Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A TOUR OF SOUTH VIETNAM - Day 2 (Riding Into The Wind)

28th February 2011 - DAT DO TO KE GA

To an average Vietnamese, The THUY DONG RESORT where we spent the night is quite upmarket. At VND 700,000 per room (RM105), it was reasonably priced for us. It was a pity though our itinerary would not allow us to spend more time here.

A tennis court and a swimming pool complement the hotel. It would have been nice to soothe the tired muscles in the pool. The beach lies across the road. Apart from Hj Khailani who took several shots of the beach, nobody else I believed explored it. Anyway, there would be plenty of beaches we would be seeing for the next several days. Just hope it would not be an overdose.

Our rooms were on the ground floor, located a distance from the main Hotel building. There were very ample room to park our bikes along the corridors. By 6 am, breakfast was ready and everyone was ready to roll out after breakfast.

Today, the familiar red and white Gedebe jerseys gave way to personal preference. I usually only carry 2 pairs of cycling attire - simple strategy of "wear one pair, wash one pair". So a final pose and after the doa recital by Jawa Muar (Pak Kamad), we rolled out to today's destination Ke Ga. My POLAR indicated 6:58 as our start time. It would be a 107kms ride and today's ride could be correctly titled RIDING INTO THE WINDS.

The cool breeze on our faces in the early morning was an indication of the wind that we would be facing. The sandbags placed on the roofs of the houses could only mean one thing - roofs get blown away in the winds!

Sand bags placed on roofs 
In my tours, this would be the first time that the wind need to be factored into the equation. I have heard about strong winds in travel blogs before. When you experienced it yourself, you understand.

Notwithstanding the strong wind, the ride progressed well. It would also be the first time that most of us were introduced to the unique boat of the fishermen of Vietnam. Called Thung Chai, these are round basket boats made of weaved bamboo. For floatation, the baskets are coated with bitumen making the basket water-proof. It tells a lot about the industriousness of the Viets. They used easily available bamboo and make them into boats.

One can call this round basket boat an oversized basin. It boobs up and down in the waves and does not sink. Just wondering why no entrepreneur saw it fit to introduce it to our fishermen.

As we continued on, it was obvious that resort development is on the upswing along the vast stretches of the coast. We saw several advertising boards displaying proposed projects and we noted several projects, some appeared in progress and quite a number seemed abandoned. There would always be over-enthusiastic businessmen anywhere in the world.

So here we had our ever smiling Pak Wan posing in front of one of the resorts, the Ho Tram Beach resort. Who knows, Pak Wan may have quietly jotted down this address for his next wedding anniversary do. After all, he is a Vietnamese veteran!

Time for another rehydration break, we stopped at a roadside Cafe stall. Under the shady trees and with the winds blowing, and hammocks in the hut I could easily doze off and overstay here. If coffee was on the menu, rest assured our Kamad would still ask for the "impatient coffee"!

Several school children cycled past. Pillion riding are common with the pillion delivering additional pedal power. It would be like an extra engine.

As the sun heated up the road, and the headwinds constantly slowing down our speed, we had another rehydration stop. By this time, Ms Siti Linh bought us bananas for instant energy.

If ever anyone wished for the most accurate milestone, one could never find another one so accurate as the one we discovered on this stretch of the road. Lagi 19 km tiba lah ke destinasi! That was what the milestone was telling us.

So, you kayuh a bit more, lagi 12 km. So when it was LAGI 1 km, it was time for lunch

LAGI is actually the name of a town, spelled as LAGI but pronounced as LA ZI and that was our destination for lunch. Referring back to my POLAR altitude printout, we had a 11 km gradual climb at 52km to the 63km mark and then rewarded with a downhill of 3 kms into La Zi. 

The greatest reward of the climb was this fantastic sea-food (what else) lunch in this restaurant

As usual, Vietnamese Tea was free flowing and the seafood was great. It did not take long (as usual) to wipe the plates clean. 

We moved on after a good rest, often stopping as usual either for short breaks or when subjects caught our sight for photography.

Dragon fruit, which I believed originates from Vietnam were in abundance. We noted several farms along the road to our destination.

Another local industry that caught everyone's attention was the salt harvested from the sea. Salt water got pumped in into man-made catchment fields and left to dry. Once dried, it was a matter of collecting the salt crystals. I noted the wheel-barrows were of stainless steel to withstand the corrosiveness of salt water.

We continued our cycling into the winds and arrived at  the day's destination, at another resort by the sea, the Bau Mai resort. 

Hj Khailani posing at the entrance

Hamdan and Hj Khailani within the resort complex
Dinner was again sea-food, this time, by the sea. 

If you are a member of PGM (Persatuan Gout Malaysia), you better watch what you eat. For us cyclists who burned all the toxins away, these plates of prawns and squids are the rewards we earned. 

Thus, another successful ride day. We covered a distance of 107 kms. My POLAR recorded a total ride time of  6 hrs 37 mins. Except for the climbs into LAGI, the terrain was generally flat. The challenge was the wind

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