We spend one night in Kon Tum and on February 9th we head back towards the coast as planned. 189 kilometers from Kon Tum to Qui Nhơn, and my first experience on a DT road. So far, I have spent all of my time on QL roads. These are the national highways and are always paved and in quite good condition, whereas DT roads are countryside roads which are unpaved.
Our route takes us through farmlands and the road we are on is essentially a dirt track. I swerve to avoid running over a pig, and I mentally add it to the long list of collisions I have had to avoid. We ride through smaller villages where children busy themselves with herding cattle or playing outside with sticks, rocks or whatever else they can find. Everyone is stunned as we pass, and smiles and waves are abundant. In spite of the dust, I find myself opening up my helmet so they can see that I am smiling back.
Michael makes up lyrics to a song for our ride and he sings it on the top of his lungs as I ride alongside him. I am making a voice note at the time – making note of things I want to write down later – and his singing ends up on the recording, together with my laughter and the sound of our engines. I run out of gas for the third time – oops – and we take our usual breaks where we eat chips with questionable flavors and chat about everything and nothing. Our dirt road takes us back to a highway and as the sleeper buses full of backpackers race past us, missing us by centimeters, I am already nostalgic about the ride. I am acutely aware that every kilometer that we cover south of Hoi An brings us closer to the end of the ride. Soon I will be one of those backpackers in a bus, headed to my next destination after Vietnam. It’s not something I wish to think about, so I push the thought from my mind and overtake Michael instead, teasing him as always.
Our route takes us up into the mountains and as we descend, the views are stunning. We stop at a roadside stall and lounge in hammocks strung up between the trees. We chat, enjoy the view of rolling mountains and nap before we continue on. It is quite obvious that we are both doing what we can to make our rides last longer. I do not mind at all.
We arrive in Qui Nhơn at the end of the day and stop for our last break. We eat rice paper rolls and search online for a place to stay. After a bit of looking, we settle on a hostel in a place called Nhon Hai. It’s another half hour away, but it turns out to be worth every extra minute. We ride up a bridge over a waterway to find sand dunes. The road gets smaller and narrower, twisting up into the brush and we arrive to find that Nhon Hai is a small fishing village. Our hostel, Nhon Hai Beach Hostel, is right on the beach and we are given a room that looks out at a bay full of blue and red Vietnamese fishing boats.
We end up spending two days there snorkeling, fishing and, you guessed it: building bonfires.