3 January 2012
Finally, a day on the bike with no rain. And what a difference it makes. Today's terrain is similar to the past couple of days, but paddy fields with their greens glowing do so much more for one's optimism.
Bong Son seemed to be the most honest town I've been to so far. Reasonable prices for accommodation, dinner and this morning's baguette stash. Ok, so I'm probably still paying double local prices, but at least I feel better than when I'm being ripped off to my face.
I make elaborate plans to get off QL1 today, but when I get to Phu My, my escape town, the only turnings I find are unmarked and not too well surfaced. I'm glad I decide to stay on the highway, because as I head south, mountains rise between me and the coast. Save exploring that area for another lifetime.
Surface is good all day, wind is on my side, traffic's a bit of hassle at times, but it all goes smoothly. Baguettes at 40km, turn off the highway shortly after Binh Dinh, where I spot a couple of Cham towers, track through Quy Nhon, burst onto the beach front. Sit down for a coffee at the guesthouse. Done.
Quy Nhon will be my most northerly stop until I arrive in London. Bet London won't be this warm.
After tidying up, I go for a stroll along the beachfront. It's not busy, tourist-wise, but the town's clearly set up for it. A park separates the beachfront road from another that's dotted with hotels - most of them are small, but there's the occasional one striving upmarket. Coracles are pulled up on the sand, tenders to the fishing boats moored in the harbour. The sun's diving towards a mountain, casting all in a warm glow.
I stop at a random street stand for a sugar cane juice and watch as two or three stalks are repeatedly run through a motorised mangle to extract the juice. It's sweet, but not as much as you might expect, and has a woody taste that puts me in mind of a subtle green tea.
89km, 25.0km/h, 3hr34min, 3196km