On November 4th Fred the bike is embarking on a six month journey across Southeast Asia. Starting in Singapore, Fred plans to make his way up the west coast of Malaysia, across Thailand, Cambodia, up through Vietnam and into Laos. After that... who knows? Fred invites you to follow him through his adventure. Any advice from fellow travelers is always welcome.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Quan Hoa-Na Meo

Total Distance:55.69km
Total Time:4h33m39s
Average Speed:12.2km/h
Maximum Speed:41.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:6489.48km

Why, oh why, do I always make things harder for myself than they have to be? Before I left Hanoi I was told by various other travellers that a Laos Visa could be obtained at the boarder. In light of this information, I didn't worry about getting one ahead of time. I should have double checked, just to be safe. As it turns out Laos Visas are only available at some borders, Na Meo not being one of them. At this point I am on the last day of my Vietnam Visa, which is another problem all together. I talked to the border guards who, surprisingly, were actually pretty nice. They told me I would have to go back to Hanoi, apply for a Visa to Laos, and come back. As far as the Vietnamese Visa is concerned... I have five days to get back to the border, at which time I will have to pay a penalty of $10US.
I took a bus back to Hanoi after spending the night in Na Meo. It was a 10 hour ride. Luckily, I've spent enough time here to know my way around, so finding a place to stay was painless. Now I have 5 days to get back. Obviously I'll be taking the bus. Can it be done? Let's hope so.

Mai Chau-Quan Hoa

Total Distance:96.54km
Total time:7h03m38s
Average Speed:13.6km/h
Maximum Speed:45.0km/h
Total Distance So far:6433.79km

Last night's sleep was one of the best I've had in a while. It was quiet... so quiet! I fell asleep actually able to hear the sounds of birds chirping, of the wind blowing and the fish splashing around in the pond. I took an early night, as I was pretty beat from the day. Around 11:00 I awoke to the faint sound of of traditional Vietnamese folk music in the background. It was beautiful. The soft beating of the drums was a great sound to hear right before you close your eyes and drift off.
The next morning I was off for another crack at those mountains. I've never sweat so much in my life. It's hard, still there is something so self satisfying about it. It really does give you a sense of accomplishment when you stop at the summit and peer down at what you have just done. The road is in pretty good condition. Again, this is a big improvement over the trip to Delat.
There were few problems today. Fred is still doing okay. My only complaint was a run in I had with two guys in a truck. They stopped to ask me if I wanted a lift. I'm starting to get a little worried that I won't make it to Laos before my Visa expires, so I said yes. At this point they laughed and drove away. All's well that ends well though, I made it to Quan Hoa.
The hotel I stayed at was a total rip off. $10Us/night, and not very clean I might add. However, when there is only one hotel in town, you are left with no option but to pay whatever they are asking. I had another bad dinning experience too. I ordered chicken and rice. The chicken they brought me still had fur on it. Do you see the problem with that statement? That's right, chickens (at least the last time I checked) don't have fur!

Hoa Binh-Mai Chau

TOtal Distance:74.27km
Total Time:4h26m22s
Average Speed:14.0km/h
Maximum Speed:46.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:6337.25km

I haven't had access to a computer for a few days, so excuse me if I use present tense for things that obviously have happened in the past. I've been keeping entries in my journal so I wouldn't forget anything.
Hills, hills, and...did I mention the hills? I'm back in the mountains now. I'd almost forgotten how gruelling those heavy climbs can be. I guss I had better get used to it, as I suspect I'll be in the mountains for some time to come. Today was particularily hard. The climbs were long, though not nearly as steep as those I encountered on my way to Delat. There were a few downslopes, one great one just before I hit Mai Chau. However the majority of the ride was uphill. I guess the days of 200km rides are done. It was insanely hot. I got a flat tire, which I have become a pro at changing by this point. Around 11:00 I started to get really hungry. Biking in the scortching heat with a rumbling tummy is a recipe for disaster, so I thought it best to stop and fuel up. I attempted to stop at three different roadside restaurants, all of which full on ignored my presents when I walked in. They didn't acknowledge me, wouldn't servre me. It was a complete waist of my time. I would understand if they were busy, but all three of them had nobody in the place except for me. Even when I tried to talk to them, the would just ignore me. Finally I found somewhere willing to serve me. I ordered, not really knowing what I had ordered. As I was sitting there waiting I peered into the kitchen and what sis I see? A dog head with the meat shaved off almost to the bone. Needless to say, I ate the rice and vegtables they brought, but neglected the meat.
I made it to Mai Chau. I would have liked to press on a little further. I've heard good things about Mai Chau though, so I thought it was worth visiting. I'm sure glad I did. What a great place. Nestled in the mountains of Northern Vietnam lays this quiet and serene litle village. The guesthouses come in the form of stilt houses, and run at only about $3 or $4/night. The furnishings include nothing more than a matress and a fan. It's absolutely fantastic. Just what I needed. I'm sitting at a table beneath my stilt house, writting in my journal, with a beer in hand (yes, I am breaking the no beer before biking rule, but I bloody well deserve it so LAY OF!!!), with a stunning view of the mountains before me. It's agreat change from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi. Perhaps there is hope for Vietnam after all.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Hanoi-Hoa Binh

