HCMC Dining Guide

Saturday, February 25, 2012

On the 22nd Day We Rested Again

Buon Ma Thuot (BMT) in relation to HCMC
Our rest day in BMT, the biggest city in the Central Highlands and the coffee capital of the country (Vietnam is one of the world's largest exporter of the good), was much needed after several days of searing sun, stunningly bad drivers, and pockmarked roads. We rewarded ourselves for completing over 75% of the ride by splashing out on a $25-a-night hotel with a pool. On Thursday night we had a group dinner and then went out in search of a place to do karaoke.

The place we went to didn't have any English songs, so we tried going somewhere else, but ended up only finding a 'discotheque' in the basement of a hotel. Over half the group decided to just go home, but a few of us were determined to have a fun night so we agreed to make the best out of the situation. We were the only Westerners in the place, which was actually just a strobe-lit whorehouse. The number of hookers and bouncers was at least double the number of patrons, and no one was dancing. We took over the small dance floor and had a good time, under the unsure gaze of scantily-clad "entertainers" and angry-looking heavies.

places like this are just weird
a bevy of prostitutes, Tom, and some bouncers
The music was pretty terrible, but we still enjoyed ourselves and vowed to search for karaoke again the next night. The following day, the rest day itself, consisted of lazing by the pool, relaxing in the hotel room, and another meal at KFC. When it came time for karaoke, only eight of us manned up to go, and we found an acceptable parlor at the Heavenly Horse Hotel. One of the support van drivers came with and brought along a bottle of bourbon. He simply sat there watching us sing while pouring shots for us. After a couple hours of awful renditions of a wide variety of songs we headed back to our hotel for one more night of sleep in the comfy beds.

We're now just over 400km from Saigon, and with just five cycling days left (including today), the end of the ride is rapidly approaching. It's hard to believe how far we've come since leaving Hanoi on the 3rd, and the past three weeks have started to blur together. This adventure is going by extremely quickly, and it will definitely take a couple of days to adjust and integrate back into the routine of working in Saigon.

We have a short ride ahead of us today, just 48km, but the next two are going to be over 100km, so we still have some hard cycling ahead of us. It seems like nearly everyone in the group has some sort of wound from the road, and we've certainly taken our lumps, proof that this isn't just a month-long vacation. Traffic will be getting heavier and heavier as we approach hyperactive Saigon, so we will have to remain on our toes, a lesson learned through the crashes of the days leading up to our arrival in BMT. We're also far enough south now that the tropical heat is coming at us full-bore, which makes the strain of the ride that much more taxing. All of that being said though, we're in pretty good spirits, and we're all starting to feel a sense of accomplishment with the end nearing. Today, we ride on.

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