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Day 28 to 31– December 27 to 31: Dong Hoi

We awoke to brilliant sunshine on our first morning in Dong Hoi. What a difference it made. I was pretty shattered by the time I went to bed the previous night, but I was buoyed to feel the sun on my face once more after what seemed a long time.

If this doesn’t shock you awake in the morning, nothing will!

We ate breakfast on the sidewalk in front of the hotel. They have a great, very arty restaurant on the ground floor filled with lots of knick-knacks and adorned with lots of traditional tiles. Later on, we went for our first walk to explore our immediate area. I was in search of some Magnesium as I had cramped up a few times last night. I guess my legs aren’t quite there yet.

Bands of rolling fog made you appreciate the sunshine even more.

We walked towards the Citadel, Sharyn was keen to see it, but I was spent. Yesterday had taken its toll on me. I sat down for a while and rested. Everything ached, my back, my legs, and my feet especially. While Sharyn ventured to the Citadel, I made my way back along the esplanade, getting some photos and admiring the views.

Ho Chi Minh monument in the square behind the Citadel in Dong Hoi.
The moat surrounding the Citadel.
Pre-Wedding pics in front of the Citadel.

About halfway back, I stumbled across the 73 Brothers Club. At first, I thought it was a bikie bar, but I hesitated out front for a second and could see it was a men’s hairdresser with a bar in one corner. The whole bar was done out in trendy black and white tiles, and there were four old-style barber chairs; it looked amazing. What was even more amazing was the fact they had a fridge full of craft beer! I quickly texted Sharyn to tell her where I was.

73 Brothers Bar and Barbershop – pretty funky!
Hip and I get acquainted at the bar.

Sharyn arrived half an hour later. She was suitably impressed. Not only were the boys cutting hair, but they were also sculling Jaegermeisters and smoking weed! I don’t think I’d get my hair cut in the evening around here! Hip and Son, two of the lads there, spoke pretty good English, so we settled in and made some new friends.

Son (left) and Hip (center) with a friend at the bar in 73 Brothers.
Son was the DJ and barman – a great guy!
My shout! Beers for my friends!

Son was playing 70’s disco music from the internet while we sat and watched the proceedings of a barbershop-cum-bar. He asked me if I wanted to play a song; that was all she wrote. I quickly introduced them to some of my favorite songs, and they were mightily impressed. None of them had even heard of these songs before, so every one of them was like gold! It was 12.30 pm when I got there, so, with DJ duties, we were stumbling home for a late dinner!

Teaching the boys about rock’n’roll.

The next day Sharyn had to fly back to Hanoi for her X-rays and have her stitches removed. I took the bike out for a long ride around town to fill in the time till she got back. After cruising north up the beach and seeing all the development happening there, I turned back around and headed south to the main market in town at the end of the Esplanade. It was still heaving with people, and there was plenty of seafood on display, as you’d expect from a seaside town.

Along the waterfront, the fog just kept blowing through.
Testing out my new bike. I don’t even have to pedal this one!

Sharyn texted me, and we arranged to meet at 73 Brothers at 6.45 pm. The only problem was they closed at 7.00 pm, much to our astonishment! We bought a couple of Hoprizon Stormeyes to take back for dinner.

We found this little fella on the footpath on the way home.

Sharyn’s arm seemed to be healing well but still had a nasty scar about ten or 12 cm long. She would need another x-ray in a few weeks, and we figured we could manage to be in Nha Trang by the time that occurred. We knew they had a good hospital there too.

The 20 metal staples holding Sharyn’s elbow together.

The weather the next morning proved back to its old tricks. Gloomy skies returned along with cold and windy conditions. We spent the morning in the cafe working on administrivia. I was busily figuring out a route through the mountains on the Ho Chi Minh Trail, starting from Hoi An and finishing back on the coast at Qui Nhon. I figured about 8 or 9 riding days over 487 km, but to be honest, if the weather didn’t improve by the time we got to Hoi An, there’d be no mountains. I wasn’t prepared to ride solo over very large, very steep mountain passes in cold and wet conditions. It would be extremely dangerous on a pushbike.

The evening view from our balcony.

Back down at 73 Brothers that evening, a look at the weather forecast led me to decide not to cycle tomorrow as the following day had a much better forecast – no rain! Fortunately, we still had plenty of time to get to Saigon and enough rest days that we might need. I just hoped the 40km/hr winds would be blowing in the right direction!

Now regarded as a regular at 73 Brothers!

It turned out to be a good decision to stay another day. It was 17 degrees, blowing a gale, and raining. A fitting end to a shitty year, I guess.

Read on to see what happened next: Cold, Wet, and Covidless.