The mountains sucked!! There were the ups and the downs that you expect from the mountains but none of the scenery. I went into the mountains for the challenge of the climbs and the beautiful scenery, but although I worked hard climbing, there was no reward – just barren, dry, hot landscape.
Over 5 days of cycling through it, I took about 3 photos. It was so boring and monotonous. Memories I wouldn’t want to keep. It really made me wonder what the hell am I doing here.
And I felt sick at the end of each day. I barely moved but when I did it was like a decrepit old man. I lay in bed watching HBO and feeling heavy and weak.
I think it was prolonged dehydration. The skin on my arms was bubbling, and the top of my head was raw. My mouth was dry a lot and I kept needing to grab my Chapstick because my lower lip was cracking.
The food really got to me. My meals were consistently rice and meat, or pho. There are no other options it seems outside the big cities in Vietnam. Hot meals in a hot climate. I finally cracked.
After eating pho for lunch, I ate the same for dinner. My stomach was already feeling twisted, but as I ate the rice noodles, I had a strong urge to vomit. I slowed down and took deep breaths to stave off what could have been incredibly embarrassing and insulting as I was sitting in a family-run food stall that served me past their closing time.
The next day I decided to only eat oranges, mangoes, and some cookies – no rice anymore! The entire day just fruit – I was essentially running on water. There were some knots in my stomach sometimes, but for most of the day I was able to trick my body. But it turned out to be more of an intense biking day than I had planned.
It was the final leg of my Escape from the Mountains. I got to my destination, a biggish city, after 65 miles, but I realized that the food options there were the same as everywhere else. Nha Trang, a major tourist stop, would have lots of Western food choices. There’s a KFC in Nha Trang (no McDonald’s anywhere in Vietnam).
I decided to push on the extra 20 miles to Nha Trang, and it was late in the day – and remember all I had to eat was fruit. I made it to the outskirts of the city by sundown and I stopped to look at the map. As I stood over my bike, I suddenly felt faint. Blood rushing away from my head, feeling a cold sweat. I cautiously sat down on the curb to regain my composure. I realized I’d mistreated my body, but I couldn’t stop there. KFC awaited.
So not too long after, I made it to the tourist section of the city, checked myself into a hotel, and found lots of Western food options. When I saw there was a Texas BBQ place I had to go. I got my favorite: a pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw on top. It tasted very different than rice. It tasted like Freedom.