Monday, August 11, 2014

Bus to Vung Tau

Travelling by nature involves a fair bit of misunderstandings and general confusion. Ours today was trying to book a bus from Saigon to Vung Tao. What a mess! But after arguing with the station guards, we and our bikes were on our way to the small beach town we have heard so much about. Cheating, I know but we won't have enough time to see it all so some parts are going to have to involve a little cheating.
I have just realised that my on-the-go blogging app is scrambling my posts so I apologize if I am less coherent than usual (I know I haven't set the bar very high to begin with). As soon as I get connected to a real PC with decent internet I will go back and update (and hopefully upload some maps and pics for you too!)
We arrived in Vung Tau on a Saturday night, which seems to be the busiest night. People from HCMC holiday here because it is so close and perhaps our view was skewed due to the sheer number of holiday makers on the strip but it seemed, in the budget places at least that they were not in the least bit interested in our patronage. To be fair, they seemed to be mostly booked out for the night and the atmosphere was very much like Cavil Ave on the Gold Coast during schoolies week so we might have had a better reception if we had arrived on a week night or if we booked ahead. Seeing as we had been disorganized up to this point, we saw no real reason to start booking ahead now and we did find a nha nghi basically on the beach for 500,000 so we were fine. We only stayed one night and hit the bikes the next day to cycle from Vung Tau, 21km up the coast and past Long Hai Beach.
Long Hai Beach really needs to be seen to be believed. There are tents set up on the sand with restaurants underneath, it has a carnival atmosphere and the pungent aroma of garbage and rotting sea food is overpowering. I know that the environmental consequences of beach resorts are complex but from my observation, if there isn't a resort, no one seems to give a toss about the quality of the shoreline and there is rubbish tossed everywhere, especially plastic bags filled with i-don't-know-what. As soon as a resort backs onto the beach, they seem to keep the rubbish off the beach... I don't know where they put it but at least it isn't in the water.
Somehow, this does not take away from the feverish excitement on the water front and people relax in beach chairs under tarps drinking out of coconuts and full glasses of iced tea. The kids play in the water and build sandcastles while parents and family eat on the beach. Fishing boats are scattered out a few hundred metres from the coast, painted in blue, jade, green and other bright colours while round fibre glass buckets about 2m in diametre, also for fishing are dotted along the shoreline. There is a Buddhist temple built up on the hillside running down to the beach and then resorts running the rest of the way up the coast where beach access is restricted. We cycled along past the resorts and an 18 hole golf course (again, I am sure environmentally complicated but no rubbish). That is when my tyre went flat.
Normally, there are bike repair guys everywhere but not this time so we pulled off the road into a road stop and turned the bike on its side to repair the puncture. There were a group of men drinking tea out the front and I guess they were bored because they took the repair kit from John's hand and started to work on the tyre. They stuffed it up (with 2 patches) and I had to get it done again the next day but it was totally entertaining watching 6 men work to fix a tiny hole caused by a sliver of metal no bigger than a staple. We couldn't get much further that day and luckily for us there was a nha nghi 3km down the road with a beautiful room for 300,000 and a tiki bar across the road.
Well rested, we are ready to hit the road.

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