Published: February 3rd 2013January 27th 2013 Hué (Vietnam) to Banlung (Cambodia): 17th - 27th Jan 2013 Distance covered so far (since 20 Dec): 2591.60 km
Enroute to Hoi An
Just past the peak of a sizable climb... we felt like gladiators because the tour groups taking photos at this spot inflated our egos with over-generous compliments about our machoness!
(.... what is this the same as... go on... what do you think? have a look at our stats at the bottom of the page!)
Following Mel's short-lived attempt at cutting Andy's hair with nail scissors, we headed out of Hué. Aware that our proposed route was marked on the map as the "Road without joy" (see photos), we were keen to knuckle down and do it quickly. What followed was some fairly hard-core cycling (to us, anyway.) We discovered that our map is useless - it has been the compass that we have used for navigation in an effort to remain off this main highway. Many roads marked on our map seem to have been put there as an elaborate practical joke to send cyclists to dead-ends in the jungle.
Surprisingly, we ended up lost. Lots of the time. The roads on our map would get smaller, and smaller, and smaller. Eventually, knee deep in water, in the middle of a forest, we would agree that perhaps this particular road had yet to be built. Even though this
Vietnam Central Highlands
A very pretty bit of Vietnam. Doesn't the bike look pretty too.
might be a wasted 30km, it was time for us to turn around, and head back to Highway 1 (i.e. The "Road without Joy".)
Ultimately, we found ourselves on some lovely and quiet roads which took us away from the coast, and up into The Central Highlands of Vietnam (v. v. humid and jungly). At this stage, we knew exactly where we were, but discovered these roads don't receive many visitors. Some rather dubious camping followed over a number of successive nights, (including one where an ant colony made its home on Mel's bike overnight, and another where dusk fell, and we had to camp on the only piece of flat land which was literally by the side of the road.) Whilst this might sound unpleasant, our cheeriness remained, thanks to our ability to work wonders with tinned mackerel and peanuts (a classic combo). We were also kept in excellent company throughout the nights by our many crawly friends from the jungle.
Descending out of the highlands the landscape changed and we followed the Ho Chi Minh highway south, until turning towards the Cambodian plains, and facing a sudden change in scenery. Following the "Day of One Thousand
MAP OF ROUTE - Stage 4
Hué to Hoi An (146km!) Then campsite in bog to campsite on roadside. Then Pleikan to Kontum to Duc Co to Banlung.
Punctures", where Mel struggled to keep her bike disciplined, we arrived in Banlung. Cambodia, it turns out, is rather warm. So we stopped for a swim in a lake, for a day. We also disgusted numerous Cambodian restaurant owners by eating two main meals each, at each mealtime (and increasing the number of mealtimes from the usual four, to a perhaps excessive, five.) Since we seem to have been working rather hard on the bikes for about 8 hours a day we have been getting increasingly peckish. Key Stats:
Distance covered in this stage: 711.71 km
Distance covered so far (since 20 Dec): 2591.60 km (Yes! That is the same as cycling from Inverness to Budapest)
Total Hours in saddle (since 20 Dec): 152 hours and 30 minutes (incidentally just longer than DJ Hertz's current world record for the longest ever DJ set... that is until Smokin Joe Mekhael has a crack at winning back the title.)
Cumulative Mechanicals: Sheared Pannier Rack x1 (Mel), Snapped Bike Chain x2 (Andy), Puncture x2 (Andy), Puncture x 7 (Mel), Snapped Water Bottle Cages x2 (Andy)
Number of teenager tourists with ridiculous facial hair: Too many - we
The Road without Joy
After some time on Highway 1, we turned off it onto some of the minor roads, marked on our map. It transpired that many of these roads did not exist much beyond the map...
are baffled why you would want to be hairy (whispy, not bushy) in such a hot climate.
There are more photos below