Tracks and Bridges
Nha Trang Travel Blog› entry 48 of 126 › view all entries
I set out past the Cathedral and the train station heading east - inland from Nha Trang. Less than a mile past the Big Buddha statue, I intercepted the train tracks that I was looking for and turned north, hoping to eventually find the railroad bridge that crosses the Cai River.
The paved alleyway was smooth and clean and wound its way through residential areas that quickly became rural. Well-settled houses were brightly painted and nicely shaded by tropical trees and bushes.
People seemed surprised, almost shocked, to see a westerner pedaling through their out-of-the-way neighborhood. They didn't seem to smile as quickly as the locals in town and wore far more cone-hats than baseball caps.
Most of the works were concrete benches and tables but a wide variety of other artistic stonework and statues littered the yard. Many were old, weathered, and faded; others, cracked or broken - probably there for repairs. I greeted the oldest of three craftsmen while holding up my camera and panning the area. He acknowledged with a wide smile and a thumbs-up. Friendlies. I moseyed around the yard and took a few photos. One of the workers prepared a three-piece mold for bench or table legs while another, in the far corner, smoothed bench-tops with an electric sander.
Satisfied that I was not going to be ambushed, I continued toward the river. The hills northwest of Nha Trang gradually came into view. I stopped again to explore a bustling market at the cross-road village of Vinh Ngoc. The people and the area gave the feel of a countryside lifestyle unseen in Nha Trang. I eventually reached the Cai River. Several cattle grazed its bank just beyond a rice paddy. Jungle covered hills with rocky outcrops dominated the opposite side.
I knew the railroad bridge was somewhere downstream since I had not crossed back over its tracks.
Doubling back along the river for a couple of miles, I stumbled upon the rickety Vinh Ngoc bridge and paid the 1,000 VN Dong toll to cross it. The country bridge was too narrow for cars. Widely gapped planks rattled under any bicycle or motorbike making the 300-yard crossing. Bamboo guard rails lined its sides and long extension cords spiraled those to several light poles.
After the crossing I continued toward the church, huffing and puffing an uphill grade. Surrounding hills of thick tropical forest and rocky outcrops were dotted with hundreds of gravesites. Lower ground was rice paddy. When I finally reached the church, it was not the one from last year at all. And with no other roads toward the river, there was no choice but to backtrack to the Vinh Ngoc bridge - about a mile.
Hearing a train blasting its horn, I picked up my pace and managed to photograph it crossing the Cai River speeding toward Nha Trang.
Back on the south side, I paid the toll collector then stopped at the nearby Cay Bang outdoor restaurant for a cold Saigon beer. But the cunning Huda girl working there beamed an easy smile and cooed me into her own brand - a Danish blend brewed up in Hue City. The Huda name in fact came from the first two letters of Hue and the first two of Danmark (Denmark). It wasn't a bad beer and I ordered a second. Views from there were spectacular and the riverside shade was refreshing as the beer itself.
Here's a related story of looking for the same bridge last February: