on pilings over the ocean! Yikes. All the big windows of each room looked right out at the ocean. In its day the place must have been sort of fancy but now it looked used up and ready to fall into the sea. The curtains were all pulled. All I could see was how old and musty those curtains appeared to be. I didn’t call to Andrea to come up and check it out. I walked back letting the sleeping dog sleep. I said to Andrea, “Let’s get out of here.”

The seaside front of the deserted hotel.
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Next door was a large restaurant and Andrea needed to use a toilet. On the way into the place she met a tall Russian man who then came out to try to help us. It seemed he was living at the restaurant (or maybe next door in that hotel) and he seemed pretty chummy with one of the restaurant workers. He was super nice and wanted to talk. He was a real character and I would have liked to have had the time to talk with him. He understood what we needed and he got his lady friend to get on her motorbike and lead us to a Nha Nghi.

We rode behind her, this time with the strong wind hitting us directly. It was nearly impossible to be close enough to her to see where she turned. I was riding with every ounce of energy I had left. It was a long way back and into town which we hadn’t even seen. We never would have found the place she brought us to nor would the owner have agreed to take us in. Sometimes the Nha Nghi’s have evolved into apartments for locals and the owners just don’t want to bother with foreigners. Whenever they have told us they didn’t have a room we have wondered if that was really true. But we had a Vietnamese go-between this time and she convinced him to give us a room.

Inside our dismal Nha Nghi room which we were happy to have on a rainy night.
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The room was a shabby affair. OK, it was downright depressing. But we only needed to sleep there and attempt to dry things. It was fine and in the end the owner was fine with us being there too. If we hadn’t been so tired it would have been a lot of fun to go back to find that Russian guy and do some drinking of vodka. I guess we are getting older because it was the last thing we could have done. Too bad though, he was a Russian guy I liked a lot right away. He was a character but we were beat. Fish sauce might have revived us and I started regretting not buying those three dozen cases.


Today's ride: 34 miles (55 km)
Total: 859 miles (1,382 km)

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