Published: April 2nd 2009April 2nd 2009
So....More about the pig...
We hadnt booked an alarm call so when (at 7.30am) we were ripped from our slumber by the sound of a screaming pig bigger than a family saloon being strapped to a pushbike for the trip to market directly outside our bedroom we were a little more than shocked.......
The vietnamese( like the cantonese) eat absolutely everything and livestock is just FOOD!!!There is a completely utilitarian attitude to the animals they eat and to western sensibilities this can seem incredibly cruel..Live pigs tied down to boards on the back of bikes..Dogs in cages with no room to turn around..Chickens and ducks three or four deep also caged on bikes..Even live fish transported on bikes..We had seen this while covering the miles to Tam Coc but the reality of witnessing the pig strapping process was not the best way to wake and greet the day...Still I guess we still felt better than the pig..
Many things about Vietnam are a shock to the system but for me the attitude to animals is probably the one I have most trouble reconciling..But considering I come from a culture where factory farming is the norm I dont think I'm in any
real position to criticise.....And its not stopping my craving for a bacon sandwich!
Took a sampan trip through the 3 grottoes of Tam Coc early to miss the rush...Incredibly beautiful, in fact far more impressive than Halong Bay...End of trip marred by the first example of really aggressive souvenir selling by Boatmans assistant.....Up till now a smile and polite "no thanks , or, Khong Cam On" has done the trick but this was a definite pain in the arse....
Back to hotel and into the gear and on the bike for a fairly short journey today to the Cuc Phuong National park, around 55KMS,...Lost again but after passing through a couple of small villages found ourselves on a windy, very remote road leading steeply up through the forest and finally arrived just in time for a visit to the Primate rescue centre where 4 species of indigenous primates are housed before being reintroduced to the wild. Fantastic!
Bungalow on the side of Mac Lake, a few kms more into the park, for the night...Middle of the jungle , literally miles from the nearest town but amazingly kept awake by a high school group staying in cabins around the lake
Just arrived at our lakeside bungalow for the night...Birds, Frogs and Crickets having a shindig...You cant hear yourself think!
with a ghetto blaster playing just one Viet hip hop song over and over again!!!!!!! I must be getting old!
Next morning was the start to our first really hard day...There was a light drizzle and after loading it up with rucksacks and saddlebags the bike wouldnt start!!!!! Luckily Rhianydd can crack walnuts with her biceps and she push started me on the flat...What a girl!....
We followed the only route shown on our map and after a full 1 hour saw a sign saying it was only 3 kms to where we had spent the night......Given that we had 275 odd kms to go today this wasnt exactly promising..
We picked up the Ho Chi Minh Highway again and headed south through some absolutely spectacular scenery,...virtually no other traffic..the bike was humming and things had dried up a bit...Heaven!
Thai Hoa via Ngoc Loc and then off the highway to Yen Ly cross country on an unfinished road of just sand and gravel...1st and 2nd gear for most of the way..My wrists felt as if they might break at any moment, After a short stop for coffee (at least thats what we asked for) served by a
Mac Lake bungalow
Here the shower didnt work so we ended up dowsing each other with bottles filled in the sink...Much more fun!
smashing young chap with a cockerel under his arm, a final stretch of blacktop led us into Vinh...274 KMS...Found a hotel called Kim Lien and ate in the restaurant...134 covers and we were the only ones in there....After a couple of beers we sat back, looked at each other glassy eyed and realised we were actually doing it...Just us, a ten year old bike and no back up, heading south in a country we dont know at all, with no real plan....
The day had been knackering but incredible....at one point a young couple on a "Honda Wave" road with us for about 20 kms just waving and laughing, pointing at our Mohawk helmets, buzzing past then dropping back before giving us a final wave and turning off to who knows where.......Everywhere people stopped in their tracks and waved and shouted "Hello, How are you?", always with the biggest smiles! I Love this Place!
Next day was another biggie....198 kms Vinh to Dong Hoi crossing the DMZ and some of Vietnams poorest states.....
At one point we stopped to take off waterproofs and ended up with a crowd of around 15 villagers around us, stroking our helmets (its
Pensive looking Langur
Stage 1 of the primate centre where primates are housed in small group enclosures..Stage 2 is an open area of jungle where they are re -acclimaitised to wild conditions and have to feed themselves..
just your filthy mind) and tapping our knee armour..One woman was trying ( jokingly we think) to get us to take her young son with us.....Mothers!!Dont they know the damage they do?
Checked into a place called the Khe Bang hotel on the waterfront after riding for a short stretch along a white, white, white, deserted beach. Dont even think about it!!!!!!!!We need to cover at least another 600kms before we allow ourselves to do the beach thing....
Next day Tue 31st Dong Hoi to Hue 146Kms..Like yesterday Highway 1 all the way but reasonably quiet and sane..Intention was to stay in Hue for a couple of days so after arriving in yet another downpour (its the dry season for christsake) we check into Hues most historic hotel The Morin, built in 1901, French colonial and beautiful, and about as good as it gets in Vietnam...We had read a few crap reviews but the hotel is fantastic..Room as big as a tennis court and all you could ask for...
Stopping now...Exhausted..More about adventures in Hue in a few days.......
Piccies to follow.
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