Total Distance:74.27km
Total Time:4h26m22s
Average Speed:16.7km/h
Maximum Speed:38.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:6270.23km

Comradery amoung cyclists, you gotta love it! I sprent four days wondering around Hanoi, trying to scrounge up what I needed for Fred. It was no easy task. Vietnamese bike shops are lacking in quality parts, to say the least. I managed to get a triple crank set. It took some time and some work, but I got it done. The most difficult thing to find was tubes. You would think it would be the easiest, but it wasn't. I didn't manage to find any. Fred's front gears weren't shifting properly, which only started happening once I let a Vietnamese bike tech. mess around with him, so I was a little hesitant to take him to any bike shops in Hanoi. It was starting to look like I would have to take a bus to Laos! As luck would have it, when I was walking around, in the depths of despair, ready to cave in to the backpacker express, a small miracle happened. I happened to run across three cyclists from Holland just ending a tour through China. My three heros. They fixed my bike, loaded me up with spares parts, even took me out to dinner. I can't stress enough how greatful I am to have met them. They saved me the heartache of having to get on a bus... Thanks guys!
I ended up spending five days in Hanoi. It was a little longer than I had anticipated. Hanoi was yet another big city. Far more crime than the others I've visited. I was pick pocketed within five minutes of stepping out of my hotel. Luckily I noticed in time to chase the guy down and get my wallet back. Someone stole the pump I had strapped to the side of my bike. It was my own stupid fault. I should have taken it off. I guess I just didn't think about it. Other than that Hanoi was not all that bad. I had a chance to take in some sights between bike part searching, met some good people, and loaded up on crappy western-style food.
Todays ride was the shortest I've had since... Thailand I think. I got started at a half decent time, leaving around 7:30. Traffic, as I'm sure you can imagine, was insane. It took me a good hour to get out of the city limits, which wasn't that far of a distance. Hence the low average speed. I haven't been feeling great the past few days. I'll spare you the details. Lets just say things are staying down, but not in. God bless whoever invented Imodium. Still, cycling with a winky stomache is never pleasant.
So, now I'm in Hoa Binh. I figure it should take me a day or two (probably two) to get to Laos. I'm more than ready to move on. Vietnam has been an experience, although I'm not sure that I would say it was a great one. TIme for a new chapter in the Adventures of Gred the Bike!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ninh Binh-Hanoi

Total Distance:94.47km
Total Time:4h55m19s
Average Speed:19.2km/h
Maximum Speed:31.5km/h
Total Distance So Far:6195.96km

