Time: 8 hours
We had a long drive ahead of us today - 270kms - the longest so far of the trip which meant an early start. It was quite surprising how much activity there is in the early hours of the morning - buffaloes ploughing and pulling carts with various things and farmers drying and harvesting rice.
It felt surreal eating my yoghurt (breakfast) on the back of the bike with the sun on my back and the wind blowing past us while passing farmers and water buffaloes!
We are now on the HCM trail or highway and the roads are much better and quite quiet which makes the driving easier and more pleasant. It’s flatter territory than before - lots of rice paddies, green countryside, inviting views and tea and coffee plantations.
The further we venture south, the more we see dark ominous clouds looming over us! Today it rained so we sheltered and ate a pot noodle for lunch in a roadside shop/person’s house. We’ve been doing this a lot when on the road as it’s cheap and the locals are usually friendly. They are especially interested in our map - they act as if they’ve never seen one before!
The journey felt long today. As we neared Phong Nha, the roads saw more hills and twists and turns. The scenery was pretty with many limestone karsts and greenery. The area around Phong Nha is beautiful and our hotel is within the national park which is a UNESCO world heritage site and known for its caves. However, it’s still off the beaten track and most of the visitors are Vietnamese. I’m sure in time to come this won’t be the case anymore - my advice - if you want to see Vietnam come asap as things are developing so quickly and everything is changing.
Tomorrow, the plan is to visit “Paradise Cave” (only discovered in 2010). Also, we found a farmstay that had amazing reviews on the internet so we tried to book a room. Unfortunately they were fully booked so we might pop up there for some Western food - Abby has had enough of eating rice and noodles for 2 weeks straight! And god our bums are starting to hurt!