We departed the beach town of Quy Nhon at 7 a.m. Monday, riding a few minutes by bus to get us to our cycling start. The typhoon that hit the Philippines a few days ago is expected to make landfall in Vietnam on Tuesday. Although the eye of the storm is south of us, the weather looked foreboding. We were feeling pretty lucky that it was just clouds and a bit of wind as we got started.
Our 50 km morning ride took us through a river valley with mountains on either side. These are lush hillsides that very much remind us of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina.
The road we traveled was narrow, although theoretically two lanes with very few potholes. Where the river widened, we saw small fields of rice and sugarcane. More often the river was narrow and the hillsides too steep to allow larger-scale vegetable farming. Livestock were everywhere – mostly cows herded in small groups that often took up the the entire road. Sometimes cows or pigs grazed untended along the roadside, presumably knowing where and to whom they belong. Once we rode across rice straw spread neatly across the entire road to dry.
At one point a sow crossed the road right in front of us with five little piglets following closely behind. For some reason, one of the babies made an about face, and the others followed. So we paused to let the five little piggies back across the road. They were tiny and really cute!
Lunch was a fabulous Pho an chay (vegetarian noodle soup), so beautiful and full of noodles, fresh veggies, and herbs. More on the Pho later, though. Suffice to say our weather luck didn’t hold, and it was good to have that warm, rich soup in our bellies before we tackled 30 km in strong wind and a persistent rain. There was one stretch when the wind off the South China Sea was so strong that we had to lean our bikes over to the left to keep from being blown off the right side of the path. It was a hard couple of hours (at least it wasn’t cold), and we were all pretty happy to load into the bus for our ride into the beach town of Nha Trang.