28 December 2011
Lang Co is just north of the Hai Van Pass, considered by many Vietnamese as the physical divide between north and south Vietnam.
QL1 splits as you leave Lang Co. If you're on two wheels or carrying hazardous substances, like fuel, gas or tour groups, you take the old road over the pass. For everyone else, there's a tunnel. The practical upshot of this for a cyclist is much quieter roads.
The climb isn't anything to speak of. I'm sure I'd heard it quoted as being 17km long; it's more like 12km, and takes you up to a mere 450m. I had it for breakfast. Well, I had a couple of baguettes too. At the top, there's predictably a bunch of shops, cafés and hassle. I could have done with a coffee, but the chances of then being subjected to a lengthy sales pitch were too high... down we go.
The pass is also known for being a divide in the weather, with the skies often being noticeably clearer on the south side. Not for me - dry on the ascent, rain on the way down. That said, it did dry up as I got down to sea level again, and it was a few degrees warmer.
Danang's a pretty big city, the fifth largest in the country. Rather than drag through it, I busted a couple of intelligent turns here and there, and tracked along two beachfront roads, only doing a couple of kilometres in town. There's a lot of construction in progress, and plenty of land set aside for more, the main developments being resorts, villas and golf courses.
The China Beach road carries on south and takes you right out to Hoi An. Piece of cake. Surface was good all day, and the sun even made an appearance.
Despite some degree of planning, it took me a while to find a hotel, succeeding at the third try to get something within budget. Great freebie coconut cakes on arrival. I must get them to bag me up a dozen for the ride south.
On Joe's suggestion, I showed up for the pub quiz at the Three Dragons. I teamed up with him and Neil, and we proceeded to win, bagging a share each of the entry fees and turning a profit for the night.
72km, 21.4km/h, 3hr23min, 2897km