18th April: Pho Chau to Tan Ky – 92km (total 2668km)

The route: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/169308139

The photo:

Old school coffee

Today saw us joining the Ho Chi Minh Highway (not to be confused with the famous and historic Ho Chi Minh Trail). The latter is a footpath, weaving into Laos, used by Viet Kong troops to ferry munitions out of sight of American helicopters. The former, which stays entirely in Vietnam territory, is a paved but hillier inland alternative to the chaos and carnage of Highway 1 on the coast, also linking Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi.

Oddly, the route which is an obvious and appealing alternative for the bike tourist has precious little written about it online, and despite assurances of ‘frequent’ guesthouses and hotels, the truth is that they are somewhat scarce. There is nowhere to nowhere to stay that we noticed between Pho Chau and Tan Ky (though both have a few options each and it’s not a particularly arduous ride between the two).

The route itself makes for great bike touring – a quiet, well paved route that threads its way through rural Vietnam, linking mid sized towns and many hamlets along the way. Once again, we found the people to be very friendly and courteous, and the food to be very average! Thankfully, rural Vietnam’s saving grace on a foodie front is its great coffee culture. In almost every village a sign optimistically indicating wifi (yeah right…) and more realistically, coffee, offers caffeine junkies a cheap (50cents) strong and super sweet drip filtered shot of the good stuff. And the drinkers? Far from the work-driven busy stereotype, most Vietnamese (men!) are quite content, it seems, to while away most of the working day sipping coffee, playing cards and reading the paper.

We didn't know Vietnam did tea

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