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Day 26 – December 26th: Ha Tinh to Ky Anh: 62kms
We arose at 6.30 am for breakfast. Some of the staff came down to see me off at 8.15 am; they were great and very professional. The manageress presented me with a framed photo of myself posing with them on my birthday up in the Skybar; it was a sweet touch.
I was both genuinely surprised and delighted to see some patches of blue sky overhead; it felt like weeks since we’d seen the sun. It certainly lifted my spirits which the bad weather of late had tested.
Pushing along, it wasn’t long before I had stripped down to just my t-shirt; my phone said it was now 20degC. Other than the fact I had to ride on the main highway, things were looking up. The traffic wasn’t too bad today, but the scenery is pretty much the same and getting a bit boring. The highway is lined by busy towns with concrete barriers dividing the traffic. Signage of all shapes and sizes adorn almost every available space on the street fronts. Hardly any of the food signs that are out applied to a shop that is open and operating. Behind the shop buildings, empty, flooded fields stretch out, reflecting a dull, grey sky.
Along the sides of the road, there is garbage strewn everywhere. Plastic is the main offender, but there was another surprising culprit appearing regularly – discarded face masks. I’d like to paint a rosy picture and wax lyrical about places along the way, but the fact Vietnam has a trash pollution problem is there for everyone to see. I had to cycle around large piles of rubbish on the roadside several times. I know they have eventually cleared away but dumped rubbish appears along almost every inch of the highway.
Meanwhile, back in Ha Tinh, one of the staff from the Vinpearl took Sharyn to the bus. Even better, the girl on the bus taking the money could speak English and helped her with her seat and backpack.
Back on the road, I was making good time. A healthy tailwind helped push me along at 15km/hr. I decided that I’d get to the hotel too early, so I stopped in Ky Anh town for a coffee. I was now off the highway and onto a side road with way less traffic.
I’ve found that riding by myself, I seem to push a bit harder and stop less often as there’s no one to talk to. This also means that I probably don’t drink as much water as I should to hydrate myself. While a lot of things go through your head when you’re cycling, I find that I miss the input of someone else during the ride. It’s just what I’m used to, I guess, but having Sharyn bring up something I missed or just haven’t thought of yet was always of value to me. Being able to share my own thoughts as I go is also a great outlet and helps me to remember more about the places and experiences along the way.
I arrived at the Muong Thanh Grand Hotel just out of Ky Anh about two minutes before Sharyn. She had managed to stop the bus out on the highway and was making her way down the long driveway juggling her bags on one arm. The hotel was out by itself on a large block of land. It clearly hadn’t been well-kept for some time. Apparently, it was built to house construction workers and experts for the new port just down the road.
Sharyn was told by her friend on the bus that the port area had lots of great seafood restaurants, so not long after she arrived, she was off looking for a bus to take her down there. Unfortunately, the bus didn’t go all the way to the port and left her with a 2km walk. Halfway there, a guy in a car pulled over and asked where she was going. He offered to drive her down there, so Sharyn, backing her judgment, got in and took her down there.
Much to her surprise, nothing was open. The guy, an engineer who worked at the new port, then drove her all the way back and dropped her at the front door of the hotel. I’m sure that wouldn’t happen in a lot of countries we’ve visited!
Later on, we had a couple of beers in the bar while Sharyn booked a flight back to Hanoi from Dong Hoi, our next stop. She’ll fly up and back on the same day and get her arm x-rayed to check on its progress. Hopefully, she hasn’t knocked it around too much.
Find out what happened next. Nearly halfway on the Vietnam Cycle Tour: Did I Mention I Hate Tunnels?