Today, after a bit of a late start, this made up for the sleep we had missed out on the night before, we hired a couple of bikes from our hotel. This was easier said than done as our hotel ‘manager’ (or possible oddjob man) we hired the bikes from did not really speak any English and our Vietnamese was still a simple ‘Thank You’ and even then our pronunciation could have been a little off for all we knew. For our ride Liz had already decided that she wanted to visit a farm where you could ‘kill your own chicken’ and then eat it! Now I am not so sure that in England the killing of a chicken for your own meal would be touted as being a tourist attraction but out here in Phong Nha it was and Liz was intrigued by it all and who was I to stop her. A lot of time people eat food without giving it a moment’s thought. I am sure some of the kids back home even believe that animals come pre-portioned and pre-packed as they see them in the supermarkets. It would be interesting to see if she could actually go the whole hog and kill her own chicken!
The ride to the chicken killing place we thought would take us about 10km out from the village centre so it would give us quite a nice test but our bikes were sturdy enough looking machines and the seats nice, big and comfortable. We started off by riding round to the other side of Phong Nha – which surprised me as I did not even realise the place had two halves – and this was on the other side of the river. As we cycled through this half of the village and in fact any of the small homesteads or the like along our route, little children would come out and wave and ‘hello’ us, those who knew a bit more English or were a bit more confident or older would add a ‘mister’ to follow, even to Liz – and we returned the greeting. This was really fantastic and made us, more than anything that had happened to us thus far, feel most welcome by the Vietnamese people. I suppose the moral is kids, are kids, are kids – no matter where they live and we broke out in the biggest grins as we pedalled along.
As we journeyed further out into the hilly countryside we kept seeing a rather intriguing sign for the ‘Pub with the Coldest Beer’, so after a good while cycling we decided we had earned just what this place was selling – so when we found it we were going to refresh ourselves like it was 1999! However, we still saw no signs of the place where you could kill your own chicken but a little further on we did find our pub. This was, like everything, off the beaten track and at the so-called pub the staff consisted of a young mother with her little lad who got on famously with Liz. They had a pool table there so we had a couple of games of pool with them as well as the cold beers, then a load of teens turned up. I then played five or six games on the trot where I beat all comers and every shot of mine was going in. We were all having a great laugh and they seemed amazed by my ‘skill’, though not quite as amazed as I was. As all good things it came to an end as one of them beat me – fluky bugger … lol. We rode away from the ‘pub’ and carried on through a small village but still no luck finding the place you could slaughter chickens, so we gave it up, somewhere out there a chicken had gained a reprieve and another day of life on the planet due to us being hopeless at finding our way about.
Along the way through the small village after the pub we did see signs for a Wild Boar farm, so we decided to go there instead as it ‘seemed’ easier to get to. Once again we tried to find this new objective but, once again to no avail, we even rode back past our ‘pub’ where the kids were waving at us like heroes but we had to carry on our quest. Well carry on we did, at least until the sky started to turn pitch black, so we decided the only course of action was to turn back as were by now quite a long way from Phong Nha.
On the way back past the rivers and small houses we saw more of a strange phenomenon of triangular haystacks that seemed to be just tagged onto buildings and some looked like they had even consumed part of the building they were next to. I had an idea to send home to my granddaughter photos of these weird haystacks that were eating the houses here – not sure she is as daft as Grandpa for making it up though!
We got back to our hotel and dropped the bikes off with their seats still imprinted on our behinds. We had had a great day so relaxed for a while at a pub and simply watched the world go by with a couple of beers and were quite impressed at the menu so after a bit of a sleep we came back out and had a meal at the same place which was not so great! We could not hang around too late though as we had to be up to catch our next bus at 4am to our next destination – Hue!
As we wandered back to our hotel I wondered if the young lads were still talking about the mysterious Englishman who rode in on a silver steed and beat them on their own pool table with shots only a man in league with the devil could perform, before riding off once again into the sunset ….. or maybe they were just having their noodles and had forgotten me ….. (lol).