After pulling such long days recently, with the exception of the last one to Ninh Binh, todays ride was a breeze. I got a late start, leaving at 8:00am, which was great for a change. The ride took a little less than 5 hours, putting me in the capital of Vietnam just on time for lunch. It was a good day for biking. No rain, but it was a little cloudy, so it wasn't scortching hot either. I took the elevated freeway which, as it turns out I wasn't supposed to. After riding it for about a half hour some dude on a motorbike informed me that there were no bicycles allowed. I figured until someone official told me to get off I would continue on my path. It was actually really great. The shoulder was nice and big, there were two lanes for cars, and there were no dirt bag kids following me aroumd trying to annoy me to death. I really think it was the nicest road I ridden down in SE Asia so far.
Fred is not doing to well. I'm actually pretty impressed that he made it throught the day. His tires are looking as bald as Homer Simpson. One of them has a slow leak, and as I'm out of spare tubes, I have to stop to pump it up every couple of hours. Only two of his gears are functioning properly, and they're low gears. It's not that bad. I can still maintain about 20km/h, but it means a lot of pedaling. I'm glad I opted to come straight to Hanoi instead of making a pit stop in Halong Bay. I think I'm more likely to find a bike shop here.
Hanoi is your typical big city. Everything is geared towards tourists and really overpriced. It's a busy place. Traffic is bad, but not as insane as Saigon. After checking into a hotel I decided to take a walk around and explore. Within ten minutes I got pick-pocketed. Not to worry. I realized it soon enough to chase the guy down and get my wallet back. I was a little surprised in myself for having the balls to do it. I think I've just reached a point where I'm not taking any more crap from the people here.
I can't really tell you the agenda for my up coming days. If I can get Fred fixed up soon, I might still take a trip out to Halong Bay. It's supposed to be quite beautiful. If it takes me a while to hunt down a decent bike shop though, I'll be heading straight to Laos. If I can't find one at all, I'll be taking the bus there.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thanh Hoa-Ninh Binh

Total Distance:63.15km
Total Time:3h37m54s
Average Speed:17.4km/h
Maximum Speed:34.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:6101.49

Rain, rain go away... I'm starting to really hate the rain. Actyally, I started to really hate the rain a couple of days ago. Now I really hate the rain. Other than that, not a lot to report. Just traffic and rain. At least the days trip was a short one, which was a nice change. I hit Ninh Binh by mid day and, by 1:00, was set up in my hotel. Now I can kick back and relax for a couple of days. The only down side is it's still raining and all the activities to do here are outdoors ones. I may just spend a couple of days kickin' around doing nothing.
Well I made it. Not in the time frame I thought, but pretty damn close. Next stop, either Halong Bay or Hanoi. I haven't decided yet.

Vinh-Thanh Hoa

Total Distance:152.84km
Total Time:8h09m20s
Average Speed:18.7km/h
Maximum Speed:33.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:6038.34km

One more night on desolation row. By this point I was a little starved for conversation. I had no books to read, and I couldn't even find a computer to talk to you guys. I was a little disappointed that I had to stop in Thanh Hoa. Not only is there nothing to do there, but I honestly did think I could make it to Nonh Binh. It turned out to be a little further thatn I had originally thought. It pored with rain the whole day. Traffic was absolutely insane, and by the time I got to Thanh Hoa I only had about an hour of daylight left. The previous night I had sucked it up and done the last hour in the dark. Riding down those Vietnamese highways at night isn't very much fun. Not only do they drive like total psychos, but they all keep there high beams on, which can cause a poor cycling farang to go blind. I didn't want to repeat that misery, so I opted to stay the night and reach Ninh Binh in the morning.
I actually met a nice person today. Possibly the only one in this entire country. She invited me into her shop to have tea with her and her husband and, get this, expected NOTHING in return. Amazing! Maybe there's hope after all. It couldn't have come at a better time. I had just passed two turnoffs for the Laos border, which I was seriously thinking of taking. It's starting to get to me. The constant rudeness. The animalistic come on's from men. The children who act like wild dogs. It was good to finally have a pleasant experience. I know it seems like I'm being harsh, but come here and you'll see. It's true.
The rain is staring to get to me too. It just isn't letting up. I end each day looking, and feeling like a drowned rat. At first I found it refreshing, but that has come to an end. I'm ready for it to stop.

Dong Hoi-Vinh

Total Distance:199.88km
Total Time:10h28m28s
Average Speed:19.0km/h
Maximum Speed:49.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:5885.50km

