Following the Cai River

Nha Trang Travel Blog

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Dancing roosters
    

The few villagers who had gathered on a soccer field were watching a cockfight. Two hefty roosters danced circles around each other kicking with their feet and wrestling with their necks. It must have been a training bout since neither had razor blades taped to their legs and I didn't see anyone placing bets. I was a few miles upstream from Nha Trang searching for a way to cross the Cai River. I didn't find the bridge that I was looking for - or even an open view along the river - so headed back to the main road to continue further inland. Somewhere past the Nghia Hoa Pagoda, I turned again into the countryside. I didn't have a map and tried to remember what I had seen on Google Earth.

 

Lanes narrowed to trails then footpaths.

Bicycle in a rice paddy (not mine)
The few people that I saw were mainly farmers setting grassy clumps of new rice into green paddies. I passed a few well-established homesteads to finally reach the river at a thick stand of bamboo. But the small clearing offered no view, upstream or down. No bridge. When a light rain began to fall I took shelter under a mango tree by the Dinh Phu An temple. The colorful Chinese style building looked clean and freshly painted. It was dated 1830. No one stirred at the remote site and a black dog there didn't even bark.

 

A narrow lane of blacktop eventually came out at Highway 1, about seven miles from Nha Trang. That two-lane route is the primary overland artery between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and allows much of its traffic to bypass Nha Trang altogether. Dark clouds and morning sun made for a scenic rest stop at the nearby Cai River Bridge.

Cai River Bridge at Highway 1
The river was half its width as in Nha Trang. From the Highway 1 bridge, clouded skies reflected nicely on glassy water. Big trucks and heavy traffic bounced the short span like a California earthquake.

 

Traffic on Highway 1 is treacherous so I hugged the edge, pedaling north. I ate a fine meal of rice, chicken, and green beans at a roadside eatery by the Dien Phu market. Prices away from the city were much cheaper. It cost 30,000 VN Đong (about US$1.60) for the meal, a bottle of water, and a pack of cigarettes. About a mile further up the highway, I turned off to cross rice paddies and rural countryside back toward Nha Trang.

 

The paved cut-across led me right to the Vinh Phuong Bridge which I could not find from the other side.

Rough water on the Cai
The Cai River drops about a meter there over a rocky cataract. A waterside restaurant-bar provided a nice stop for a cold bottle of Tiger beer. The glassy brown river thundered over rocks and boulders for just a few meters then returned to calm before passing under the bridge.

 

After the crossing, I turned toward the city on narrow blacktop. I eventually stumbled upon the familiar Vinh Ngoc market and suddenly knew where I was. I went to the Cay Bang riverside restaurant by the rickety Vinh Ngoc bridge that I had found last week. A boat or debris had knocked out a good section and that crossing was closed. Fortunately I was on the south side.

 

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Dancing roosters
Dancing roosters
Bicycle in a rice paddy (not mine)
Bicycle in a rice paddy (not mine)
Cai River Bridge at Highway 1
Cai River Bridge at Highway 1
Rough water on the Cai
Rough water on the Cai
The Nghia Hoa Pagoda
The Nghia Hoa Pagoda
Dinh Phu An temple
Dinh Phu An temple
Sky on the Cai
Sky on the Cai
Setting rice
Setting rice
Working a rice paddy
Working a rice paddy
Boat near a depth gage
Boat near a depth gage
Dropping Cai
Dropping Cai
Damaged bridge
Damaged bridge
Broken Vinh Ngoc bridge
Broken Vinh Ngoc bridge
Nha Trang
photo by: rotorhead85