Monday, March 18th, 2013 – Van Gía to Quy Nhon

Distance travelled today 171 kilometres – Total distance travelled 1051 kilometres

David was, as usual, out on the beach with his camera at dawn. It was a really nice, peaceful little bay.

Once again, we made an early departure. We ate our bananas, retrieved Minh from the hotel lobby and left around seven. On that particular day, the ever evolving plan was to try and get somewhere to stay before we reached the town of Quy Nhon. We were trying to limit our daily distance because, quite frankly, it hurt to ride a long way. Of course, when it came to it, we could not find any place where a hotel could be. Rather than mess about, we gritted our teeth and decided to go all the way into Quy Nhon. According to the Lonely Planet, there were several hotels, beaches and even restaurants.

Overall, the journey was almost boringly beautiful, the road was passable and the traffic was mild. The mountains and coffee trees of the day before were gradually replaced by rice fields. Because it seems possible to farm all year round, there were both bare paddies and also mature, ripe stalks.

There were no longer piles of coffee beans drying beside the road, but there were rice grains, husks and chopped sugar cane drying directly on the carriageway ….. Since it was all drying right in the moped lane of the highway, we had to drive on the road. In addition to the rice in the moped lane, cows sunbathe there, street vendors sell products there, local rice pickers eat their snacks there and children play there. Sometimes, there was a forgotten or neglected agricultural machine, a bicycle or a motorbike.

This was quite a lovely area and some of the sea views were not only beautiful, but also almost iconic to the point of being cliched.

In the whole day, we covered “only” 171 kilometres, but we were both still pretty sore from the previous day and it seemed like far more. Despite the beauty of the scenery through which we were travelling, we could hardly wait to find a hotel and stop.

The final coffee stop of the day was a rare success. We stopped for coffee, decided that we might eat a meal and ended up getting a coconut instead. It was really giant specimen, about a litre of milk flowed out of it and then the lady with the machete chopped a hole in it. I think I can safely declare that I tasted “real” coconut for the very first time. The flesh was completely soft (not at all reminiscent of grated coconut) and the consistency of a ripe pear before it goes soft. The milk was completely different from what was normally sold on the street. It was more fragrant, sweet, milky and buttery. Simply delicious.

Inside the cafe, it was a bit like Mrs. Ba’s back in Vinh Long. The people ranged in age from the tiniest baby up to the oldest generation. They would have liked to chat, but they did not know a single word of English, one of them was even, I think, dumb and unable to speak at all. With my grand total of four Vietnamese words, I had quite a limited list of conversation topics if we did not want to talk about the drink list. The owner was quite smart and humorously handled the conversation with her hands and her facial gestures. In the end I understood that coconut milk does not go as thick as cane juice.

We rode on. At one point we passed a huge gold-painted Buddha on a hill, flanked by some golden acolytes.

As we began to approach Quy Nhon, the road ran on a causeway with paddy fields on one side and what looked like pens for fish upon the other.

We eventually found a hotel with a view of the sea and the beach just across the street. It no longer surprised us that we were invited to park Minh in the reception area.

As soon as we had checked in, I made David come with me to the beach. I did not even let him take a shower first. In addition, to his obvious consternation, I forced him to take his swimming trunks and I did too. The sea was really warm. Paradoxically, I was the one that got burned from the beach in that first and quite accelerated “holiday”step.

In the evening, when we went out to try and find somewhere to eat, there was some kind of festival going on. It had quite a “military” feel to it and large, martial, posters were everywhere.

We found a restaurant selling my heart’s desire, which is seafood. It was quite functional, but the food was good. David had a rice dish that was spicy but pleasant and I had some good crabs !

Sadly, after dinner and not to put too fine a point on it, it also appeared that my time had come to replace my intestinal microflora. It was not dramatic and I immediately took the requisite pills. Ironically, David was about to finally stop taking his pills the next day – just as I would be getting started. David had, actually begun healing nicely. He was hardly taking anything for the pain from his (yellowing) ribs and just the odd Diclofenac for his poor old knee. My hand had healed nicely too.