0.22km shy of 200km, and 14.5km shy of breaking 6000km for the whole trip. Dang! If I wasn't so tired when I got to Vinh, I would have just riden around for a while and broken a couple of records. However I was tired. Drop dead tired. It was a long, long day. I didn't sleep well the previous evening. As it turns out, Karaoke is the number one pass time amoung the citizens of Dong Hoi. The streets are lined with Karaoke Bars. Every cafe and hotel, including the one I was staying in, is equiped with it's own machine. Not only is it very loud, coming at you from every direction, and anight long event, but it's also very poorly performed. I know I'm not one to talk. Every time I try my hand at karaoke, I get booed off the stage. At least I can point my finger at the fact that every time I try my hand at karaoke, I'm drunk. These guys just sit around drinking coffee all night. At least they're having fun.
The ride to Vinh was not only long, but very boring. This has got to be the most boring part of Vietnam. Between Saigon and Vinh, traffic wasn't too bad. However it started to pick up just before I got to Vinh and, I imagine, it's destined to continue until I reach Hanoi. Vinh is a strange place. I know I say that a lot, but Vietnam is full of strange places. I taken to singing "People Are Strange" as I ride my bike. The people there really creeped me out. I guess I didn't stay directly in Vinh. I opted for a hotel right on the edge of the city so I would be close tp the highway the next morning. Maybe there was a higher sense of normality in the city center.
I attempted to find something to eat, which was not that easy. First I went to this restaurant and attempted to order some chicken and rice. As I was sitting at my table I was suddenly surrounded by about fifteen people, just standing there gawking at me. This happens quite a bit here, but this time made me feel particularily uncomfortable. In the end I packed it in and split before the food showd up. When I was leaving my hotel earlier I noticed a little place to eat across the street. It looked a little shadey, but I was hungry so I thought what the hell. I went in and attempted to order a Coke. As it turns out, they only had two options in the drink department... Beer or Red Bull. I have a strict "NO BEER BEFORE BIKING" policy, so I opted for the Red Bull. I didn't recognize any of the dishes on the menu, and the people there didn't speak english. I decided to take a chance and point to something with the word "ga" in it, as I know ga means chicken in Vietnamese. Yep, it was chicken feet. Toe nails and all. I found the toe nails a little disturbing. I was really hungry though, plus "when in Rome...", so I ate it. It actually wasn't that bad. They fry them up in this really great sauce, sort of like chicken wings you would get in a local pub. Those chicken feet don't have a lot of meat on them though, and I left still a little hungry.

Hue-Dong Hoi

Total Distance:166.59km
Total Time:7h57m40s
Average Speed:20.9km/h
Maximum Speed:49.5km/h
Total Distance So Far:5685.62km

Well folks, it's been a long past few days. I haven't had access to a computer, so you have a lot to read. I also haven't had anyone to speak english to, so excuse me if I don't make much sense. I set out to do the impossible, or at least unlikely. Ride over 600km in three days. In case you're are wondering, it's not possible. At least not for me. I guess given different circumstances it may have been. But I'm jumping ahead of myself. Let's start at the beginning, shall we. The ride from Hue to Dong Hoi was okay. Nothing really that spectacular. I did pass the DMZ, which is where Vietnam technically is divided between North and South. It's a big tourist attraction amoung history buffs, which I'm not. None the less, at least I can say I have been there. Even if I was just biking through.
I stopped at the oddest place for lunch. It was run by these three women. Strange, strange women. When I pulled up the three of them were sitting there reading Lonely Planet's Guide to Vietnam. The really strange thing is it was in English, which not one of them could speak a word of. It's almost as if they were waiting for me. The menu was in English too. I also found this to be a little strange, convenient but strange. This place was sort of in the middle of nowhere, and I'm sure I was only the second Westerner to ever grace it's presence. The first being whoever left the book.
Other than that, not a lot to tell. It rained again. I'm getting a little sick of the rain. The Vietnamese aren't getting any nicer. They remain to try and rip me off. I guess I'll just have to get used to it. At least there was no mountains on this part of the journey.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Hoi An-Hue

Total Distance:135.31km
Total Time:8h37m07s
Average Speed:15.7km/h
Maximum Speed:48.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:5519.03km

