A day on the road with Andrea

Nha Trang Travel Blog

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Airing up the tires

An early morning rain freshened the air, making a suitable day for a ride so we borrowed a second bicycle from Wilson's house. The sky was overcast and streets still wet when we had the tires aired up. An old man down the street made a living with a tire pump, a small ammo box of assorted tools for patching inner tubes, and a red plastic chair propped under a shade tree. The going rate in town for air was 1,000 VN Dong per tire which equaled about five U.S. cents.

Traffic was light as we headed toward the Nha Trang train station, then left the main road toward the Cai River. Narrow, winding side streets had long stretches of mud and deep puddles. I was happy that Andrea didn't mind getting her feet splattered by mud and brown water.

Freight train from the north
She knew it was a minor price to pay for great adventure. We passed the 'main stream' restaurants lining the Cai River on its south bank. Those places had been well-established for generations and would make for a fine dinner but we were more interested in a morning coffee further upstream.

Our timing was perfect to meet a passing train at the railroad crossing. Each crossing within Nha Trang was manned by a railroad employee who closed the crossing gates manually. One of the red and white poles was being lowered as I jockeyed for a photo angle of the approaching train. It was a freight train from the north. It sped past and the gates were lifted open; the unexpected event began and ended in less than two minutes.

We negotiated more puddles and mud to reach the Cay Bay riverside restaurant but it was closed.

On the Vinh Ngoc bridge
That was one of my favorites for sipping coffee or beer and watching rural pedestrian, bicycle, and motorbike traffic on the rickety Vinh Ngoc bridge. We paid our 1,000 VND toll and clattered onto it. The toll goes to maintain the fragile bridge. Half way across, my bicycle seat broke. Fortunately, the passenger rack was padded so I could continue on, though that was not the best place to adjust to pedaling from the back seat. With hardly any weight on the front wheel, I wobbled and weaved wildly and was lucky not to end up in the river.

On the other side of the Cai we found access to the railroad line and its tunnel. Thick vegetation had choked off my previous approach so we had to park the bikes and walk the tracks farther than normal. We strolled through the tunnel, past the unconcerned signal stationmaster, and out onto the railroad bridge.

Coffin makers
Then at mid-span it began to shudder and vibrate as a northbound train thundered past.

We went back to our bikes and pedaled to a roadside grocery shop for iced coffees. Yet another train sped by as we sipped those. We followed a different country road back toward the river. It was flooded badly at its lowest point between two rice paddies so we followed a local girl cycling through those deeper waters. Back on dry ground I was more comfortable pedaling from the back seat and practiced wheelies. We spotted a small shop that was manufacturing coffins. No one seemed bothered by our presence so I took a few photos. One worker was doing some finishing work on one box while another cut the display lid with a circular saw. A truck out front had half a dozen new coffins ready for delivery. Back at the rickety bridge, we stopped at a small boatyard. An older man and his son, or daughter, and spouse were tinkering on a small diesel engine which was dismantled on a small tarp on the ground. We finally made our way back across the Vinh Ngoc bridge without mishap and pedaled back into the streets of Nha Trang.

 

cneoridium says:
These are the coolest pictures yet!
Posted on: Oct 27, 2010
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Airing up the tires
Airing up the tires
Freight train from the north
Freight train from the north
On the Vinh Ngoc bridge
On the Vinh Ngoc bridge
Coffin makers
Coffin makers
Deep waters
Deep waters
At the railroad crossing (photo by…
At the railroad crossing (photo b…
Closing the crossing gate
Closing the crossing gate
The railroad bridge
The railroad bridge
Train on the bridge
Train on the bridge
Broken bike seat
Broken bike seat
Another train
Another train
Cutting the display lid
Cutting the display lid
Coffin customer
Coffin customer
Boatyard by the Vinh Ngoc bridge
Boatyard by the Vinh Ngoc bridge
Boatyard mechanics
Boatyard mechanics
Andrea on the bridge
Andrea on the bridge
Nha Trang
photo by: rotorhead85