Riding with Bill
Nha Trang Travel Blog› entry 119 of 126 › view all entries
There are several Bill's in town; expats from Australia, Canada, and the United States. Though he had a motorbike, Hawaii Bill had never ventured very far up the Cai River. He wanted to see some of the places that I had discovered by bicycle over the years so I rented a motorbike and we headed into the countryside. We paid our 2,000 VND toll (U.S. 10 cents) and crossed the river on the rickety Vinh Ngoc bridge.
Gaining access to the railroad tunnel from that side is a little tricky but I had followed the trails leading to it many times before. We parked the bikes and walked through the tunnel. No sooner than we exited, a train passed through from the north. I was always surprised at how few of the expats living in Nha Trang knew that the tunnel even existed.
After walking back through the tunnel we continued by motorbike to an underpass that led us to a large cemetery on the slope of the Vinh Phuoc Hills. Another train passed toward the north. Gravesites had been freshly cleaned or painted for the recent lunar new year celebrations when Vietnamese honor their ancestors. On a wide loop leading back toward the wooden bridge, we made several more stops. One was at the coffin factory where the workers remembered me from previous visits. They were more than willing to have another photo taken since they knew I would eventually print it out and bring them a copy.
After a couple of miles we rode out to mid-span on the Vinh Phuong Bridge. That road continues past open rice fields out to Highway 1 but we just wanted to have a look at the river making its one-meter drop over a rocky dam. The water level was much lower than on my last visit a couple of months ago.
We stayed on the south side of the river and continued to my favorite crossing point.
We finally crossed the river and made our way past rustic country homes, lotus ponds, and rice fields. The distant head and shoulders of a giant standing Buddha guided us toward Highway 1. The statue was still under construction and stood five stories tall. We watched about six workers hoisting white plaster, one bucket at a time, to fill in framework from the arms down. The head and shoulders were already completed and brightly visible from miles away.