Tracks and Bridges

Nha Trang Travel Blog

 › entry 48 of 126 › view all entries
Vinh Ngoc
    

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.

Statue of Ho Chi Minh
I wondered if they were planted there from the north after the war - to maintain a perimeter around the city and keep an eye on the southerners. Jeez, I could be setting myself up for an ambush if this trail comes to a dead end... I stopped the bike at a small yard cluttered with statues.

 

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.

Garlic and pepper
A headstone propped against a tree out back. I liked the hefty tiger statue with whiskers of wire. An unpainted statue of Ho Chi Minh seemed to watch my every move.

 

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.

Bananas and bamboo
And since the river road was also paved I turned left to head upstream. A gravel road there would be too far from civilization to risk a flat tire. I wound my way past a few scattered houses with large gardens and other small farms. The narrow road finally ended in bamboo forest at a banana plantation close to the riverbank. Several farmers labored a nearby field. Another man shoveled sand onto an ox-drawn cart next to the river. Several miles across the Cai, I could see the power-lines and traffic out on Highway 1.

 

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.

Freight train crossing the Cai River
I walked the bike for a good part of the way, wanting to focus on the views instead of on where I was going. A third of the way across, the railroad bridge appeared about a mile downstream. Yes! I found it! A church also appeared - on the opposite side, further distant, and I took it to be the church that I had seen on last year's search for the bridge.

 

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.

View from the Cay Bang
Just before my own crossing at the smaller bridge, I side-tracked to the sound of hammering nails where boat builders were repairing small craft. After the same greeting and camera gesture as to the cement workers, and same positive results, I lingered in their shaded yard out of the scorching sun and took a few pictures.

 

 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:

http://www.travbuddy.com/travel-blogs/44289/Old-Man-Church-79

vances says:
Great excursion, but it really took a "toll" in a lot of places!
Posted on: Jan 09, 2010
Dr_Seuss says:
Sounds a good day out Dan 8)

But how easy for the Huda girl to work her charms :D
Posted on: Jan 08, 2010
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Vinh Ngoc
Vinh Ngoc
Statue of Ho Chi Minh
Statue of Ho Chi Minh
Garlic and pepper
Garlic and pepper
Bananas and bamboo
Bananas and bamboo
Freight train crossing the Cai Riv…
Freight train crossing the Cai Ri…
View from the Cay Bang
View from the Cay Bang
Tiger
Tiger
Working a field
Working a field
The yard
The yard
The tiger
The tiger
Happy kids
Happy kids
Veggies at the Vinh Ngoc market
Veggies at the Vinh Ngoc market
The Vinh Ngoc market
The Vinh Ngoc market
Cow at the Cai River
Cow at the Cai River
View to Highway 1
View to Highway 1
Shoveling sand
Shoveling sand
Country bridge
Country bridge
Graveyard behind the church
Graveyard behind the church
Crossing the Vinh Ngoc bridge
Crossing the Vinh Ngoc bridge
Bridge traffic
Bridge traffic
Boat under the Vinh Ngoc bridge
Boat under the Vinh Ngoc bridge
The Cay Bang restaurant
The Cay Bang restaurant
Cay Bang sign
Cay Bang sign
Pouring a Huda
Pouring a Huda
Passenger train from the north
Passenger train from the north
Cay Bang restaurant from the Vinh …
Cay Bang restaurant from the Vinh…
Nha Trang
photo by: rotorhead85