Day 13: 100 kmOur longest day! We made a prompt start and were hoovering our way through the hotel buffet at 6.30 AM. I don’t have much appetite this early, especially not for spicy noodle soup, but we needed plenty of fuel. Our route took us 15km west, away from the coast and busy Highway 1. It added a few miles but the Ho Chi Minh Highway is a much quieter route. The road was rolling; short hills and descents to keep us interested. We passed junior schools holding assembly outside in the playground. How often does that happen at home? The children were in neat rows on tiny plastic stools which they carry to school every day on their bicycles. Beside the road jungle, mixed with rubber tree plantations, wet rice paddies and dry fields of vegetables.
Our route crossed the De-Militarised Zone (DMZ) – a euphemism for the 40km wide front between American and Viet Cong forces during the war. Here the houses are set-back from the road a little so it was quieter. The people we passed seemed more reserved and we were greeted with more questioning looks than usual. Perhaps we were assumed to be American, or perhaps we were imagining it? We were glad to decent a little towards the coast to finish our long day.
We happened upon a great cafe called ‘Treehugger’ right on the shore. A green mango and passion fruit smoothy later and we were very much revived. In fact, the cafe was so good that we returned later to watch the sunset and the rainbow light show projected onto the harbour bridge, with a glass of iced rice wine. What a difference it made to the utilitarian concrete bridge.
On the way back we found a trio of women running a busy outdoor restaurant with tiny tables and chairs. A good indicator of tasty food. With a bit of sign language we ordered grilled clams and a whole skate BBQed in foil. Delicious! A bargain at £7.