Tam Ky to Quang Ngai - This Time Tomorrow - CycleBlaze

November 30, 2016

Tam Ky to Quang Ngai

Dreams of Sun and a Beautiful Beach Bungalow

Tam Ky to Quang Ngai 58.5 miles

November 30, 2016

Dreams of Sun and a Beautiful Beach Bungalow

The rain never let up all night. When we came down to the huge lobby area (more like a garage two semi-truck cabs could fit in and devoid of furniture) the rain was pounding any pavement that wasn’t already under water. We simply figured that this is what it’s like to ride in the rain. We raincoated up and left only to be completely soaked within minutes.

Also, within minutes, we stopped to have two banh mi made for us. It’s always good to have a banh mi sandwich or two in the bank (Andrea’s handlebar bag), as insurance. We have found that in rural Vietnam food (lunch or dinner) can be found or not found and there are specific times each type of food is most likely to be found. Banh mi, for instance, are made in the mornings, usually only in the mornings. Noodle soup is a morning thing too and com binh dan (rice with whatever she has made and placed in stainless steel trays) is ready around 11:30AM but is usually gone or looking pretty gone by about 1:00PM - a narrow window of opportunity. The Vietnamese are quite strict about these times and meals and we have lost out completely several times. So, my philosophy is to eat whenever I see something good. Andrew Zimmern, of Bizarre Foods fame, has a motto, “If it looks good, eat it.” The saying applies in Vietnam for reasons of timing.

First thing of the day; buy banh mi sandwiches.
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With two banh mi in Andrea’s handlebar bag we took off south down the main street of fairly large Tam Ky city trying to avoid rush hour motorbikes and gravel street repairs. It was raining heavily. The main street joined with big bad intimidating AH1; the largest highway in Vietnam which stretches up and down the entire country. It’s the main route for large buses and trucks. Fortunately AH1 is in pretty good shape, sometimes four lanes with a concrete divider in the middle and has a nice wide shoulder. But it wasn’t that fun especially in heavy rain. The honking is probably the worst aspect of the highway. Honking in Vietnam is excessive and usually doesn’t make one bit of sense.

Cycling on AH1 we had to have breaks. Coffee is everywhere but it’s a little bit expensive which makes it taste even better and is more of a treat for us. We stopped for coffee. The drip method the Vietnamese employ with their coffee is S-L-O-W. This particular coffee was dripping extra slowly which we contemplated whether it would mean ‘extra delicious’. It was actually and we savored every drop. One must savor Vietnamese coffee because the portions are usually quite small. But the coffee is quite strong as well so we add ice to stretch and dilute it. Mmm, so good. And here I never even drank coffee until I was in my late 40’s.

Waiting for coffee to drip.
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Waiting for the drip process.
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The miles ticked away on AH1. We frequently were blasted by mist from trucks and the rain never let up but we were not having a horrible time. We were dealing with what was before us quite well I thought.

We stopped for lunch since we saw what looked like a good com binh dan place, saving the banh mi for later. What makes a good looking com binh dan place you might ask? If there are many piles of freshly cooked foods in the trays my brakes are automatically applied. Their electricity had gone out but that made everything more cozy. They brought us a candle and it was quite romantic, a good place. The women were really nice to us, the food was good quality and good variety and there was a baby. There is always a baby and when we can ogle over a baby it just makes everyone happier. It’s funny how that works. The people immediately have a warmer view of us. Not that they have a dim view of us in the first place because they don’t at all. The baby represents universal language and love. One thing that we’ve noticed in Vietnam is that the people really love their babies, more so than anywhere we’ve been. So, to connect with that love is bigger than stopping to eat their food. Food is food but babies, man, babies are love.

Com binh dan by candlelight.
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There are so many babies in this country.
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Ogling performed, we rode off only to come to a section of AH1 that was under construction. The newly coated asphalt which was the entire left side of the highway was free of vehicles and construction. It was basically finished but no vehicles were yet allowed on it. We did away with that notion and rode around the ropes like it was nobody’s business. It was smooth and wide and all ours. That went on for at least two miles with the right part of the highway jammed with trucks and buses. We felt pretty smug until a huge bus on the right side, moving fast, hit a major mud puddle. There was an enormous wave that hit us dead on. It seemed like the entire puddle had been removed from the road and thrown onto us. I felt like I was back in high school surfing - surfing on a bike. It really took us by surprise and we were more careful how smug we got after that.

