One hour and a half away by speed boat from the coast of Quang Nai, in central Vietnam, Ly Son is one of the hidden gems of Vietnam. This small island, with barely 10 km2 of land and no more than 20,000 people is a land of beautiful coasts, hidden beaches, magic sunrises and sunsets and also a land of mystery. With small roads and little traffic, it is also a great place to explore by bicycle, to push the pedals gently along the sea or, for the ones who need a challenge, they can try the impossible slopes of Thien An mountain. If you have the energy to go early in the morning, it is one of the best spots to see the sunrise.
If you ride around you will have the chance to melt into the quiet pace of the island, see the fishermen at work in the harbor, maybe preparing for a month long trip to the Paracel Islands, see the farmers taking care of the onion and garlic crops, which are really special in Vietnam. Some kind of garlic with only one clove per bulb, has curative power according to Vietnamese traditional medicine and is paid as high as 50USD per kilo.
As you pedal along the coastal road, you will surely see a lot of pagodas. They’re buddhist pagodas, but some have their peculiarity, as Ly Son islanders have a special belief rather surprising: they worship whales. The Tan pagoda, for instance, hides two skeletons of huge whales that were stranded in the Ly son coast decades ago. Not far from there is the grave of the last whale that was stranded in their coast, two years ago. Ly Son people worship the whales as gods and whenever they find a dead one in the beach the whole island buries it and show their devotion. Fishermen believe that the whales help them when the sea becomes rough and many villagers tell legendary stories of whales who saved fishermen’s lives. After ten years, the whale remains will be unburied and taken to a pagoda for worship. If you feel tired during your ride in Ly Son, think that the whale will be there to help you.