Monday, March 23, 2009

Muong Cha

The guesthouse didn't serve breakfast so we went to the town market, just across the road.

It may have been a small town but it had quite a nice market, with a very asian sense to it. At one side we saw worms being extracted from some kind of branch and put in jars of what looked like honey, there were snakes and lizards in a cage. Rows of ladies in pointy bamboo hats sold piles of small shell fish and live shrimps. There were even vendors of cats, which I presume were not intended to become someone's household pet but rather part of the menu. Freddie even spotted meat which had a tale like a rat, presumably to identify what the customers would be getting.
We found our way to the stall that had fed us the previous evening and hat some noodle soup. I had a suspicion that the stock was based on meat even though we'd gone to great pains to explain that we wanted something without meat. I made a note to self to add that to the list of things to point to in the very helpful Loney Planet phrase book that we'd be lost without here.
As we were leaving the guesthouse we were invited to a cup of green tea with the family of the owner and a neighbour, who spoke A bit of English. He explained that his son was living in Berlin and was married to woman there who was very fat, though this didn't seem to bother him. Looking around here I can imagine that being fat must be quite a thing,
The road out of town was quite nice, though there was lots of road works and was fairly bumpy at times. With Freddie still on pain killers for her sore back muscles it was slow going, especially over the non-smooth sections. It was also very hot.
We went North, following highway 12 which didn't have much traffic on it. The road went up and down a couple of different valleys along the way The hills on either side of the valley were mostly quite bare with a lot of deforestation. There was some burning off apparant, some going on as we passed but not as much as in Laos. Most of the time we were cycling beside green rice paddies which gave off a lovely smell, very similar to cooked rice but with a touch of 'green' added to it.
Everyone that we passed on the tandem who saw us go by stopped what they were doing and stared. Many waved though most waited for us to wave them before doing so. People were pretty friendly, which was a surprise to me. I'd been led to believe that the Vietnamese were diffifcult to deal with and not so sympathetic. I didn't find this to be the case at all, though as mentioned earlier, communicating was sometimes challenging and having a phrase book handy helped a lot.
We'd decided not to make it a hard day and stopped fairly frequently when Freddie needed to stretch or the sore muscles got too much. We'd been told that there was a basic guesthouse in a town up the way and reached it by 4pm. As described the guesthouse was very basic. It was a dormatory for workers It had some charm, being in a building that looked as if it predated the deperture of the French. Our room cost 60,000 dong. For this we got a fan, 4 rock hard beds and greenish painted walls that could use a bit of paint, but a bathroom along the way. Outside our door we had a view out onto the main road out of town, which I guess will quieten down later in the night, otherwise I'll use my ear plugs. It seemed a bit overpriced and I should have bargained better but there wasn't much else obvious on offer.
The town was strung along a river, there were buildings on either side of the road with nothing much behind them. It was big enough to have a market and an Internet cafe, both of which will probably be visited later this evening.
N 21'45.494 E 103'5.517
56km - 13.7 km/hr - 4 hr 4 mins

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