Wednesday 2 March:
Day 9: 45km
We had a leisurely 10AM start as we were sad to leave the lovely hotel in Hoi An and we didn’t have far to go. Unfortunately it started raining 2km down the road. My waterproof which I bought based on its tiny packable size turned out not to be so waterproof. At least it was 20 degrees so we were mostly warm and wet. We passed the Marble Mountains on the way up the coast and stopped for a visit. Literally mini-mountains surrounded by flat coast. They are made of marble with Buddha and temples carved out of them and into caves.
Onto Da Nang which is not a place we wanted to visit but we needed to stop-short of the 500m high Hai Van Pass. Da Nang is a big city with lots of 5-star hotel resorts lining the beaches and a few budget hotels in the centre. We were in the latter camp this time, eating street food. We still can’t decipher more than a word or two on the menu so picked a few dishes at random from different sections of the menu. This time a success, we ate BBQ’d pork and prawns plus whole boiled squid. Surprisingly tasty! We tried a tea stand afterwards and drank a cocktail of black tea, ice, milk and Haribo-like sweets shaken together. It was a strange combination yet very drinkable!
Day 10: 45km + 500m climb
Furious pouring rain in the night didn’t bode well but the day started bright if hazy. We sped across the new suspension bridge into Da Nang and onto the coastal road. It’s mostly unsympathetic new hotels opposite round, fibreglass fishing boats a bit like Cornish coracles. Fingers crossed the speed of development in Da Nang doesn’t spoil the natural beauty of the beach. Just two stops, one for a level crossing and another to oil our bike chains from a Honda scooter garage. The mountains ahead loomed out of the mist.
We drank a coffee and ate a Banh Mi and then hit the hill. Louise set a strong pace using the miles she has in her legs from our previous efforts. She was keen to beat a foursome of long-distance Vietnamese cyclists to the top of the climb…and did. The decent was beautiful. The sun came out, the road swooped down gently between jungle and sea. We were in Lang Co before 14:00. We’ve a cottage-like room facing the ocean and with a swimming pool behind. Perfectly beer-o’clock!
A quick waist-deep dip in a cold sea perked us up. The waves are very strong so going further is tricky. With the sea breeze it’s cool, perhaps 23 degrees here. We’re wearing a jumper in the shade for the first time.
Our route forward takes us to Huê, Dong Ha, Dong Hoi and then inland to the Phong Nha Ke Ba National Park over five days.