Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Our life in pictures - Week 3 in Vietnam

Markos, dunes and the wind.
Dragon Fruit - the center just pops out as you peel back the outer layer.
Nước mía and Sarsi pop, our daily afternoon cool down.
Fantastic views earned by innumerable coastal climbs.
Markos and Sampson hit the surf in yet another sea - the South China.
Assembling spring rolls using our "India" sitting-on-the-floor skills in our hotel room.
Coastal calm and clouds.
Com dia, broth soup with greens.  Our most common lunch on the road.  88cents.
Fish at the open-air market.
Saturday night at the town square, the McFerrins catch a ride.
What one thing would you bring on this trip - no limit.
Markos: Vera, our cat
Sampson: a friend
Tarn: a satchel of books

What day have you been in the most pain on this trip?
Rick: The last day I rode in Finland before I took two weeks off the bike - my foot looked like Froder's.
Markos: In Sweden when it rained all day and it was freezing cold - I couldn't feel my hands or feet.
Sampson: When I burnt my lips in India.

Questions of the day help us check-in in the morning and set us up for a day of success.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Vietnam - It's easy to be here.

Loc Ninh, our first town in Vietnam.  Orderly and patriotic.  We found a clean guest house, awesome street food and a local open air market easily.  It set us up for a super outlook on this new-to-us country. 
Lush foliage and mountains!  A complete change from Cambodia.  We continue to seek out the smaller roads to avoid traffic and we consistently find quiet paved roads.  Our path has taken us through winding river valleys and varied terrain.  Though we are covering less ground because climbing slows our pace considerably, we are loving the countryside.
Tasty changes to the rice/rice noodle diet.  We frequently get served hard boiled eggs (this one is a tiny quail egg) and lots of lettuce and other leafy greens.  Additionally, our solid morning snack now is a Vietnamese sub, "Ban Mi".  We find the small sandwich carts along the road in the morning and buy 8, two for each boy and one for mom and one for dad.  At 10,000 dong apiece (US 44cents) they are a great way to take the hunger off a growing boy for our first hour's bike snack of the day.
Strange, vacant, monumental christian churches are a common sight.  The plazas large, concrete, and appearing unused.  We are trying to piece together the various changes we observe traveling now, in our first communist country.  Camping our style, where we ask to camp at a school, church or health care centre, has been unsuccessful.  Fortunately guest houses are economic, we just have to search out the ones suited for a family, not the ever-present rent-by-the-hour variety.

Markos and Sampson model their cycle tans.  This silly local's beach had several old-style painted car bodies lined along the beach.  Vietnamese girls were taking posed pictures by them.

Completeness, order.  A country that seems to have it together.

Formal, rectangular cement "shoe box" homes.   Simple, Art Deco-type geometric designs on the front facades. The short end facing the street is lined with tall folding or multiple doors across the entire front.  The roof line starts high in the front and descends towards the back of the home.
Mountains, gently winding roads following rivers, climbing and descending, visual interest at every turn.  Towering sand dunes, gigantic boulder-covered hillsides, crashing surf, fine sand beaches.

Pavement – smooth wide shoulders with high speed traffic, quiet routes are paved too, though occasionally bumpy, worn or broken for half our day's ride.

Lush green forests; towering, mature, rubber tree plantations; lime green rice paddies; cashew tree orchards with piles of discarded fruit rotting in piles beneath the huge trees; and now at the coast, fields of odd Christmas cactus-type dragon fruit plants, light bulbs strung low along the rows (why?)

Long beaches, littered with Styrofoam and plastic waste.  Garbage churning in the first 25 metres of the waves and foam.  Circular blue plastic “bathtub” fishing boats cover the beaches like a boat parking lot.  Further north, clean, private "tourist" beaches.

New, easy to access, tasty discoveries.  Street food everywhere, rice/noodles, greens galore.  Spicy sauces and sweet crunchiness of lettuces and cucumbers.  "Tra da" iced tea, with one cup on top of the insulated cooler jug.  I guess sharing germs isn't a concern?  If we are served tra da at the table (small, plastic with smaller plastic stools around it) we get one cup and a jug of tra da.  We've learned how to share too.  So far, so good....

"Pajama Day" seniors.  Older men, walking along the road or biking along the highway, wearing pajamas.  Any time of the day, any day of the week.  

A culture of hanging out and relaxation.  Cold drink stands lined with shaded hammocks around small tables.  Vietnamese people sleeping, talking, doing business while lying in a hammock.  And if not in a hammock, playing loud games of cards or tile games.  Money changing hands, hollering and laughter.

Morning roadside tables loaded with butchered meat, the tail of a dog descending from one, the head of a goat accompanying another – indicating the original source of the wares.

Electronic recordings tweeting from large cement "swallow buildings" - a nest made of swallow saliva sells for US $250.00  It seems that every one and their brother is in on this enterprise.
Still so much to discover….