HCMC Dining Guide

Thursday, April 11, 2013

H2H 2013 Day 8: A Wet Beauty

Day eight was another short one - 53km from Huong Khe to Dong Le. We took advantage of the great hotel in the former town (and the fact that the latter location isn't particularly nice) and slept in for an extra hour. It was drizzling when we set off, but we were assured of spectacular scenery on the Ho Chi Minh Highway and AH15 on our way.

There was the occasional close encounter with large trucks:

But the rest of the ride consisted of verdant mountains draped in low-hanging clouds, creating an almost mythical atmosphere that lent itself to incredible pictures (when it was dry enough to get the camera out).

 There was one main hill on the day, but it wasn't much of a bother after all the distance we've covered so far. One thing I have noticed after cycling through this area twice is that very few foreigners must come through - the locals are among the most excitable we encounter along the way. I was out front and while I rode along I could hear calls of 'nguoi tay! nguoi tay!' (westerner! westerner!) echoing through the hamlets as children called their friends and family to the road. I imagine the riders behind me received quite the raucous welcome. I still get a kick out of seeing people react when you are the first member of the group to ride by. I scared the shit out of couple of kids on accident when I shouted 'hello!' from behind when they had no idea I was coming.

I also encountered the most difficult traffic jam yet about 15km from Dong Le - the entire student body of a middle school as it poured out of the front gate on foot and bicycle. I wound my way through about 300 kids as they shouted, high-fived, and generally went berserk. I was worried I would get knocked off the bike, but that didn't happen.

After arriving in town (around 11:30) we quickly discovered an excellent pork banh mi stand near our hotel. The lovely family running the place was happy to have our business, and their sandwiches were delicious.


Once everyone was settled Adam threw out the idea to visit Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, home to the world's largest cave, which is in the area. After some arranging our van drivers took 15 of us out there (a 90 minute drive) for a visit. I'll discuss this in a separate post, but here are a few pictures to whet your appetite:




Overall the consensus seemed to be that this had been the best day of the ride so far. The scenery was stunning, the drizzle kept things cool, and it even dried out by the time we reached Dong Le. And the visit to Phong Nha was an unexpected treat. The following day would bring us back to long distances, with a 93km ride to Dong Hoi.

Finally, if you'd like to donate to H2H, please visit: https://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/michaeltatarski/h2h-charity-bike-ride-2013. We've raising nearly $30,000 for charity so far, but we're aiming for $50,000.

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