1st March 2011 - KE GA TO PHAN RI CUA
Prior to going out for dinner last night, we had a small tiff with the security guards @ Bau Mai Resort. To them, what's the big deal of leaving our touring bikes under the stars. A bike is just that, a bike. A bike is cheap in Vietnam. Little would they know that just the saddle of our bikes could buy 2 or 3 Vietnamese bicycles. They could have fainted if they knew that one of us go to bed with the bike!
So, they got the message that the bikes needed covered storage and they relented, and we went for dinner happily.
I woke up on Day 3 fully rested. Stepping out of the room, I could see the beach, literally a stone's throw away. As I penned today's ride in the comfort of home, I am reminded of the Tsunami that had devastated parts of Japan, a week after our return from the tour.
While we grief for the sufferings of the Japanese people, we are grateful our country is spared such calamities.
My memory also raced back to the coastline of Vietnam, where 8 "Tuarers" were hugging the beach front at several stretches of the trip. What If ??
Back to Bau Mai Resort on this Day 3, our departure was slightly delayed. Breakfasts ordered were delivered late. Apart from coffee, my breakfast never arrived. Hamdan had time to do some stretching exercise while Wasabi, Dzul and Siti Linh discussed today's ride.
As usual, another group photo before we went off. Today, Dzul recited the doa. Siti Linh as usual became our photographer. I took a shot of her taking our group photo. To ready us for the shot, she would always say "1, 2 and 3", emphasising "and" then took the shot. We would chorused after her, "1, 2 and 3".
This day's ride would bring us into the city of Phan Tiet. We would also cycled through the long stretch of holiday resorts of Mui Ne Beach before ending the ride at Phan Ri Cua.
At one stage, I was cycling with a group of schoolboys. One was on an electric bike. Boy, did I wish for one at this moment. On the e-bike, it would be just a twist of the wrist to propel me forward, with or without the head wind!
On long rides, I do consume Coke for energy recovery. This lady though believed in the rival brand. I just wondered whether she too needed to energize or was it pure love of the drink.
Khailani and I took a short detour into the beach front when we saw our group up ahead stopping for rest. We photographed a group of people sieving out their catch, undisturbed by our presence.
A few men were packing sand dug from the beach. Those heavy bags of sand were transported on the cubchais. These must be the most overworked cubchais around. I just wondered whether what these men were doing were legal.
It's also good to know there are bike repair shops along the route. Do not expect to do any major parts replacement though.
For our rest break, we stopped across the road of this beautiful Golden Coast resort. The sunflowers and Ixoras were in full bloom. There were, as I said earlier, numerous resorts of different grades dotting the long coastal beach of South Vietnam.
|Golden Coast Resort, one of the many found along this route|
Continuing our ride, we entered a comparatively big and busy city of Phan Tiet. As usual, there was a dire lack of road-signages to guide us out of Phan Tiet. Phan Tiet reminded me of Had Yai, busy and with lots of vehicles - lorries, cars and countless numbers of motorcycles.
We momentarily lost sight of our support van. But Hamdan's google map on his BB guided us out of Phan Tiet. If time was on our side, we could have overnighted in Phan Tiet and explore the city.
|Riding into Phan Tiet|
But we were not even half-way from our destination and it was certainly too early to stop. It was even too early for lunch, especially after the fruit extravaganza at our earlier stop. A few of us though, managed to capture some scenes on a bridge in Phan Tiet.
|Fishing boats moored in the river at Phan Tiet|
|The market, besides the river.|
We were rolling down to Mui Ne beach. Below is an extract about Mui Ne from Wikipedia
Mui Ne (Mũi Né) is a coastal resort town in the Binh Thuan Province of southeastern Vietnam. The town is close to the city ofPhan Thiết. Tourism has transformed Mui Ne into a resort destination since 1995, when many visited to view the total solar eclipse of October 24, 1995.Mui Ne has many resorts on the beach, as well as restaurants, bars and cafes.
Mui Ne Beach is a popular tropical beach. Strong sea breezes make it very popular for kitesurfing and windsurfing. The tourist season is from December to May.
As we rolled down to the flats of Mui Ne, we were greeted by a small esplanade, certainly a good place to stop and soak in the tranquility of the moment. But some of us were already quite far ahead and we need to keep pace.
However, we did manage to stop for a quick shot of our man in black (Pak Wan), who blended in well with this black classic of a car. This was in front of the many resorts along this stretch.
The five-foot ways along this stretch were tiled. Coconut trees lined the streets, offering both shades and drinks for the many holiday-goers, mainly Russians. One could obviously understand the relationship of the Russians with the Vietnamese, dated back since the Vietnam war.
Two other highlights need to be mentioned of the Mui Ne area. The group just had to stop to capture the scenery before us. This was one highlight.
The number of fishing boats in the sea were just too many to count. Fishing must certainly be one of the main source of income for the populace. Fishing must have been done at night as all the boats we captured were in mooring.
The second highlight is the sand-dunes. Just after lunch, kids greeted us offering us to sand-surf. Mui Ne is also famous for their sand-dunes. These dunes are not necessarily by the beach. These dunes are also found across the road, away from the beach front.
|Sand-surfing activity offered to us.|
As they say, one restaurant's loss is another restaurant's gain. We were the only customers and service were fast and food were marvelous.
We had a good rest here and took the opportunity to jamak our prayers, before moving on.
Moving on became very slow. The winds were roaring against us. The coconut trees bent forward, as if bowing to us, welcoming us to the land of the winds. So I penned a short poem below:
The wind, ah...the wind that blows
Strength after strength it grows
We cycled, we peleton, all in a row
We started fast, then we became slow
And we stop often, to rest our tired soul
Ah....the wind that blows
To compound the challenge, at the 69km mark on my POLAR (50 mile mark on Zu's Garmin), as the heat bore on us, the road climbed and climbed, corner after corner. Factor the wind and we are talking about a triple blow - heat, wind and terrain.
Shuhaimi aptly commented in his fluent French "lembu pun terberak nok ghukah (climb) bukit ni", noting the cowdungs along this climbing stretch. Such observance!
|The climb started at the 50 mile mark|
Anyway, cycling is also about free-wheeling. Once at the top, we were rewarded with a great downhill to a small town Luong San where a drink stop was the reward of the hard climb. Along this downhill stretch, we noted tapioca as a cottage industry.
We were still a good 20kms to our night stop and we arrived just as the sun was setting. It was the most welcoming sight when we saw the support van at this small hotel, called An Vien. Tonight, in this small hotel, there would be no seperate beds. But I have no worries. Haji Khailani slept soundly everytime!
We clocked 119 kms on Day 3 and ready ourselves for the longest day on Day 4.