I woke up for the first time at 5am to the sound of cockerels’ making their sunrise squawks. I managed to sleep through this for a while until at 6am I woke again, but this time to the sound of an enormous engine rumbling under the long house. I slept for another hour before I woke to the screams of a mother cautioning her kids – it was time to get up. After a simple breakfast and delicious passion fruit ice drink, it was time for me to be escorted by a lovely Hmong village girl to the lake where I was given a private tour by another local girl. The boats are over 150 years old and carved from trees so they are very narrow and a bit wobbly for the inexperienced. The calmness that transcends once on the lake is beautiful. Apart from the occasional kind and slightly awkward giggle from my captain, there wasn’t a sound to be heard. The cotton ball clouds and muted mountains are reflected perfectly in the stillness of the lake.
After my lazy morning we jumped on the bike and headed to a nearby coffee farmer to sample some proper Vietnamese coffee. The coffee here has a distinctive taste as it is mixed with rum and vanilla so it smells and tastes amazing. I bought a half kilo bag for 40,000 dong, just over 1 pound – bargain.
We continued on towards more waterfalls, passing through stunning countryside. Some of the roads where so long and straight it was pure pleasure driving along them. We passed some gorgeous little children playing on cows and exchanged photos for lollipops.
Stopping for lunch at a small café/ wood carving shop, we had DIY pho bo. I’m determined to remember and try this dish at home. Essentially a broth is served in a metal bowl on a hot plate. On side dishes are lots of rice noodles, chopped spring onions, various greens including lettuce and something resembling morning glory, some thin cut beef and various sauces. As and when you want to, it’s just a case of plopping some noodles and greens into the bowl for a few seconds until warmed, and the beef for a little longer, until cooked. Totally delicious and pretty healthy too. A little strange was that the owner of the cafe insisted on stroking my legs and hitting my arms as if they might do something amazing because they’re white – needless to say she was a little disappointed!
After lunch we drove along the Ho Chi Minh highway. After stopping to recover from the dust we continued on to the waterfalls, stopping at a brick factory along the way. I was surprised by the number of children and women working with the bricks, carrying, chopping, carting to the ovens. Apparently, it’s quite normal for women and children to do the job as it’s not very strenuous. Hmmm, not sure how that would go down back home . . .
Waterfalls were lovely and both of us jumped in fully clothed as it was so hot and the water too tempting. It was fortunately only a short, albeit very squelchy, drive to the hotel.
Tomorrow we will be traveling over 240km, almost 100km more than the past three days. Should be good roads at least so my bottom will be happy, and the Ho Chi Minh highway is something of an icon in Vietnam so looking forward to the drive.