My Motorbike Is Not For Sale…YET (Part 5 – Nha Trang, Tuy Hoa & Binh Dinh)
We got into Nha Trang in the evening and were pretty spent from the day of driving. We didn’t book a room beforehand and wandered into a hostel. Immediately it was a good sign as we saw the signature on the wall from one of our AVSE classmates (Georgia from Aussieland) who had stayed here before. We lucked out with a private dorm for $5 per person. Chris needed a swim in the ocean after the long day, while Trang and I attended to our wounds from the crash (details in Part 4).
We grabbed dinner later that night before walking to the beach where we randomly stumbled upon a freestyle hip-hop dance battle. I thought about busting out the old college dance moves and giving it a go, but we were all pretty spent after our day and called it a night. In the morning, we grabbed breakfast and ordered the Nha Trang local specialty (Bánh Căn). It was delicious and I recommend it to anyone visiting. It’s a tiny rice puree pancake with pork cracklings, a quail egg and spring onions.
I took my bike to the mechanic next to have it looked at. He said it was fine and that he couldn’t do anything to fix it. The construction worker mechanics who fixed me up after the crash were pretty good with their crowbar and sledge hammer. I was happy to hear that and the gang was ready to hit the road as we had to get Chris to his school in three days. We learned driving out of town the more chill and relaxing version of Nha Trang is on the North side of town. The South was very gimmicky for the Russian tourist scene. The North has beaufitul beaches and a more laid back setting.
The drive was stunning along the coast, but we got out of town around 11am and the sun was hot from the get go. We stopped for a couple of photo opportunities to cool down and take a break. In the late afternoon when we came a top a cliff overlooking a fishing village. Chris and I were toasted from the sun and couldn’t resist an opportunity to go for a swim. Beer was the only refrigerated cold drink available so we grabbed a cold Saigon Special for $0.50 and ran for the water. That could go down as the most refreshing beer and swim of my life after 4 hours of driving on hot blacktop in “90/90” (degrees Fahrenheit/% humidity).
We were back on the bikes and headed to Tuy Hoa. A city’s name in which I will never be able to pronounce the way they do in Vietnamese no matter how much I practice. We had to Google a place to stay and lucked out again with our own dorm room and no other guests to share it with. Bob, the owner of The Reef Hostel is an American-Vietnam war vet who came back to live here. He made us the best bacon you will find in all of Vietnam. He explained to us that the Tuy Hoa Province wasn’t really into the tourism approach for economic growth. It certainly felt like that during our time there. We had dinner at a restaurant the night we arrived and a group of drunks told Trang in Vietnamese that Chris and I were not friendly or welcoming. But the restaurant owner and her mom loved us so maybe we just met the unfriendly drunks.
We were told about a specific view we should stop and see on our way out of town so we got up early the next morning to check it out. The views on top of this hill were well worth the stop. I also learned that they have cacti in Vietnam during the small hike to the viewing point.
We took backroads along the coast for most of the day. We stopped for lunch in a small fishing village and had a bowl of clams that were so delicious we were racing each other to see who could eat more before they were gone. The bowl was filling for the three of us and it only cost 30,000 Dong or $1.32 USD. We ordered two more dishes that took us quite some time to finish, which was a good thing because it forced us to look around and notice how beautiful the setting was as we were sitting on a float in the river.
After lunch, the “90/90” was in full effect and the heat radiating off the blacktop made it feel like we were driving 50kmh inside an oven. We stopped for a Coca-Cola along an ocean inlet and I asked the owners of the restaurant if it was okay to go for a swim. Part of the customary, “make the customer happy” attitude in Vietnam got the approval nod. Chris joined me and we took a swim off the floating restaurant as some other local tourists got a good laugh at the Westerners swimming in water next to where they were eating (video available on my Facebook page).
It was getting to be late in the afternoon and the sun was setting. We were on one of our backroads and drove into a rice paddy surrounded by mountains. The lighting of the sun and the green of the mountains took my breath away. We stopped for a quick photo shoot, but got back on the road because we didn’t want to drive in the dark and Google maps did not show a hotel anywhere close. We asked a local villager who told us to follow the rode for 5km and there would be one in the next town.
Unfortunately, we came across some sand in the road. My front tire was getting yanked down again and Trang was preparing for another crash. I learned from my first experience, hit the gas and wobbly drove my way out of it without getting buried in the road bunker (#golfreference). We asked a local villager if there was a hotel close by who told us to follow the rode for 5km and there would be one in the next town. We made it to the hotel in Binh Dinh just as it was getting dark.