I got up early and cycled out of Ky Anh in the drizzle, it was a beautiful, misty morning with the rain clouds coming across the mountains. In the distance to the east I could see smoke stacks, cranes and endless structures. I think there is a port over that way some where, it was in stark contrast to the beautiful green mountains to the west.
At some point along the road I came across a small fishing village, I spotted the beach through the trees, it was the first time I had seen the South China Sea so I thought it would be worthy of a detour. There were fishing boats on the beach, the beach was deserted, except one lady who looked at me suspiciously. I walked back from the beach, having decided that perhaps pushing my bike through all that sand was not such a good idea as the bike and I were covered in grit.
I started to cycle back the way I came, with the gears sounding terrible with all the sand stuck to them. A man was out in his front yard as I rode past, he called out “hello” and I called back. He then said “where you from?”. I stopped because rarely had I come across anyone with more English than “Hello”. His name was Quy and he invited me in to his home for a coffee and to meet his family. I initially thought I shouldn’t, then I thought, why not, I have heard this about Vietnamese people and how welcoming they are. Well the coffee was delicious, of course and exactly what I needed. He had a lovely home and family, they treated me like royalty, even though I was covered in grit and was soaking wet from the earlier rain.
I continued on from there and was becoming increasing concerned about a rather ominous looking mountain range that was looking like I would need to ride over, I could see trucks coming down in the distance and with a heavy heart I resigned myself to the fact that I had some serious riding to do, I was already fatigued by the 300km I had covered in the last 3 days, this was meant to be an easy day. As I rounded the bend, I saw it, a tunnel! What a wonderful sight, straight through that mountain and down hill to boot!
I arrived in the village of Khoung Ha and went to the Phong Nha Farmstay, there I met Lesley, she helps run the Farmstay, I had emailed her and she knew I was coming. She came up and gave me a hug, despite all my dirt and sweat, saying “I just love cyclists, welcome!” She can’t imagine how wonderful that was! Anyway, I also knew that she had no rooms but had recommended a home stay about a kilometre down the road and just come up to hers to eat. The home stay is run by a Vietnamese couple, Ha and Leui, what a treat, it’s a real farm, very traditional. They grow pepper trees, have pigs and a cow, there is nothing fancy about it, the room is decked out as a dormitory. What a lovely couple they are, Ha has been totally amused at my willingness to feed the pigs and do my laundry, she keeps hugging me! She speaks a little English, but we have had a bit of fun trying to have a conversation with a phrasebook.