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Published: November 28th 2012
The art of bungee
We did spend quite some time figuring out how to fasten our backpacks securely
Armed with bungee chords, we packed our bags onto our newly acquired (though far from new) motorcycles (an hour-long endeavour) and got heavily dressed in the sweltering heat, in order to both not get sunburned and be decently protected on the road.
Joe, our saviour, guided us through Da Nang (and its huge roundabouts and heavy traffic) and got us onto the mountain road that would take us to our first stop, Prau. We knew we had about 40 km left and about 2 and a half hours before night would fall, but nothing prepared us for the road ahead. Beautiful views, winding hair-pin turns, and endless climbs and descents. However, what this translated into for us was a very sharp learning curve. Learning our bikes (and how to ride them), and trying to find the delicate balance between driving fast enough in order not to overheat our tired motors, and driving slowly enough in order to neither fall off the edge of a cliff or shake any parts of the bikes lose on the endless and sudden bits of rock-filled pothole stretches. Darkness began to fall, and with no signposts, no kilometer counter and no speedometer (and no one
around to understand either distance or our map, as we have established these things to be quite a foreign concept here), a healthy dose of fear sank in.
Our headlights are useless unless we are in high revs, but really, when the road is full of craters and you can't see more than two feet in front of you, the last thing you want to do is go faster. And just before I (Sadie) was about to start crying in my helmet, we were in Prau. We stopped by the first man we saw and tried to get diretions to the town's guest house, but instead he hopped on his bike and escorted us there. We were immediately taken in and asked to sit with the family and offered beer and cigarettes. And then, our bags still in the middle of the living room and our clothes sticking to our bodies with a good mix of dirt and sweat, our guide for the evening drove us both on the back of his bike over some more potholes to the only place to eat in town.
Here we began to practice what Joe would have called "you're a white
person, you can get away with murder". We walked straight into the kitchen and chose our food, asked for strange combinations (and absurd portions) of food, and had incomprehensible conversations with the locals. After that, even our friendly toothless guide said we needed to shower and get to bed. At around 5am, we were awoken by the loudspeakers of communism calling to morning exercise, and were ready for our next leg.
After a quick repair on Sadie's bike, we left the sleepy, dusty mountain town of Prau, with its friendly, non-English-speaking-people, its one dirt road and two stores, and its one restaurant. Not much to see or do, but as far as we were concerned, possibly one of the most charming places we'd been so far.
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