Oh it's so lovely to wake up knowing you have a nice breakfast waiting for you!! Sets us up nicely for the day! We hired push bikes for the day today from the hotel for $1. We looked ridiculously cool- they were old school bikes and had baskets, and mine had a bell so I could ring at people to move out of the way- even though nobody listened!
The day started out pretty dull and it didn't look like it was going to be nice but it brightened up as soon as we got out and it was blue skies and boiling all day. We headed out on the main road towards the beach, which was just one long straight road. It was pretty daunting getting on the roads at first with all the other traffic swerving past you, but they seemed to be good here compared to other places and they were more careful around bikes and they abided by traffic lights too which was a bonus!! We soon got used to it, it was just difficult if you were trying to turn across the road- I nearly put us in front of a bus at one point!
It didn't take too long until we were at the first beach area- Cua Dia Beach. The woman at reception had told us that this beach had been ruined by a bad winter last year and it had washed away a lot of the sand. They were now trying to protect the sand and build barriers. On the main road just before the beach we were flagged down by a man with a whistle and a beacon, beckoning us to one side. The sign next to him said no bikes at the beach area and he pointed at us to go park our bikes up. We explained that we were stopping at the beach but he just kept pointing and saying no bikes. We saw other people parking up and walking and the park up area had a lot of bikes in so we thought we would go have a walk down to the beach and then cycle in a different direction. The bikes were locked up by a guy over the road who gave us a ticket and then went one bike, two bike, 10,000 dong! We were a little confused but just went with it as it was only 30p. We thought something wasn't right after that but set off towards the beach. We saw him stop and get other people, but then we saw others who didn't listen to them and carried on riding past! SCAM ALERT! We had been fooled! Shame on us for not realising, it was just he looked so official and had an official sign and everybody seemed to be stopping when we did! I was pretty annoyed, more at myself though, but it was funny really. At least it was only 30p!
There wasn't anything at this beach at all and they were just doing digging and building work to protect the sand so the beach wasn't even in use. Don't know what you would need to park your bike for that beach for! After our little scam we got our bikes back and headed up the next long main road to the next beach- An Bang Beach. This was the main nice beach in the area and had restaurants lining the beach that had free sun loungers if you bought something. We had to pay to park our bikes here again but that's because you can't park your bike anywhere else and this beach is actually in use!
We picked a restaurant and had a beer and ordered some lunch and then went and laid on the sun loungers for a while in the baking sun. It was so relaxing because there was a nice breeze. We weren't prepared for the beach at all and didn't have anything with us- no towel, no swim clothes, we had trainers on. I just sunbathed in my shorts and bra but we didn't get in the sea. It wasn't clear sea or anything but it looked nice and fun as there were some good waves. We saw little white crabs on the beach too so there was no chance of Nath getting in the sea here!
After a relax at the beach we started on the ride back to the town. We didn't really know where we were going but we knew we were heading in the right direction, just a different way to what we came. On the way back we passed loads of rice fields and the women were all out picking with the buffalo grazing the fields. It was amazing to see and we hadn't seen it close up yet. There were little paths through the fields so we cycled in and around them, passing a farmer with his bulls who gave us a wave. We went through the fields into a village and didn't really have a clue where we were but that was the fun part too! Everybody was lovely and smily and a lot of people said hello to us. It was such a great experience, what you would pay to go on a trip to see and we did it all ourselves. We saw buses stopping at the area on trips to take photos. Riding through this part of the town really felt like what you would imagine Vietnam to be like and everybody was so nice!
Past the village and to the main road we didn't know where we were at all. Nath thought it was one way and I thought it was the other. Luckily we decided to go with Naths instinct as I was always wrong with directions- and I would have been again this time! We came back to old town and cycled in and out of the many streets and through the market which was a challenge! We went to the other side of the water and sat and ate a sandwich from a vender by the canal. We then cycled down past the docks and over the big vehicle bridge out of the old town. Vehicles weren't allowed in old town, just walking and cycling, which was good as there were no cars. Some people still drove their scooters but that seemed to be a common thing. We had a cycle around Cam Nam Island across the bridge, through the villages there where everyone seemed friendly there too. It seemed here that it you wasn't in the tourist area and nobody needed anything from you then everybody was friendly to you, which was a very nice change.
We headed back over the bridge and came through a different bit of the town, again not having a clue where we was! It seemed like rush hour now too and everybody was on the school run- it got quite busy on the roads and we had dodge everything we could! We spotted a sports bar and decided to stop for a drink and played some pool and darts. Think we were a bit excited after that beer!! We rode back through the streets, taking any street we fancied and eventually and luckily came back to old town. We rode around for a bit and then picked a restaurant by the water to go to and treat ourselves. We were going to get a set menu each and try a few different dishes but it seemed to work our cheaper and with more food to just order the full dishes separately on the menu. We ordered 6 different dishes, 2 which we hadn't tried yet. Wontons and White rose, which is like a soft filled mini dumpling. Not the dumplings we have on Sunday dinner though! We ordered Spring rolls, Rice, Veg in garlic and Cao Lau. It was a nice feast and we loved everything, even the two new dishes which were beautiful! We were really embracing the food and trying anything! Defiantly going to miss Asian food!
We had another ride around after dinner and headed back to our room. I had another bath and read my book for an hour. Thought I should make the most of it while it was there. Plus my arse was killing after that bike, swear it is going to bruise! Had one of the best days today, it was such a change from anything we had done and we got to see the real part of Vietnam away from all the tourism! It was also great to go off exploring on our own and have that freedom, the bikes were so fab! Looking forward to doing it again tomorrow!!