There is really only one word needed to describe today, wet! I got up early as I wanted to make the Hien Luong Bridge before lunch. I was 75km away and all going well I should make it. I had made an arrangement the previous evening with Anh, the owner of the hostel I was staying to meet Mr. Minh at the bridge. Now Mr. Minh was described as tall, handsome with a moustache, he would meet me on the north side of the bridge, okay, we’ll see how that goes.
As I emerged from my room, it was blowing a gale, good job it was in the right direction, well sort of, I would take a NNE wind, who knows I might be down there in an hour the way it was blowing. As I headed out of Dong Hoi I considered the idea of stopping for a coffee before I left Dong Hoi, there seemed to be some half decent places to stop. I was worried that the wind would change direction while I sat an indulged myself. I found a nice coffee shop and ordered 2 coffees, an apparent latte and a vietnamese coffee, just incase the latte was rubbish, which it was.
Well the wind didn’t change direction, however it did drop a little as the rain set in! And then it rained and it rained and it rained. I mean you can only get so wet, then it’s impossible to get any wetter. Thankfully the panniers I bought are waterproof, and they actually are, all important stuff was stowed. So I rode in the torrential rain stopping only once in 75km at a roadside cafe. It was okay, at least I was cool.
I arrived at Hien Luong Bridge before 11.00. I can hear some one calling “Alice, Alice” sure enough Mr. Minh was there, he had found me, thank goodness. I never would have found him, other than tall for a Vietnamese the description was a little off, the moustache was gone, he was very dapper though in his tweed, tailored jacket. He continued to call me Alice, they struggle with my name here and like to call me Alice.
Now Mr. Minh stood up to his hype, he did have an excellent knowledge of local history and turned out to be an excellent Tour Guide. We walked over the bridge which is also known as the re-unification Bridge. The bridge went over the river that divided North Vietnam from the south. The area, which is known as the DMZ, de-militarization zone was where the bulk of the fighting took place in the American War as it is known here. The area was bombed heavily and as a result 75,000 of the local villagers went under ground. No Mr. Minh was from South Vietnam and he offered an un-biased view, the museum however was very anti-American, which is understandable.
We jumped on Mr. Minh’s motorbike and scooted out to Vinh Moc, thankfully the rained had stopped, Mr. Minh’s tweed jacket may not have survived a down pour. The Vinh Moc tunnels were incredible, the people lived in these tunnels for 6 years, venturing out at night to cook and toilet. There was a toilet inside but the use of it was discouraged due to the enclosed space and the smell. There was a surgery room and a meeting room. families slept in small alcoves dug off the main tunnel. A bomb shelter was built, it was deeper than the rest of the tunnels and had no steps down to it, in order to get down quickly they would slide down the slippery surface, needing a rope to pull themselves back up.
We returned to the bridge and only just made it as the rain set in again, I headed of in the rain arriving in Dong Ha 25km later at Tam’s Cafe. Mr. Minh assured me that Tam would look after me and set me up in a guesthouse for the night. Which he did, true to his word I arrived at lovely, clean and dry guesthouse with a hot shower, thank you Mr. Minh, Mrs Alice arrived safely.
I am now officially in south Vietnam.