Friday 27 February
Day 8: 65km to Hoi An
Our ride this morning was everything we’d hoped for on at the end of the mountains. It was cool, dry and bright as we descended from highland to coastal flatland. We zoomed along above a rocky river valley carved between impossibly steep jungle-covered slopes. The steady decent helping our tired legs to feel fresh again. As we rode impressive mountain ridges finally led us back to rice paddies, busy towns and fishing nets in the estuary.
At one coffee pit-stop a group of women on scooters waited outside a nursery for their toddlers. They laughed in our direction and asked in Vietnamese,”How you keep your skin so light?”. Our pale skin and long legs are envied by the short, tanned local population. We’ve enjoyed a lot of attention while away from other Westerners. A hug in a market here and a handshake from a monk there. Always positive. The day I cycled without Alex a group of Vietnamese started taking photos of me and singing English love songs. It caused quite a traffic jam. If only my white gangly legs were in fashion at home! So far we’ve avoided the hotel shower gel labelled “whitening” and probably laced with Peroxide.
We arrived at Hoi An after lunch surprised at how sad we were to finish this leg of the trip. We are very lucky to have met our guide Thang and we were very sorry to say goodbye to our friend. We suddenly felt very tired as the adrenaline and excitement that had kept us going for the past week drained away. It was lovely to have a hot shower, clean clothes and a soft bed to recover in.
Highland Vietnamese food is tasty yet based on a small core of ingredients; rice, rice noodles, broth, salad, pork, fish and eggs. At home we have the luxury of a variety of cuisines each week; Thai stir fry, Indian curry, Italian pasta, British roast…so it was nice for a change. We treated ourselves to an Indian restaurant for dinner but don’t worry Thang we will be back on the local cuisine tomorrow!