8 January 2012
Today turns out to be much longer than I'd expected. It's unfortunately all my fault.
Roll-out from Lien Hoang was pretty straightforward, though noone was selling baguettes. I figured I'd find them on the road, and made do with a large bottle of water. Even that took a bit of tracking down.
The wind is still strong. I pass a wind farm. I guess it gets windy a lot here then.
I bat out the kilometres, knowing I have to clock 45 or so before I can leave QL1. Other than a short section tomorrow, and possibly a chunk near Saigon, I should be done with the highway. While it's not always been enjoyable riding, it's been far from the nightmare most commentators predicted. Yes, I'm sure running down the Ho Chi Minh highway 14 is quieter, and more of a challenge terrain-wise, but if avoiding damp weather in the winter is your goal, the coast's a palatable option if you can handle some traffic.
The houses in the towns around Cau Lau catch my interest. There's a lot of small, simple single storey houses following a similar design regime. They have pillars on the front, the front door is set back with a small entry patio, and is usually in the centre. Roofs are flat, or occasionally gently sloped from front and back to a single apex. Doors and windows are two-piece shutters. Decoration is deco/modern. Intersecting rectangles, triple lines, intersecting circles, all very angular, constructed, Masonic.
Some of the buildings have a date on the front. Dates run from the late 50s until the early 80s. I wonder why I've not seen this style before - it's quite practical and Communist, but I'm well within the Nationalist south. Managed repopulation from the north?
After 47km, I pop a left onto a smaller road which will take me over a dune system to Mui Ne. The dunes involve a bit of up and down, but we're hardly talking mountains. When I hit the sea, it's noisy.
Several kilometres north of Mui Ne, the dunes have become a tourist sight. The kids that hang out there have earned themselves a bad reputation in the travel literature for being a bunch of thieves. One of them throws something at me. It bounces off my shoulder. Well done, Vietnam, I knew you could come up with the goods. I was sure someone, somewhere on this trip would throw something at me, and I'm glad that box is ticked.
I'm not so glad when another bunch of kids kick a football at me later. But the situation is different, and ultimately of my own making. There's one street, Nguyen Dinh Chieu, that's the tourist epicentre of Mui Ne. I cycle every road in Mui Ne - well, most of them - before careful perusal of the number 1 bus route signs encourages me to ignore the 'town limits' strike-through sign on the western side of town. There's a lull, then touristland kicks in. Resort, restaurant, resort, guesthouse, resort, pectopah, shop, hotel, restaurant - there's miles of it. And it's not in Mui Ne at all.
I track down the guesthouse I'd noted. Full. Grrr, I bet it wasn't full when I started my unintentional Mui Ne mapping Odyssey. Okay, gimme a Coke.
A couple of places that want US$20, and another full place later, and I find a US$15 place. I've not spent more than fifteen anywhere in the country, but I do begin to wonder how much I value 5 bucks when I'm this tired. For comparison, US$5 will buy a pizza, or more beer than I can drink after a day on the bike.
115km, 21.5km/h, 5hr22min, 3698km