February 5, 2017
I was awake at 6:15, but went back to sleep for half an hour. At 6:45 we could hear the Dutch ladies complaining about the breakfast and their bill. We chatted to them as they were leaving. They were not happy with the hotel, the breakfast was a cold egg omelet on a small baguette, no fruit and no coffee or tea. Their room was dirty and one of them slept on her towel because the sheets were dirty.
Ralf is not sure who wrote the positive reviews, but ours was not going to be a positive review either.
We had our cold omelet and ordered two coffees. Drip coffees it took 15 minutes for mine to drip through and by then it was cold.
Not a good start, to a long day, with a big climb thrown in for good measure. We found a nice road out of the village and headed towards the A1.
In La Co we spotted this modern church.
We were only on the A1 road briefly a couple of kilometres at most, before we made the turn for the Hai Van Pass.
As soon as we started up the Pass we were stopped by a train. All lot of the crossings are manned crossings, because someone has to open and close the gates.
A tunnel took the trucks and buses through the mountain. Some tour buses did come up the road, but mostly it was scooters and some cars.
After the train crossing and we were onto the climbing, I told Ralf I was going to keep going. Ralf stopped to take photos all the way up, often passing me as I struggled up the 8% -10% grades.
It was a very pretty route, if I could just stop the noise, I would be fine. The noise? that is my heart beating out of my chest and me gasping for air. The climb was tough for me, as most of you know I do not like hills. From sea level to 464 metres in 9.5 kms with an 8% to 10% grade. I did have to walk some sections, but on the whole I was able to ride the majority of it.
At one point I could hear a noise, it wasn’t my heart this time, it was the ventilation shaft for the tunnel that the cars, trucks and buses were using.
I was able to ride to the summit. As I was cresting the summit a guy in a car passed me and then leapt out to take a photograph of me. He was struggling to get his lens cap off, I wasn’t stopping or going back a few metres so that he could get a good photo. He shook my hand and I told him I wasn’t going back down so that he could get a photo. He laughed and congratulated me on being a strong woman.
At the top we were surrounded by hawkers. Ralf had already decided who he was going to buy coffee from and I spotted him surrounded by tourists, taking photos of him. He said he felt as if he had just won a stage in the Tour de France and was surrounded by supporters.
I sat and drank the coffee and watched the bikes while Ralf headed up to the American bunker.
The woman tried to persuade me to buy something from her stall, jewelry, tiger balm, eucalyptus oil. I kept saying no. When it came to paying for the coffees, she told me it was 60,000 VND (about $3.50). I told her I could buy a meal for that amount, so she reduced it to 40,000 VND ($2.35), even that was a rip-off in Vietnam.
The clouds started to roll in, then I noticed a bride and groom, heading up to where Ralf was. Who thought it was a good photo op to put this woman on top of a dirty old bunker, I don’t know.
We headed down the hill, Ralf indicated that I would be on my brakes all the way down and he would stop and take photos. I hurtled down that hill, it felt so good. I had to use my brakes on some of the turns, but on the whole it was an awesome ride down. I stopped and waited for Ralf – he came down a full five minutes after me! We put on more sunscreen, as the sun was out and very strong. Later we decided to put our light windbreakers on to keep our arms covered to stop them burning any more. It really helped.
As we dropped down into the outskirts of Da Nang, we had to stop at another train crossing. I think this must be a really pretty train journey.
As we waited for the crossing guard to open the gates I chatted with two Chinese guys who are staying in Da Nang.
We then made our way through the mega City of Da Nang. It is an up and coming city with huge development. As we made our left turn, Ralf chatted to an English guy who rode up the Pass and back down again for his Sunday ride. He lives in Da Nang with his Vietnamese wife.
Da Nang is a sprawling city. We had chosen to stay away from the A1 and thought we had chosen a quiet coastal road. Not so much, the road out of Da Nang and almost to Hoi Ann is a mass of development of big resort hotels. I guess they realized that the big hotels will bring in more international tourists. It was quite disappointing not to have a quiet road to use.
As we headed out of the City of Da Nang into the suburbs, we decided to stop at a café for something to eat. I thought Banh was bread. I saw Banh Beo on the board and thought it might be the dumplings we had once before. Wrong again, it was a soft rice noodle cake with mung bean paste, topped with chopped peanuts and a little bit of fried onion, you could add hot chilli sauce with garlic and peppers as well. It was surprisingly good, Ralf bought us two pepsi’s from the store next door. Total cost for lunch and drinks $1.53!
Ralf spotted a nice Pagoda to photograph and decided we could take this turn to join our coastal road.
We passed Marble Mountain and all the accompanying stores with huge statues outside. One lady tried to sell me something. I told her it wouldn’t fit in my panniers.
We came into the outskirts of Ho An and Ralf checked his iPad for the turns to the hotel and a young lass on a scooter asked if she could help. I told her we were heading for Hoi An and a hotel we had booked. She told us where to make the turn and where most of the hotels were. I thanked her and she went on her way. That was really nice.
We have a nice homestay tonight. I am not sure what the difference is between a Nha Nghi (guesthouse) and a homestay, apart from this is a very clean establishment with a thicker mattress – still very firm as most Vietnamese beds are.
We had a nice hot shower and I delivered the laundry to reception.
We went across the road for dinner and bought a couple of beer to have in the room. We will do a bit of research to see what we need to see tomorrow, although we have decided to spend three nights here. There is so much to see in this historic City. We are about 2 kms from the downtown area.
Up relatively early tomorrow so that we get a full day in and at some stage I have to give the bikes a good clean and oiling over the next couple of days.