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Day 70 to 77– February 8th to 15th: Mũi Né: Tet Holidays

The next eight days were a blur of nothing more than choosing where to eat lunch and dinner. Sharyn got up early every morning and headed over to the hotel’s buffet breakfast. I never feel like eating till just about lunchtime, so I just slept in.

The Tien Dat Resort had a great collection of vintage motorcycles.

Most nights, we ended up at Joe’s Cafe to listen to some live music and enjoy the craft beers. After a week of this, I was really ready to leave and continue on my bike.

The Bohemian Basterds were playing most nights. We’d have a drink with them after their sets.
Trying someplace different for dinner. Jibe’s Beach Club.
Not really beach people, but we gave it a go for an hour or so.

With Covid spreading up north again and millions of people traveling home during Tet, we’d chosen Mũi Né as a place to stay if everything got locked down and we got stuck. At least there’d be good food, craft beer, and a nice room, some things that a lot of the smaller places we’ve been didn’t quite have. So, with that in mind, Mũi Né certainly served its purpose.

An open-mike night at Joe’s.

Ho Chi Minh City and the rest of the south are still Covid-free, so we’re confident we can move on and finish the trip from here.

We did move around a little bit! At the Pit Stop Food Court.
Ghoulash at The Pit Stop Food Court.
A mural on the wall of The Pit Stop Food Court. Hanoi’s Train Street.
A lone coracle on the break wall at sunset. Mũi Né.
Waves crashing on the beach at Mũi Né.

Day 78– February 16th: Mũi Né to La Gi: 76.5kms

My spirits were high this morning. I was back on the bike, and there were only four more rides to go to complete the trip. We will also catch up with our good mate Tamas in La Gi, the first familiar face we’ve seen since Hanoi. He’ll be on his new motorbike and testing it out, I’m sure.

Getting away, heading to La Gi.

Just south of the Mũi Né resort strip, I cycled past a really nice, clean beach. It was popular too, although, at this time of day, there was no one swimming, way too sunny! Vietnamese girls, in particular, will not risk a suntan. Milky-white skin is the preference here, so no beach bunnies before 5 pm.

Bãi đá Ông Địa beach, just on the southern edge of Mũi Né.

Just after the beach, I began a long, not too steep, climb away from the beach and onto the highway leading into the nearby city of Phan Thiet. The traffic suddenly became heavy as I came into town. I had planned a somewhat convoluted route through the narrow streets that would take me through town and onto a back road leading to the beach once more. Unfortunately, the smaller streets I had elected to follow were just as busy as the main streets as the holiday crowds turned it into a real dog’s breakfast. The fact they still allow cars up these small streets doesn’t really surprise me, and since road rage isn’t really a thing here, getting stuck behind a car in not much more than an alleyway is just part of life here.

With small streets aplenty and traffic jams everywhere, I had to make several unplanned stops to navigate my way across the city. Each time I’d have to recheck my GPS to make sure I was going the right way. It was a slow process, but I eventually came out onto the back road I was looking for to take me to the coast.

Phan Thiet wasn’t finished with me yet, though. I had a long, winding climb up out of the city to reach the coast. It was really hot by now, and the stress of negotiating the maze of streets with their crazy traffic had zapped my energy making the hill climb exhausting for me. Finally, at the top, I found a nice, shady tree to stop under while I rested and regained my strength.

The short, steep run down to the coast emptied me out onto a narrow beach road lined with random resorts, both old and new. There were several abandoned resorts looking particularly sad, the echoes of better times the only thing that remained. Decaying buildings and mounting rubbish present a gloomy picture in contrast to the new resorts with their manicured lawns and sparkling, clean pools. There are no amenities around here either. So, if you don’t have a car or a bike, you’re completely reliant on the resort’s facilities. That’s pretty hardcore enclave tourism – nasty!

The new Novaworld development for the well-heeled, just south of Phan Tiet.

As I turned away from the coast, I came to the first of my planned shortcuts. This one would save me about five kilometers. Turning onto it, I was surprised (and thrilled) to see it had been turned into a wide boulevard to service a new resort being erected about halfway down the newly-built road. Add to that, there was almost no traffic, and I had a howling tailwind; my mood brightened up considerably.

A Vietnamese-style Put’n’Take. Pay some money, catch a fish, and throw it back again!

My luck wasn’t to hold out, though, a creek ran through my next shortcut, and Google Maps was telling me there was no bridge. There was probably a small ferry. I couldn’t be sure. So, after some deliberation on the side of the road, I decided to ride around it, adding about another 5kms to the trip. Easy come, easy go, it seems!

The last 15 km into La Gi was on the worst road of the entire trip. It was in a terrible state of repair, and I found that I was spending the entire time trying to avoid potholes and jarring cracks that made the road surface uneven. It was slow and frustrating progress. To make matters worse, at one point, on a blind bend, the car behind me swerved to miss an oncoming bus and ran me off the road into loose sand. I managed to stay upright, and the car slowed down a bit to see if they’d killed me, but when they saw me shaking my fist and screaming obscenities at them, they quickly departed the scene. There is never any thought to stop. They keep going and hope for the best, regardless of the consequences. Adrenaline pumping, I sped after them, hoping I’d catch them up at the next village, but no luck; they weren’t hanging around.

The Phố Đá Homestay is set beautifully on the side of a river on the edge of La Gi’s CBD. Sharyn had scored us our own A-Frame bungalow close to the large cafe area. The room was small but quaint and clean. It also had a small balcony area where I secured the bike for the night. As big as the place was, to our surprise, they served no food or alcohol. It must be the only place in all of Vietnam that doesn’t serve food!

Arriving at our homestay in La Gi.

Soon after arriving, our friend Tamas showed up. We sat outside in the shade and broke the bad news to him while finishing the last of the oranges I had bought earlier. After a while of catching up, Sharyn and Tamas went walking into town to find some beers and something to eat while I had a shower and a rest.

Tamas and myself on the swing eating oranges.
Our A-Frame bungalow for the night in La Gi.
The homestay/cafe overlooked the river.

About an hour later, they returned with everything we needed. After eating in the garden and having a couple of beers each, we moved over to the cafe balcony overlooking the river for sunset. We decided to have coffee so that we could have a couple of beers before bed on our balcony. Tamas video-called our mutual friends, Sarah and Sky, in Cape Town, South Africa; it was the first time we’d talked to them in nearly two years, and great to hear what they’d been up to.

Almost there. Find out what happened next: Seafood and Stakes.