Bike tour stage 4: Mostly lost

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January 27th 2013
Published: February 3rd 2013
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Enroute to Hoi AnEnroute to Hoi AnEnroute 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!
Hué (Vietnam) to Banlung (Cambodia): 17th - 27th Jan 2013

Distance covered so far (since 20 Dec): 2591.60 km (.... 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 HighlandsVietnam Central HighlandsVietnam 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 4MAP OF ROUTE - Stage 4MAP 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 JoyThe Road without JoyThe 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.

Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17


Smaller roadsSmaller roads
Smaller roads

The road we followed got smaller, and smaller and smaller...
Campsite in Central HighlandsCampsite in Central Highlands
Campsite in Central Highlands

Little did we realise, but between the time of this photo and the next morning, Mel's bike would be colonised by thousands of ants.

Noodles (yum yum) with fresh veg (yum yum) and fragrant herbs (yum yum), with big slabs of pork fat (hmmm...)

Andy reinforces his reputation for being a pig... The owner of this street stall was surprised when he ordered 15 of these amazing pancakes (Banh Xeo - very tasty!)

Andy finds a duckling.
Loaded bikesLoaded bikes
Loaded bikes

We feel slightly emasculated when our bike loads are compaed alongside people doing their normal business. This chap has feather dusters. Plenty of them.
Cycling rural VietnamCycling rural Vietnam
Cycling rural Vietnam

Whilst this photo implies it, Mel didn't continue on the same line and crash into the old lady.
Hoi AnHoi An
Hoi An

A lovely town, but rather touristy...
Hoi AnHoi An
Hoi An

The Japanese bridge in Hoi An.
The Ho Chi Minh 'Roller Coaster'The Ho Chi Minh 'Roller Coaster'
The Ho Chi Minh 'Roller Coaster'

Long downhills, and then all the way back up again. Over and over again.
We like coconutsWe like coconuts
We like coconuts

A great treat after a long hard and dusty cycle!
Beers with the boysBeers with the boys
Beers with the boys

Rather boozy, but very hospitable, we got dragged into this little party. A curious meal was offered, which we subsequently discovered was tortoise!
Mel at Cambodia - Vietnam borderMel at Cambodia - Vietnam border
Mel at Cambodia - Vietnam border

Border guards love having their photos taken!

3rd February 2013

How many pancakes?
Sounds very like the (very un PC) story of Little Black Sambo who ate 169 pancakes, because he was so hungry. But yours probably weren't made out of Tiger Ghee.
3rd February 2013

Well done
What a journey, am awfully impressed. Slightly intrigued about how on earth you can break one bottle holder on your bike, let alone two though. Keep going! Lucy xx
4th February 2013

Banlung to Bandung!
Hey guys - glad you're safely in Cambodia. Would love to see pics of Angkor Wat when you've been. Also Andy, I think we should all see a picture of your new haircut (not done by Mel). You'll have to calculate how many miles from Banlung to Bandung! Lots of love xx
5th February 2013

world record cycling endurance test
we think you are both amazing - how will you cap this journey when its your golden wedding! a zimmer frame trek across america? take care xx
8th February 2013

bicycles, bicycles
Don't you love them? I don't think I could ever manage what you have, but I admire you greatly! Reading with interest!

Tot: 0.429s; Tpl: 0.023s; cc: 14; qc: 73; dbt: 0.0193s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 3; ; mem: 1.4mb