Today we rode along the highway for a bit, tempers beginning to flare as the busses and trucks continued to honk at us (or anything else in their way). Sometimes the honks seemed to have almost a friendly connotation, because drivers would wave as they passed. I don’t think they realized how loud even the tiniest “toot toot” sounds to a cyclist. The blasts had me considering wearing my earplugs to muffle the noise. Not good. When given the chance, we opted to take a less direct route that didn’t have as much traffic. It was longer, but we had a full day to cover 60-70 km on flat terrain, so we had plenty of time to meander. We rode through tiny towns and rice paddies, getting turned around several times along the way. Thankfully the GPS function on my iPhone and some helpful directions from the locals helped us get back on track.
We arrived in Phuc Yen, our destination for the night, and ate a late lunch of banh my. The lady who sold them to us was very friendly and curious about our travels. We sat on little chairs at her stand on the side of the road, snarfed down our sandwiches and had a broken conversation with her about our travels. She enjoyed seeing pictures of our time in Ha Giang.
After settling down at our guesthouse for the evening, I set out to get my bike washed. Today was a muddy day, and my chain and gears were getting really gritty. A thorough power washing and soap scrub down cost me less than 50 cents US and I felt like I had a new bike! I should have asked her to power wash me too, because my leggings and jacket had a good splattering of mud on them. Walking around town, many people wagged their finger at me, disapproving of my muddiness.
After dinner, Margaret and I wandered down a street where we stumbled upon a whole new section of the city. We indulged in chocolate ice cream bars (mmm) and got our nails done! The manicurist spoke some English, and took her time doing our nails while asking questions about where we were from and where we were traveling. She looked in an English-Vietnamese phrase book to ask us if we had found a hotel and said that she could help us find one. While working diligently on our nails, she smiled, laughed and offered us each advice on which colors complimented our complexion, using a dictionary to look up words she didn’t know. I ended up with hot pink, and Margaret got ballpoint pen ink blue. According to the lady, my color was “cutie” and Margaret’s was “fashion”. As we were leaving, she gave us some dried apricots coated in ginger, and used Google translate to explain that we should “go suck it”. Three hours after arriving at her shop, we left satisfied with our fancy nails, but also so impressed by the genuine kindness she showed us.
We’re getting to bed late tonight thanks to our night on the town. Tomorrow we’ll be back in Hanoi!