The Buddha Didn't Care - This Time Tomorrow - CycleBlaze

December 5, 2016

The Buddha Didn't Care

Chanh Thien to Quy Nhon

Dear little friends,

There’s the awkward silence as you leave a guesthouse where nobody speaks English and the place has the stink of failure all over it. An giant empty room designed for wedding receptions complete with karaoke stage was completely empty except for our bikes leaning against one forlorn wall. The only thing to break the tension was the tiny bike that the little kid at the house had leaned against ours in a moment of anticipatory traveler’s camaraderie. The good thing was that our room was only 250,000 dong, the cheapest yet. And they had good shampoo.

Besides having good shampoo, our room also had a good fan.
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"Can I go with you?"
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The rain had stopped during the night and we were greeted by a flock of brown ducks swimming flotilla-style in the flooded rice field. The road was bumpy and puddled and passing motorcyclists went by without comment. We had entered another part of Vietnam where people seemed more reserved and less likely to call out greetings or turn and smile. It certainly wasn’t because of a lot of exposure to foreign tourists, there was no indication of any at all.

At the crossroads out of town we stopped for a banh mi takeaway and the banh mi lady seemed irritated by Bruce photographing her, apparently not aware that if you make a banh mi for Bruce you WILL be photographed by him, it’s part of the price. Her relatives squatted behind her chopping sticks into smaller bits of wood suitable for feeding into a grill. Everybody has a job to do.

An atypically serious banh mi maker.
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Making grill-ready wood chips.
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The road was beautiful and freshly washed, the air humid and warm, we seemed to be swimming as much as riding through the semi-flooded fields. I was sweaty of course. Bruce had plotted the course for us to Quy Nhon, a beach town where we could live the good life again. This is what lures us onward, right?

Water everywhere in places.
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“Three small bumps and we’re there,” he assured me. Bruce sometimes has an optimistic view of what terrain maps have to tell him but, oh well. Onward and forward.

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The banh mi were for lunch, first we needed breakfast. The pho place was post-morning rush, with a million wads of tissue and squeezed limes on the floor, always a good sign in Vietnam. The baby rolled around in her walker and Grandpa alternately cooed and scoffed at her affectionately. Mum and Grandma plopped down bowls of delicious pho. Donald Trump looked down from the Vietnamese news channel with the sound turned off.

We must be nearing the coast, the cemeteries are multiplying again.
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A haystack of rice straw.
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Merrily we rolled along until we discovered the three bumps were actually short, steep passes. I was still gun-shy after yesterday’s encounter with the maw of death, aka deep stone Andrea-sucking ditch. Cursing as usual we pushed to the top and cruised (cautiously) to the bottom. The last pass had an alluring restaurant that was probably full of cold icy drinks and a sweeping view of the beach but somehow we passed that by and took the sweeping beach photos from a gravel pit.

Gravity is not my friend.
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Never mind, now gravity is my friend.
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A beautiful Vietnamese beach.
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Some ambitious monument/temple/Giant Buddha/tourist magnet development was going on. The Buddha was still headless except for some scaffolding. Bruce asked me to take his photo and I didn’t lock my brake so the bike fell on me and it was one more bruise for art and glory. My legs and feet look terrible. The Buddha didn’t care.

Buddha in progress.
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Then there was another ambitiously overbuilt boulevard, straight as an arrow and beastly hot, for miles, going to nowhere. A sad little tree shaded our banh mi picnic and then with a tailwind of 15 mph we were riding along at 20 mph. What with all my complaining about rain and injuries I have failed to mention that we have had delicious tailwinds ever since Hanoi. If we had had to do the same trip heading north this trip would already be over.

The ten miles of unused sidewalk on the boulevard to nowhere.
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So we zoomed along the desolate boulevard, crossed a monstrous inlet bridge with a 30 mph side wind, and could finally see the highrises of Quy Nhon in the distance. And a huge dark cloud. Once we shakily survived the bridge we booked it until we were right at the edge of town but the rain started and we pulled into a soggy looking seafood restaurant and stalled with a shared beer as the waiters played with their phones and waited for real customers.

All the seafood we could be eating instead of sharing a cheap beer to get out of the rain. But... is that shark's fin I saw on the menu? Fie.
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After a half hour it seemed to stop, we put on our rain gear and headed onto the final stretch to the waterfront where a cluster of hotels were. The first one had a lady who called us in and we climbed the stairs and stood on our balcony and watched the rain come and go. We were across from the beach. There were waves, sand, parks, sidewalks, restaurants, coffee, all within our grasp. Around the corner and down a dim little street was a Com Binh Dan with friendly people. After we ate we put our rain gear on again and started back trying to avoid the growing puddles. It was hard to believe we had been on that roasting hot boulevard just a few hours before because our shoes were wet once again and with no end in sight.

The view from our hotel room in Quy Nhon.
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Today's ride: 36 miles (58 km)
Total: 767 miles (1,234 km)

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