Well what a busy couples of days, 132km covered and thankfully not too much hill climbing, the early morning ride out of Hoa Binh was gruelling, up hill and more up hill! I guess I expected it after so much down hill into Hoa Binh. Then after that it was downhill for a bit then gently rolling through the villages and rice fields. Its has been an amazing couple of days, I am in awe of the karst mountains, they are truly majestic, jutting out of the ground like massive, ancient pillars. I wondered if the locals who live amongst them even notice there beauty as they go about there day.
As I rode along there was so much to see, on the road there were bullock drays, farmers herding their cattle, motorbikes towing purpose built trailers for towing a pig, people walking pigs, farmers with a herd of goats (good luck with that!) and the workers off on there bikes with hoes and shovels across their shoulders. I followed a group of women, on their bicycles, obviously off to work with there gum boots on and garden hoes. They rode to a rice field where a man was waiting for them, complete in a very militant looking uniform, I think he was the boss. I wonder about that, Vietnam is a communist country, in all the small villagers there are loud speakers bellowing what sounds like a speech and sometimes singing, I have been told that it is propaganda, it would be interesting to see what they are saying.
As I was cycling along, I stumbled across a boat tour through the caves, the caves were so low, I had to duck down so I wouldn’t hit my head. I went through 9 caves in total, some of them over 300 metres long, it was a really beautiful spot.The boats were row boats and I felt sorry for the girl rowing, it was a long way. But I was so exhausted after all the riding that I was happy for her to do the work.
After I finished the boat tour I only had about 7km to cycle before I reached the Tam Coc Homestay, at least that was before I missed my turn off and my phone died, goodbye Google maps! So it was interesting finding my way out to the homestay with zero Vietnamese, eventually I asked a lady where Ninh Trang was, the village I was trying to get to, she pointed in the direction I was going so I carried on. I remembered the map a little and turned off down a side street, I found a sign for the homestay, it was pure luck, but it said 1km, not any particular direction and it was at a crossroads. I asked a man, he pointed back the way I came, a young girl pointed straight ahead and a lady popped up over a fence and pointed to the left. I just felt that she seemed more certain than the others so I went left, thankfully she was right and I arrived at the homestay, 17km later.
This is the best place I have stayed, I love it, it has a massive mountain behind and overlook the rice fields at the front. The owners speak English so I can actually order some food and know what I am getting, and have I eaten! Twice in a few hours, it was delicious. Especially the Pho which is a flat noodle soup with veggies and beef, challenging to eat with chop sticks and a spoon, much to the amusement of the waitress. I really didn’t care, I was so hungry as it’s been challenging to order food for the last two days. I thought I would reward myself with a beer, it was warm, oh well beer with ice, thats ok.