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Day 82– February 20th:  Hồ Tràm to Mỹ Xuân: 56kms

I walked Sharyn out to the street to wait for her shuttle bus to take her back to Saigon. We had to run the gauntlet of the barking dogs again, never sure whether they’d try to nip us from behind as they circled around us. With a handful of stones for protection, we made it out onto the main road unscathed. It took 20 minutes sitting in the now harsh sun before the bus arrived.

Sharyn had a fairly comfortable ride back to Saigon.

After scaring off the dogs with a couple of well-placed stones, I got back to the room and loaded up my bike, and set off. Sharyn had taken my red rack pack once again, as I wouldn’t need it anymore between here and Saigon. The lighter bike was much easier to move along the flat roads around here. I was glad to be leaving. There’s not much here other than a few seafood restaurants and a lot of nasty, intimidating dogs, which I hate.

There wasn’t much on the side of the road to eat until I found a banh mi lady just outside of the nice little town of Phước Bửu. Once again, I stashed the banh mi in my handlebar bag to eat later. The temperature was climbing rapidly once again, so I took my time riding through Phước Bửu as the main street was lined with large, shady trees and some respite from the biting sun.

Some way out of town, I turned west alongside some huge rubber plantations. Once again, I found myself negotiating a couple of long, large hills with no shade to protect me from the sun. On the top of the second hill, I stopped and bought a couple of cold drinks to have with my banh mi. The young boy who served me was keen to use his English on me and looked pretty damn proud of himself as I left. I guess he wouldn’t get too many opportunities to use it down here.

I came across a rubber plantation.
A closer look at where rubber comes from.

Just before Đá Bạc, I stopped under a tree, ate my lunch, and rested for a while, not bothering to get off my bike. The road from there was arrow-straight until Tân Ninh, where I stopped once more under a giant fig tree with a small pond. Here I got off the bike and sat next to the small pond in the shade. A welcome cool breeze helped me get some energy back to make the final push to Mỹ Xuân.

A wide boulevard led me down to the ultra-busy QL51. I was only a day’s ride out of Saigon now, and the traffic was all the confirmation I needed of its proximity. It was now really noisy and dusty, much more so than any other roads I’ve been on to date.

To reach the An Hoà 2 hotel, situated directly on the highway, I needed to ride on the wrong side of the road for about 100m or so. Being quite used to this now, I arrived unscathed but a bit sweaty at the reception. I had pre-booked the room, so the young girl knew who I was and gave me my key, even though she spoke no English.

The room was large and clean, and I was very happy that I couldn’t hear the road noise at all. The bed was once again character-building, but hey, I only had one more sleep, and I’d be back home in Saigon.

I got cleaned up, bought some beers at the nearest shop, and settled in the hotel’s tropical garden next to a ten-foot-high waterfall. I updated my diary while messaging Sharyn, then headed off down the road to a popular restaurant I’d noticed earlier.

A relaxing place to update my diary and spend my last night on the road.

Out the front, they were slowly carving up an entire, lightly-cooked beef carcass. I ordered a beer, and a man came over and tried to explain that they only had one item on the menu. Although he spoke no English, I understood him. But he wasn’t too sure, so he rounded up a young girl who spoke a bit of English to ensure I got fed.

Standing on a stool, this young lady was really earning her money tonight.

The half-cooked beef strips were dipped in a homemade, spicy sauce, then a yellowy powder, and then eaten with the usual greens. As it is normally a shared meal, I ended up with a very large plate of it. Fortunately, I was pretty hungry by then and managed to finish it all, much to the pleasure of the owners.

First time for everything. I have no idea of the name of the dish, but it was pretty good.

By the time I  got back to the room and contacted Sharyn again, she was already at the Te Te  Taphouse, our usual hangout, enjoying a nice, cold craft beer. Oh well, just one more day.

Time to read the grand finale of our Vietnam Cycle Tour: All Good Things Come To An End.