To Hue,6th March 16.

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To Hue, over Hai Van pass.

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Hai Van Pass. Great road.

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Great views, except for cloud. At least it’s cool.

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Salangane’s home. All for bird’s nest soup. Yuk.

Top marks to Orange Hotel.  Only a 3 star but really nice little touches, like, astonishingly, complimentary beers.  Wow.  Really comfy bed, always appreciated and the most attentive, friendly and helpful staff ever.    We were recommended a great local Thai restaurant and to hang out downtown to see the dragon bridge breathe fire.  Danang is an interesting town, definitely on the up with its smart riverfront and lots of coffee shops.

Headed for the Hai Van pass.  A 10 km, 500 m climb up and 10 km down.  We had anticipated it to be harder based on reviews we had read.  It does give the most glorious views of the coastline below as you wind your way up the beautifully noiseless road.  Cars and buses take the tunnel, thank goodness.  As we slowly pedalled up we sort of expected the smell of wild thyme or mint? Pine trees? Maybe exotic lemongrass? No. The all pervasive smell from the common pastime of peeing on the side of the road. Took the edge off it. Probably better after a good rainstorm.

A great route, down the hill and off the awful Highway 1 onto the coastal road, skirting around the lagoons and peninsular of land.  Quiet and lovely.  And, more and more tombs in the sand.  They go on forever.  There are more dead than alive here. And they take up so much space.

Finally, we understand about the loud bird calls from the concrete buildings.  There is fierce competition to attract the salanganes,  a local swift-like bird that builds its nest from saliva.  The nests command $1,000 per kilo.  Historically, the nests are collected from the steep sides of the islands off-shore, accessed from bamboo scaffolding towers.  Hazardous.  A young Vietnamese graduate having studied the birds, came up with the design of the concrete house.  It has been hugely successful and without any current legislation, it appears that residents in town are attaching towers to their homes then turning up the volume for the bird calls.  Very lucrative.

Have to say that the approach to Hue was disappointing.  Had anticipated another Hoi An, which is delightful.  maps.me and Paul’s dexterity manipulating his phone whilst cycling took us to the door of The Serene Shining Hotel after our last full day of cycling on this trip. Feel quite sad.

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