After our visit to Hue, about two weeks ago, we changed directions and were heading north again, alternately either close to the coast (more cities and better supply situation) or in the hinterland along the Ho Chi Minh highway (nicer scenery, but a bit more hilly and less varied food wise).
Two National Parks mainly attracted us towards the hinterland, that is the Phong Nha and the Cuc Phuong National Park. Both quite beautiful and dominated by lush green karst hills, the later a bit less spectacular, yet the first National Park in Vietnam. However, lush green hills revealing steep karstic rockfaces and therein embedded bright green rice paddies is a very typical beautiful picture we came across quite a couple of times in Vietnam, not only in the National Parks.
Now, in between these natural scenes there were plenty of water buffalos, overloaded motorbikes and bicycles, conical shaped hats (and, the latest fashion, green pith helmets) as well as even more rice paddies. The middle-sized cites we passed, like Dong Ha, Dong Hoi, Vinh, Ninh Binh, were quite practical for us as cyclist mainly for a greater variety of food (we even found a few supermarkets) but usually are lacking charme and don’t have anything special. Just busy practical cities made for living, still allowing us a glance into the true Vietnamese city life.
In those cities, however, we mostly seized the opportunity and got real coffee for Jela at one of the many Cafe’s. And almost every time we were delighted with the friendly, curious and helpful people we met there.
The last week, we exclusively cycled in almost unbearable heat – with the Vietnamese shaking their heads upon our endeavor. Thus, to bear with relentless sun, we got into the habit of having an early afternoon beer – one liter of relatively cheap Bia Hoi (Vietnamese draught beer) for about an Euro. Once it was even accompanied by a whole roasted duck (presumably Bio according to European standards, 😉 ) and 5 middle-sized baquettes.
Our next destination will be just another karst region (what else), the well-known Halong-bay and areas close-by. At least its karst with water 😉