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Day 79– February 17th: La Gi to Hồ Tràm: 53.5kms

We were woken this morning by “boom boom” music at 6 am. Needless to say, we weren’t too happy! After packing up our gear, we went to get some coffee to wake ourselves up properly. There was still nothing to eat for breakfast, but strangely enough, there were lots of people here anyway.

Tamas joined us for coffee but had to cut our time short as a message he received informed him his mother-in-law had had a stroke. He quickly got ready, and we saw him off as he returned to Saigon and his family.

Departing La Gi for Hồ Tràm.

I stopped, found a banh mi lady on my way through town, and put it in my handlebar bag to eat later, somewhere quieter. The narrow QL55 was less busy today, but I was still glad to turn off of it and onto Ven Biển, the coast road to Hồ Tràm. After a couple of kilometers, the road hits the sea and heads down through the coastal dunes. After passing through the town of Bình Châu, there is nothing more than beaches and dunes all the way down to Hồ Tràm.

The busy wet market at Bình Châu.

Just before Hồ Tràm, you pass the massive Grand Hồ Tràm Resort and Casino complex, an oasis of grass and palm trees in this barren, sandy landscape. Directly across the road is The Bluffs, the Grand’s very own golf course, resembling one giant sand trap to test aspiring golfers.

Between Bình Châu and Hồ Tràm, it’s just an empty beach. Great place to wet a line.

Villa Sapphire was about a kilometer off the main road in Hồ Tràm and at the end of a very narrow lane. Much to my displeasure, there were lots of surly-looking dogs running loose in the lane. Fortunately, one of the owners found me at the top of the lane and rode with me down to the hotel, scattering the dogs in front of her motorbike. Sharyn was waiting for me when I arrived and showed me to the room. There was a covered area on the side where I could secure my bike, and the room was pretty nice and faced the small swimming pool.

Being on the coast, there’s no surprise it’s all about seafood here. So for dinner, we wandered down to the beach and picked out our own fresh, live seafood at Lucky Star restaurant.

Fresh seafood at Lucky Star, Hồ Tràm.

Not wanting to risk walking back down the lane in the dark with all the frisky dogs there, we took a taxi which dropped us at the front gate. The taxi was just small enough to make it down the lane and turn around. To our surprise, the front gates were locked. It was only 8 pm, and we were the only ones staying there. As much as we rattled the gate and made as much noise as possible, no one came out to help us. We could see the spare room at the back had someone watching the TV, so I began throwing stones at the side of the room, trying to avoid the windows. It was only after about 20 minutes and several handfuls of stones, each one getting progressively bigger as my anger rose and more and more dogs began barking at us, that the old guy who was the gatekeeper came out to let us in. He didn’t seem too bothered about it either until I really gave him a serve!

Day 80 to 81– February 18th to 19th:  Ho Tram

The only reason we wanted to visit Ho Tram was to hit the casino, something we hadn’t done in quite a while. Not since Las Vegas, in fact. So, after breakfast at a local Com Tam (marinated pork cutlets with broken rice and pickled veggies) place up the road, we got a taxi back to the Grand and spent the afternoon at the casino. With free drinks and food, we stuck around until we had reached our limit, a little extravagance for us as a reward for our efforts.

The entrance into Hồ Tràm Casino. Sorry, no photos are allowed inside!
Hồ Tràm has its own undercover seafood market where they’ll cook the food for you.
Cooking up our dinner, fresh baby octopus and shells.
The seafood market is literally on the beach!
The locals were taking an early evening dip. Standard swimwear here in Vietnam.
Take your pick! It’s all freshly caught.
The seafood is all live and ready to go.
We stuck around for sunset on the beach.
Couples enjoying the sunset together.
Our last night on the coast.

The following day was basically a rest day to ensure I entered Saigon on a Sunday with much less traffic to deal with. I had figured out a route that would take me west across to the QL51, the main highway from Saigon to Vũng Tàu, with a stay overnight in Mỹ Xuân.

Only two more episodes to go. Head over to the second last one: Go West, Young Man.