Rice paddies

Rice paddies south of Hoi An

We left Hoi An Sunday morning at 7 a.m. and rode an easy 20 km through nearby farmland. Changes in temperature and flora are an easy reminder that we have traveled south. Coconut palms full of fruit dress the landscape, and farms are growing beautiful lettuce, scallions, peanuts, and flowers (spectacular red gladiolus). One of the regional farm products was potted kumquat trees – small and large, each loaded with near-ripe fruit. Vietnamese families place kumquat trees in their houses for the Tet Holiday much like Christmas trees are used to decorate homes in the West .

Vietnam is a country with a long coastline, and fishing is central to Vietnamese culture. This morning we also cycled along the waterfront of the Thu Bon River outside of Hoi An and near where it feeds onto the ocean. Small fishing boats and woven bamboo fishing baskets were beautiful in the water. These are used to bring a wide variety of fresh seafood to market – more choices than we’ve ever seen at a market in the US.

The more experienced cyclists in our group maintain a quick riding pace. Barry and I usually bring up the rear, partly as a strategy to sustain our pace throughout the day, but also so that we can enjoy the landscape around us. Yesterday afternoon’s 40 km ride provided some of the best scenery so far. The recently planted rice paddies were bright green and a lovely contrast to the deep green mountains in the background. As we approached a mountain pass, the mountains were punctuated by dramatic rock outcroppings.

We were fortunate to have overcast skies without rain and a bit of a tail wind as we wound our way up the three major ascents to the pass. And the downhill ride was nothing short of spectacular. Our road was sandwiched between the crashing waves of the South China Sea on our left and the mountains on our right. As our descent concluded, we rounded a bend and our view opened to a panoramic view the sea and an enormous white Buddha sitting on top of a mountain to our right. Our group agreed this was one of the best rides of the trip.