HCMC Dining Guide

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

H2H Day 4: Letting it rip

Quan Lao to Tinh Gia - 68km

After five days of riding, I've come to realize that it is difficult to write well about this trip. There are so many little moments and interactions as your ride along that it is impossible to remember them all, so all of these posts are missing things I've simply forgotten. I've also been too tired to put in my usual effort with words, so I feel that these posts are lacking the verve that my travel posts normally have. I'm essentially doing blow-by-blow reports just to get the details out there. I hope to go back at some point and expand and improve the prose, so bear with me if you find these a bit dry.

Although Quan Lao was a pretty developed town, for some odd reason there was little in the way of food. None of us had realized how spoiled we were to live in the land of gastronomic plenty that is Saigon: none of the street food we were used to had been available at any of our stops, and we were getting tired of having to look hard just for basic meals. As a result, Phong and I left early to hit a bike shop in Thanh Hoa, a large city we would be passing through on our way to Tinh Gia, without even eating breakfast. We needed some gear for the group, so we hit the road for the 28km to town.

A little ways in we stopped on the side of the road and ended up joining four local men for some strong northern tobacco. We were now functioning on nothing but water and what we had smoked.

We powered on at a 27-28kph pace and hit dirty Thanh Hoa a while later. The bike shop didn't have much of what we needed, and Phong and I decided to get a massive lunch after the rest of the group caught up and took off.

looking like a tourist
The rest of the way to Tinh Gia would be on Highway 1, the relatively smooth but very busy road that stretches from Saigon to Hanoi. We had 41km to go, so we decided to simply cane it and get away from the careening, honking buses and trucks.

One of my few remaining gears allowed me to keep up a steady pace of 27-28kph (17 mph), and we stayed at that for most of the time. The highway was fine, with the exception of the occasional scrotum-shattering speedbumps, and we passed five other riders after a while. There wasn't much to look at, just rice paddies and scruffy towns, so there was little reason to slow down, and my mechanical problems of the first two days were no more. Although there was finally some sunshine breaking through the solid overcast!

We made it to Tinh Gia and turned onto the road leading to the town's beach, where we would be staying for the night. We were heading back inland the next day, so everyone was excited to be on the coast. The beach was a surreal place: the interaction of the cool water with the warm air resulted in a dense fog, and the atmosphere was straight out of a movie. We had arrived at about 1pm, so we had loads of time to kill, and the rest of the day consisted of drinking, throwing a frisbee around, and playing soccer with some local boys on the beach. The next day, a 92km jaunt to Do Luong, would be our longest yet, and we were all curious to see how that would go. I'll cover that next.
rice paddy near the hotel
the beach

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