Ugly Rain Gear and Lobby Guys - This Time Tomorrow - CycleBlaze

December 7, 2016

Ugly Rain Gear and Lobby Guys

Quy Nhon to Nha Trang

Dec 7-8 Dear little friends,

Admitting defeat by taking the bus isn’t as easy for us as it used to be. We would just rather not. But Quy Nhon had ten days of rain stretching out before us on our weather apps and enough was enough. My sandals were starting to rot. We leaped out of bed early and eagerly hustled to the bus station an hour early. After yesterday’s frustration we were not going to miss the bus that would deliver us from this rainy helltrap.

Our bus to sunshine.
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The driver noted our earliness and for once let us load our own bikes into the bus’s hold. The drive trains got to be on top, and we supported them with panniers tucked in here and there. The only damage we found later was to my headphones that were tucked into what I thought was a pannier adequately padded with clothing. Too bad, I’ve had those cheapo phones for years.

It was an uneventful ride to Nha Trang. The onboard entertainment started with some pretty nice contemporary Vietnamese pop music but devolved into long, long comedy sketch shows that nobody seemed to be watching or laughing at, certainly not us. I have a theory that if you were truly being funny there would be no need for "boing" sound effects but perhaps I'm mistaken. There was wifi onboard so I could message my daughter: “I’m on a bus!”. That is so totally worth it. There was a lot of rain and flooding still going on, road damage, house damage, field damage. But we had high hopes for Nha Trang.

The bus station was several miles outside of town and I was completely focused on getting to the hotel we had mapped out, ignoring all the wonderful food on the side of the road which was pretty annoying to a hungry Bruce. We generally shun food and water before and during bus rides because of the toilet situation (there wasn’t one).

We were riding along the beachside boulevard when a motorcycle guy tried to lead us to a hotel, one that happened to be near the one we wanted. We stopped at his hotel and mumbled, hm, maybe we’ll be back, to be polite, then went on to the one we wanted. He actually came after us and tried to get a kickback from our hotel for leading us there but she had already heard that we found hers on Tripadvisor so he sulked off with a few malevolent looks thrown our way. Things can get complicated so quickly, it is tiresome.

Our room was fine, we settled our bikes where they told us to outside and then campaigned to bring them into the lobby which was already full of rental bikes and a motorcycle. They finally agreed but a couple of random guys questioned us about locking them up. “Are they expensive? Don’t you trust us?” We had no idea if they worked there or were just hanging out there, but it creeped us out. We told them that our bikes are our babies which helped them save face a little as they jeered at us to each other. We were pretty unnerved by their comments because Nha Trang has a reputation for scams and thievery. I kept sending Bruce downstairs to check on the "babies".

Out to the beach for a look-see, and what we looked-saw was days of rain erupting from sewers and pouring down into the surf, which didn’t seem to disturb the Russians out swimming and strolling even though it was cloudy and drizzling. Okay, no beach for us. We explored the neighborhood, which was pretty touristy and the tourists were 90% Russians. We have met nice Russians, I have nothing against Russians per se, but they don’t speak much English and I don’t speak a word of Russian and they don’t seem to talk to anybody else even other Russians. They walked around in their clear rain ponchos which weren’t flattering to be honest, and we walked around in our equally homely rain gear and détente thus far is holding steady.

Why the astroturf on the beach on Nha Trang? We do not know.
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Drizzle tourists in Nha Trang.
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Fashion show in Nha Trang.
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Christmas decorations were starting to appear, especially at large banks, hotels, and tourist-oriented businesses. Some were sparkly snowflake-glitter-Santa lightshows and some were Russian looking manger scenes, so all bases Christmas were covered.

Festive, right? But hey, that's a good-looking bag o' fruit.
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We did find some nearby local eateries to dig into some Com Tam, pork on rice. The tourist restaurants advertised Vietnamese food (along with borscht and doner kabob) but for approximately five times the price we paid two blocks away. An English and Russian menu near the door is not necessarily a sign of good authentic food within, we have found.

Com Tam, pork on rice, with a fried egg and a bowl of soup. Less than a buck.
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The next day we braved the hostile regard of the random lobby guys as they watched us unlock our unstolen bikes. First we rode over a bridge to the Cham temple on the north end of town, it was sticky and muggy and it was full of tourists and their selfie sticks. It’s a pretty old temple but has been restored very clumsily in my opinion. There is a great view of the city and the beach, and a small garden with natural stone outcroppings that I liked far better than the temple. Give me flowers and butterflies any day.

Things you can't take or wear into the temple.
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Before Facebook, there were souvenir tee shirts.
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Before souvenir tee shirts, there were commemorative photo scrolls.
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Before commemorative photo scrolls, there was this.
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Cham Temple, Nha Trang.
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For a tropical climate Vietnam has been kind of stingy with the flowers so this water lily was a treat.
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Next was a ride to the main market, which had a cool 60s design but is slated for demolition so a modern market can be built. 90% of what was being sold in there was crap but there were vegetable stands outside. We met a man whose father was an American soldier that left when he was two and never saw again. He spoke English and Russian and his job was to hustle tourists who were looking for specific things. I was looking for a specific thing as it happens, obscure and expensive batteries for our Steripen, and he facilitated that and now we can make clean water again.

This mural in the Cho (market) is really cool, but doomed.
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This 60s market in Nha Trang is slated for demolition.
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I had one of my wild hare ideas that in a tourist town we could take a break from Vietnamese cuisine much as I love it, so we went out for Indian food. It wasn’t too bad, heavy on the carbs and butter of course, and we certainly couldn’t finish it all. I guess our stomachs have shrunk, which is a good thing. But the forecast was still enticing us south out of the murk, we had a place in mind where we could camp on the beach away from Nha Trang and the tourist ghetto. An easy day’s ride! Who can resist that siren call?

Today's ride: 12 miles (19 km)
Total: 779 miles (1,254 km)

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