I'm slowly learning that just because you think something should be, it doesn't always mean it is. For example, you would think that when I left Hoi An this morning and everyone working at the hotel asked me where I was going, after telling them they would have warned me that there are two roads that run between Hoi An and Denang, one of which the wind is only moderate while the other is one long wind tunnel. You would also think they would have told me about the giant mountain that I would have to cross just outside of Denang. You would think they would then tell me that you don't actually have to go over the mountain, as there is an alternate route with a tunnel that passes through the mountain. You might even think they would mention the severe decline in temperature as you draw nearer to the top. You would think that the American guy in his rented pickup truck, who could clearly see me struggling to get up the mountain would, instead of merely stopping to take a photo of me huffing and puffing my way along, offer me a lift. You would think, as it would be completely logical to think, that all these things would be so. In fact they are not and, as a result, my day ended up a hell of a lot more difficult than it had to be.
I did, in fact, unknowingly take the hard way from Hoi An to Denang. After passing through Denang I did encounter an enormous mountain. I did discover, only after arriving in Hue exhausted from the days events, that there is indeed an alternate route which includes a tunnel as a means of bypassing the mountain pass. With second I drew closer to the summit, I did freeze my arse off more and more. I did watch as the ignorant American took a photo of my struggle, commenting to his girlfriend as to how that would be one for the scrapbook. And so, I'm slowly learning that just because you think something should be, it doesn't always mean it is.
There were some up sides to todays events though. As a result I got a pretty nice view of China Beach, which stretches almost all the way from Hoi An to Denang. The mountain pass, difficult though it was, was actually quite breath taking. Once at the top I got a chance to see a bunker left over from the American War, which was pretty cool. Although I wasn't offered a lift up, I did receive a certain sense of accomplishment once I completed climbing the mountain. So, it wasn't all bad.
Hoi An was great. I got a chance to catch up to some friends who I thought I would have long missed. I got some clothes tailored. I would have liked to get more, but it wasn't within the budget of time frame. I have never had clothes tailored before and, I must say, I like it. They fit perfectly. Even though I only had some simple things made, a pair of pants and a couple of shirt, they may just be the best cothes I've ever owned. They fit like a glove, they're exactly the style I wanted, and the colrs suit me perfectly. I was going to spend one more day there, but left in fear that I wouldn't be able to controll my shopping addiction. Hoi An isn't a cheap town by any means, but if you're looking for a place to treat yourself, it's a good one. The food is great, the fashion is abundant, and the town itself has a pretty relaxing vibe.
Although I did extend my visa I'm still under a bit of a time crunch. This means more long, hard cycling days. No more 90km jaunts. I'm in Hue now, having opted to skip a nights stay in Denang. It didn't seem like there was a whole lot to do there anyway, aside from the Museum Of Cham Sculptures. It would have been nice to see, but not worth a day that could be better spent doning something, or various things, more worth the time. After Hue it's off to the North, then Laos. Still no word on a good bike shop to get Fred all fixed up. I seem to have pretty good luck with these sorts of things though, so I'm not too worried about it.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Quang Ngai-Hoi An

Total Distance:118.93km
Total Time:6h12m50s
Average Speed:19.1km/h
Maximum Speed:32.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:5383.72km

After four days of straight cycling I've finally made it to Hoi An, the tailoring capital of the world. Hoi An is a beautiful town. It's set on a river, lined with old buildings and about a million different places to get clothes made. It seems really laid back and gives off a relaxed vibe. I really quite like it here. The only downside is accomodations don't come cheap here. The hotels are all great. They're clean, come with hot water and AC, and offer great guest services. While these things are fine and dandy, I really rather would pay less and get less. I guess its nice to treat yourself once and a while though. One very odd thing about Hoi An is the bars. They all offer free rum and coke durring happy hour. There's no cover, no catch, which for Vietnam is a little alarming. There's always a catch here. The food is great. I'd go as far as to say it's the best as of yet on my journey through Vietnam. While western food is still here, they seem to focus more on educating ignorant westerners in Vietnamese culinary specialties. It's nice for a change. Usually in the touristy places you have to struggle to find good authentic Vietnamese food.
I have to get my Visa extended, which means at least a couple of days here. There are definitely worse places to be. After that, I'm headed to Denang. It's only a short 35 or 40km away. It will be nice to actually arrive in a place early. The weather is getting hot again. While the rain provided a nice break, I'm sort of glad it's over. It can't rain all the time. The hills and wind seem to have come to a stop, for now at least. Although I'm sure having stated this, my next trip will probably be up a mountain against the wind.
That's all for now. I'll keep you posted.

