Upping the mileage

Monday 4th December

Miles: 82   Climbing: 656ft

I couldn’t wait to get away from Sam Son and I needed to do a few more miles today so I got an early start. The jet lag has been helping with that too. There was no breakfast to wait for at the hotel so I woke the night porter up at 6am to let me out. I was pleased to see that the underground parking lot had been locked overnight.

My breakfast consisted of a couple of Choco Pies which are small foil wrapped chocolate sponge cakes that I had managed to buy a box of last night. They had looked like an easy portable treat but we’re not as tasty as the picture promised.

The ride felt a lot better than yesterday and I told myself that today I would stop and order food.

Just before lunchtime I was overtaken by a westerner on a road bike. He didn’t look like he was cycle touring, his only baggage was a handlebar bag. I couldn’t believe that he didn’t say hello as he passed. I tried to catch up so I could talk to him but he was a lot faster than me and soon enough I passed a place that met my basic food requirements so I stopped.

My ideal place to eat would be somewhere that was clean with a menu that I could understand. I’ve not been finding much of that here so I’ve had to lower my standards. Having pictures of reasonably appetising food on a sign is a bonus, I can always point and hope for the best. This place looked clean and had pictures so before long I was eating some beef noodle soup.

As I set off again I noticed the sound of a bicycle bell across the road. Despite the Vietnamese love of using the horns on their cars and motorbikes I had not heard anyone using a bell on a bicycle so I looked across to see two cycle tourers waving at me. These were the first ones I’d seen and I waved so enthusiastically that I nearly fell of my bike. I was a bit surprised to see them and the traffic was heavy so by the time I had thought to stop or turn around to talk to them it was too late. I vow to make more of an effort if I see any others.

A little later on I passed a school and the kids must have finished for the day because hundreds of them were coming out of the school. Most on mopeds or electric scooters or bikes and a few were on normal bicycles. When they saw me they all began to wave and shout hello. A few even managed to ask my name or where I came from. They appeared to be really excited to see me and a lot of them rode with me for a few miles.

After about 80 miles I arrived at my hotel. It was another beach resort and although this one also looked like it was very quite for the winter it was still far better than last nights stop. For the first time I saw some Vietnamese cycling for either fun or exercise here.

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