Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A TOUR OF SOUTH VIETNAM - Day 5 (The Light & Easy Ride)

3 March 2011 - CAM RANH TO NHA TRANG

The hotel where we stayed had a large compound, with shady trees. Internet was also available and so was cable TV. It was good value for money. This time, the bicycles slept in the kitchen, away from their owners who slept peacefully, after the fulfilling dinner at the Windmills Restaurant. 

This would be the final day of riding, the shortest too. There was an air of unhurried tempo of the tuarers as we woke up to welcome the day. Whatever left of the rations was laid on the table for breakfast. That included the mushroom soup,  the Nescafe 3-in-one and I believe also the serunding. We still woke up early though, the discipline of touring strongly etched in both body and mind.

The lady hotel owner was also up early. Amongst the crowd of tuarers, she was busy handing out her business card, welcoming us back to her hospitality. 

Several photo sessions before we grouped for our usual group photo were in order. I had a picture taken with Ms Siti Linh, so did everyone else. 

Ms Siti Linh with her "uncle"
Then it was Ms Siti Linh's turn to do her "1, 2 and 3" for our  group photo. Today, the GEDEBES decided to display their Red and White jerseys, except for one of them. Terlupa kut. 

There would be no mountain to climb, though the route was not entirely flat. We could expect  gentle climbs but the promised great scenery along the coastal road should more than offset the increased heart rate and sweat. There would be no headwinds either to slow us down. What would slow us down would be the photo shoots along the road.

This was the light and easy ride. Light and easy are my own hallmark of a cycling tour. The route has been paced well by Wan Sabri. The final day is indeed a reward.  

The town Cam Ranh was already busy when we hit the road. Stalls for breakfast were found along the roads, with small stools and small tables filled up by adults enjoying the varieties of their Vietnamese breakfasts. This reminded me of the warongs dotting the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia. 

There were also the usual friendly waves by the crowd. We gladly returned their compliments, as usual. A child on a bike was also curious as we passed by and could not resist to steal a glance at these adults in funny attires. Thanks Dzul for this pic.

And when there was an opportunity to stop and buy the local fruits, notably the mangoes, we all stopped. We were in no hurry.

Once out of the town limit, we branched off into a village route that would take us towards what I termed as the "great ocean road". When we stopped at a small village shop for a drink. I could not resist  taking this cute little baby boy away from her mother's arms. The baby was not afraid. Boy, was he heavy! 

In my earlier blog, I claimed that I had not seen any FAT Vietnamese. I stood by my statement. The baby in my arm had not shed his baby fat yet. I am sure he will grow to be another slim and hardworking Vietnamese lad. We all agreed too that the Vietnamese children were not afraid. Either alone or in groups, the kids always waved at this 8 funny looking characters.

Baby and "granduncle"
We crossed a bridge and stopped for a photoshoot. We took our time. Special mention must be made of Kamad, the second "youngest". Kamad decided from day 1 that he wanted to experience the full touring experience. While others left the bags in the upport van, Kamad's Ortlieb panniers were on the bike with him. So, he was fully laden all the way, at times huffing and puffing at the rear of the group. With the strong headwinds, the panniers further exaggerated the drag. But at other times, he would also be somewhere up front. Syabas Pak Kamad. Lake Toba in April will be peanuts to you!

Kamad, a full tourer with panniers
Crossing the bridge, we came to a beautifully landscaped dual-carriageway, resembling closely the roads at Putrajaya. This was the best constructed road for the entire 5-day rides.

This road leads to the "ocean road" with some gentle climbs and a panoramic view of the ocean below. This was where we spent most of our time enjoying the scenery, and capturing the memories. The final destination was a mere 30 odd kms away. There was no reason to hurry. 

Hj Khailani stopping for a photoshoot

The view that greeted us as we coasted down towards Nha Trang

Another panoramic view from the ocean road

One for the road. 
We stopped so long that even our driver had time to scrutinize my Surly. I was wondering what actually fascinated him. Probably he could not do the mathematics for the pricing of the bikes. 

Just at the outskirts of the town, there was a resort by the beach. And again we stopped for some photoshoots. That's me with Mede (Hamdan), identifying ourselves with the Nha Trang signage in the backdrop. This day, even the fast and furious Mede decided to take it easy. 

We rode on for several kilometres more into the heart of town. The traffic got busier as we cycled along a beautiful beach front to our hotel.

Our hotel at Nha Trang.
We officially ended our ride just about noon. There were smiles all round and we shook hands, congratulating one another and thank Allah the Almighty for the safe journey. Deep inside, we knew there will be other journeys that we would do, in smaller groups or even solo.

The 5-day ride was officially over. The trip to South Vietnam was not. We would shower, then a short nap before we exlore Nha Trang.

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