Quy Nhon-Quang Ngai

Total Distance:180.45km
Total Time:9h32m11s
Average Speed:18.9km/h
Maximum Speed:48.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:5264.79km

Well, it was another long and gruelling day on the cycling circuit. It's been a while since I pulled off a big day like that. It actually felt pretty good. The weather remains a little cloudy and rainy, which actually helps. It's nice not having to bike through the heat. The day didn't get off to the best of starts. I woke up to discover I had a flat tire. I fixed it, the entire time cursing. It's not really the kind of thing one wants to wake up to. Even though I was already off to alate start, I opted to stop for breakfast. I've finally learned hoe to order bread and eggs... "bahn mi op la". It took a little longer than usual. Another set back to the days start. Then, of course, I got lost trying to find my way back to the highway. Eventually I did get out of there.
The ride went pretty much without flaw. Although I'm finding the people of Vietnam are getting stranger as I head north. There was one town in particular which gave off a really creepy vibe. I wish I could remember it's name, as to warn you against stopping there, but unfortunately I can not. As I was approaching I suddenly got a eerie feeling. Being the brilliant mind that I am I opted to stop for a drink there. The people were so strange. They all gathered around me, just standing there looking at me. It's pretty normal for that to happen, but this time felt different. I was getting a pretty bad feeling. Needless to say, I downed my drink and high-tailed it out of there. One thing I found especially odd was the abundance of hotels there. There is nothing really to stop and see, and I don't understand why there were so many places to stay. All of them giving off a strong Bates Motel vibe.
The rest of the ride was good. Traffic remains not too bad. Although, the Vietnamese have an annoying habbit of honking their horns for no particular reason. I think I'm starting to go a little deaf. Other than that I have no real complaints. I'm still enjoying myself, and have no intention of quitting just yet.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tuy Hoa-Quy Nhon

Total Distance:97.94km
Total Time:6h04m02s
Average Speed:16.1km/h
Maximum Speed:47.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:5084.34km

Todays ride was pretty similar to yesterdays. It's a little frusterating because these stops are a little to close together for my liking, yet too far apart to do two in one day. However I want to be sure that I can find accomodations, and in these places I'm almost certain. Oh well. I guess it's nice to take your time and experience the country side. I'm still undecided about the highlands. I'll make up my mind tonight. It's looking like a no-go though. I just don't think Fred is in good enough shape to do it. I guess the same can be said about me.
Quy Nhon is actually quite beatiful. It's right on the ocean, making for a pretty spectaclar view. Getting here was no easy task though. Again it rained this morning. Again I didn't really mind. There were a lot of hills today. More than yesterday. The wind was in my face all day, and it was strong. Still, I'm enjoying biking Vietnam. The country is so beautiful. There's is so much to look at. It's definitely worth putting up with the elements.
Two more days until I'm in Hoi An, unless I take the highland route. It should take me the same amount of time, but I think in the highlands I'm more likely to spend a couple more nights hanging out. We'll see. That seems to be my new moto... "We'll see".

Nha Trang-Tuy Hoa

Total Distance:126.26km
Total Time:7h44m47s
Average Speed:16.3km/h
Maximum Speed:43.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:4986.40km

The ride to Tuy Hoa had a little bit of everything. The ocean, the mountains, some hills, some wind, some more wind, rain, sunshine... a little bit of everything. The ride for the most part was pretty flat, except for a small portion of it where I had to climb over a couple of mountains. They were only the outer most part of the highlands though, so compared to the journey to Delat it was nothing. In the morning it rained a little. It was nice. You have to bare in mind that when it rains here it's not like at home. The weather remains warm, and it makes for a nice break from the heat. You do, however, end up wet and muddy. However when I'm cycling I'm not a picture of cleanliness anyway. The wind was terrible. You guys know how I feel about the wind.
Tuy Hoa is actually a fair size city. There is a lot of hotels there, and they're all on the same street. It was nice because it was easy to play them against eachother and get a good price. I was pretty tired by the time I arrived, so I didn't really do much. Just ate my noodles and went to bed.
It's a long haul to Hoi An. Including today I figure it's going to take me three or four days to get there. The next few destinations after that though are pretty close together. I'm still debating whether or not I should attempt to go back into the highlands. It would be a nicer route to Hoi An, but I don't know if Fred and I can make it. My heart says yes, but my head says no. I have to decide before I leave Quy Nhon, which is in one more day, as that's my last chance to turn off into the mountains. I'll keep you posted.