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Published: July 22nd 2005
Russian Dirt Bike
1000 km through north Vietnam, the "red croacker" is up for the task.
For 6 days and around a 1000km I had the most memorable time of my trip so far. Since no one I'd been travelling with was keen to go kayaking in Halong Bay I rented a Russian motorcycle in Hanoi alone two and a half days behind a crew of five. The bike was a temperamental beast it ran pretty well until 40km outside of returning the bike when it completely took a crapper. Riding the bike through this type of country was easily the most disconnected I've felt from the travel scene since I've been in Asia. For the first 600 km I didn't see another person who wasn't a local. I might of had a taste of dog the first night though, I stopped at an out of the way town, my accommodation was a tribe longhouse and a fixed dinner. Didn't taste like pork, beef or yes even chicken. Since the room was so open you needed a mosquito net for more than mosquitoes, a GIANT grasshopper spent the night trying to get inside.
North Vietnam climbed steadily in elevation as the roads decreased in quality and width. Quite cool and green I was reminded more of
Hills to come
After getting my first rain of 25 minutes, the fields seemed to brighten up.
parts of Alaska than Asia. I was keen on catching the five who left before me though so I put in two long days of 10 hours before my bike started giving me trouble on the second day. It rained so hard I had to stand up on my bike to prevent a 'lap pond' from getting too big. I was 15 km outside the last town when I had to turn around, I'd been passing hill tribe people for quite a while, they always smile and wave, in a bad mood I passed 25 or so that lined the road and showered me with smiles that put me back on the right frame of mind. I coasted into town and stopped in front of a house that looked 'kinda but not really' like it could be a guest house. Using a phrase book they said yes and showed me to their older son's room covered in photographs I spent too much time looking at. The pictures in the room told me that I wasn't at a guest house though so I tried to say sorry and leave when the made me sit down for tea, as a guest. The
The high country
Cultivated land could be seen on any grade, the most remote patches of land would be used for farming.
brother took to taking apart my bike, it seems the bike got some water in the beat up tank from the rain. I was made to feel at home when the police came by and kicked my ass out before I knew what was happening, its illegal to stay in any ones home without prior permission. At least I got to spend the afternoon with such a warm family.
The next day was a long push to Sapa, the small city that serves as a tourist base for the north. The clouds and fog were rolling in and out that at times it reminded me of a whiteout on top of Eisenhower tunnel. The terraced rice patties were amazing, I kept my head on a swivel the entire day. Sure enough the first bar I checked that night I found my friends, they had arrived that morning after some difficulty. Of the five, two people had experience, they said that with a proper hand clutch it took them hours to get past the Hanoi traffic lights. After that Matt took his first of two falls, while Rich had his bike break down the next day after his back brake
For the first 600 km I didn't see another foreigner.
melted to his wheel. Dillon, a crazy Irish man decided it was his turn to wreck, for his crash they had to get the steel frame bent back into place. Jen, a Canadian and Ron an Indonesian Dutchman had to hold the show together.
The pace with them was less than intense, we took two days to finish the final 350 km.
One night left, we found what Jen described as the "Vietnamese Stanley" more than a little strange this immaculate little hotel with a man made pond with swan boats for romantic couples. The whole place was just a little too perfect considering we found it down this beat up dirt road miles from any town. It was Monday so of course we were the only ones there, dinner still took 2 hours to prepare. Biblical rains that night, I could hardly sleep I was so interested at the force of the lightning and rain. As the pic shows the storm was a little more than the average monsoon fall. After clearing past the hotel, all the mudslides covering the roads, we hit the first town to find the main intersection flooded out.
After that things went
One of dozens
After a rain, your eyespan would included at least one waterfall.
great until 40 km to go when the bike died, I asked everyone to go ahead because that part needed was hours away. I got under way again at 600 pm rolling into Hanoi in the dark. I stopped to ask a kid at the bus stop for directions, I was going his way, he jumped on the back and got me home. Nice kid, we looked a little different with the white guy in the front of a bike for a change.
Tot: 1.535s; Tpl: 0.055s; cc: 25; qc: 111; dbt: 0.0545s; 1; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.6mb