Lots of trucks on AH1.
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Then, where the construction ended and we had to return to the usual AH1 there was a huge jam-up. There was an ambulance, trucks trucks trucks, buses galore and a pick up truck that decided to turn around backing up nearly into Andrea. It was minor chaos for a bit but soon we were back on the shoulder of AH1.

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Things come and go quickly in Asia.
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I had seen some hotels listed near the ocean at a beach that looked nice on Google Maps. I wanted to try to find them. I always have visions of nice little beach bungalows cheap enough for us to stay in and on a pristine beach. Palm trees, coconuts, mangos and someone dropping olives (or fried bananas) into my mouth…..dreams, just dreams.

We got off the dreaded AH1 and immediately everything went quiet. There were rice fields, a flooded little road in terrible condition, frogs croaking and people surprised to see us. I was lost in the silence. We were each lost in the silence as we picked our way this way and that stopping often to consult Google Maps on my waterproof phone.

Eventually we came to the ocean. We first went north on the road along the beach and found dozens of open-air restaurants, one right next to the other extending for blocks. They were completely vacant, abandoned feeling. It was like going to an amusement center in the dead of winter when there is three feet of snow on everything. In this case it felt like three feet of water. The road was flowing. I could imagine all the fun that went on there but it sure wasn’t happening now. It was obviously an incredibly popular place for Vietnamese tourists maybe on weekends since there were no places to stay. I have never seen so many similar non-permanent restaurants. It was kind of amazing to think that that many people would be there sometimes because at the moment we were the ONLY ONES there, in a downpour.

Strange deserted place that sometimes sees lots of activity.
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Drenched but still smiling.
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Jen GrumbyThat smile just made my day!
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2 years ago
Bruce LellmanTo Jen GrumbyI'm glad you like this one of Andrea. I, personally, love this photo of her. And this was right at the height of some of the toughest times of our trip - one of the worst days. She's an adventurer with a smile.
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2 years ago

There were no hotels. Well, that’s not true, there was one hotel. It was a big square box of an old, wooden hotel so dilapidated that it looked a lot like driftwood. It also looked haunted. I took one look at it and that screech music in Psycho entered my head; when the big knife is coming in repeatedly into the shower and blood circles the drain. I thought it would be an experience to stay there for sure but standing there in a flowing street dripping wet I couldn’t get too excited about what that experience would be. An experience in mildew for sure. We turned around and rode south.

We rode through a little village, again, a very rough road and people excited and surprised to see us. We looked hard but we didn’t find a place to stay. Google Maps lies. We rode all the way through the village to the inlet with no bridge across. Nothing. Nothing but rain. Nothing but riding through deep water. We had ridden 50 miles at that point and all we could do was turn around and head the 7 or 8 miles inland to the big city. Dreams of the nice beach bungalow dashed, we headed for Quang Ngai.

At least the road from the beach to Quang Ngai was one of those huge improvement projects. It was a wide divided road with a wide shoulder and a wide tiled sidewalk. Few vehicles were using it and only a few houses had been built along it. I’m sure developers have dreams of building big resorts out there but so far they were only dreams similar to my dreams. It seemed we were going slightly up hill and against the wind the entire way to Quang Ngai. Raindrops stung my face. We were tired, demoralized even angry about finding nothing out there at the beach. Mostly we were tired of the rain. It’s one thing to finally have the experience of riding in rain but it was extreme rain all day. A long day.

Finally we reached the town of Quang Ngai and pulled in to the first Nha Nghi we saw at the edge of town. The street in front of it was knee deep in flowing water and we didn’t want to go any further. It was a nice newish Nha Nghi and the woman was super nice to us. For once our room was on the ground floor and there was plenty of room inside the lobby area for our dripping bikes along next to a bunch of motorbikes. Plenty of room to drape soggy rain gear.

We needed to try to dry ourselves out and let a lot of our stuff drip. As always, the room came with a fan mounted on the wall and the owner gave us a floor fan from their living quarters in addition. We did not attempt to go find dinner but finally ate our banh mi sandwiches. It had been a long, wet, frustrating day to be sure but we had done it; more than 58 miles through torrential rain. An accomplishment and initiation to the cycle touring club. Still, however, we have not had to change a flat tire.


Today's ride: 58 miles (93 km)
Total: 587 miles (945 km)

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