Day 8-15

Editors Note:  Please note that these blogs were written at the end of each days ride and contain extraordinarily horrible grammar.  We aim to fix this up as time permits.  

DAY 8 

We awoke today with the view of further exploring Da Lat.  What a strange town.  A strange amazing town.  We fired up the hogs in the morning, a process which I don’t particulary enjoy.  Rwanda is always so feisty in the mornings, it takes a good 5 or 6 kick starts to finally get her engine running.  Pattni is always waiting for me on the side of the road with Ponymaine happily guzzling the fuel awaiting the days riding.  Nonetheless we got ourselves going and we were quickly awoken with the weaving and merging of the mornings local traffic.

We were heading just 4km’s out of the market centre to find some much talked about Waterfalls.  The first one we got to was actually man made.  Infact, we couldn’t really work out what it was used for and how it resembled a tourist attraction at all.  Yes it did look quite majestic but really it was either draining sewage or was just to drain excess water from a local river.  More entertaining was a herd of grazing cattle at the bottom that we had to walk past to and from the waterfall.  On the way back they were staring us down and the elder cows moved infront of the youngens to protect.  If it wasn’t for the fact a few of them had horns on there helmets, we wouldn’t have been so anxious.

 

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We drove another tick further down the road and THERE was the grand majestic waterfall.  In fact they’d turned the gushing fountain into a little theme park which included a roller coaster.  We trekked down a steep embankment and arrived at the waterfall, it was rather, erm, pretty? and water was flowing and enabled a few photo opportunities.  More fun was the short but quirky roller cart ride back up the hill.  We contemplated paying extra to do the complete circuit but we figured riding the hogs was just as exhilarating.

 

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Next up was the much acclaimed CRAZY HOUSE.  Built by the French way back when, the house was meant to be just as the name suggests, CRAZY.  Rite.  So we (Mo) navigated the windy roads that led to the crazy house and we finally arrived.  We rode up along side a bright red hog and parked.  A friendly local man came over after he saw us looking at the bike.  For the next 15 minutes we were talking about bikes and learning all sorts.  It was quite comical as Pattni and I stood there cockily like we’d been riding on 2 wheels since the beginning of time.  Anyways the guy was so proud of his bike he was just happy to talk to someone about it.

From the outside, Crazy House is just that.  A tad crazy.  It did however, give of an extreme sense of artificialness, which took away somewhat from the excitement.  The house was 3 or 4 stories tall and the windows had been almost cut out in random shapes as if a child was bored in pottery class.  Inside all the steps were winding and holes in the walls mimicked doors, plastic animals and spider webs lined the interior.  To be honest I didn’t really know what it was trying to be.  It was like a McDonalds playground for adults.

After this interesting visit we went in search of another waterfall.  We took a wrong turn and ended up riding a few KM’s into a local village.  There was an open field where a fire had been started to destroy rubbish.  I rode up close on my bike pretending I was a little of road adventurer.

We didn’t have much luck finding the waterfall after that so we decided to go grab some lunch.  We went to one of the many cafes that look over the market centre. We got ourselves some coffees, which tasted absolutely – well, as Pattni reacted,

“Foark! That’s got a serious hit.”

It felt great though, drinking coffee that was grown on the fields just over the road.

Now, todays eating was a bit, erm, unadventurous.  We knew we’d be heading back onto the open road tomorrow so we decided we’d pig out on Western food to get it out of our system.  For lunch we got nice fresh bread rolls with cheese and salads and a big bowl of French Fries.  The French Fries, were pure bliss.

After lunch we went back to the painting shop we’d visited yesterday, to interview the owner and artist for the documentary.  Unfortunately he wasn’t there so we just filmed around his store.  We spent the next hour or so walking around talking to locals.  We spent sometime chatting to an ‘Easy Rider’.  A group of locals setup a tour group known as the Easy Riders.  They take people out for the day and take them into villages and what not.  They’re actually really respectable and everyone tries to copycat them.  They’re quite famous around town and the ‘real’ Easy Riders don these awesome blue jackets.  He was quite impressed that we’d made it to Da Lat from Ho Chi Minh and wished us well with the rest of the trip.

We also met a young lady by the name of Linh, who had a wooden board full of cheap knick knacks.  I got a road map from her and she told us all about her life, growing up in Da Lat, moving to Saigon and then moving back home now that she was older.  We also met a man who worked in a coffee shop and he showed us how he prepares the coffee and his family were busy packaging tea leafs to be sold.

We headed back to our rooms for an hour or so before dinner and had a shower.  When we reappeared it was ice cold and all the lights of De Lat were on.  We still can’t get over how this hill town has so much going on.  We were expecting rural and instead the place has faster internet than back home.  It was our last night here and so we were in search of a feed that would leave our bellies heavy.  We went into a small cafe that was a confused mix between Italian, French and Vietnamese.  I got a Hamburger and Pattni a Pizza and in the middle another large bowl of Fries.  We also got a few cheeky cocktails and pretended we were dodgey out of town tour guides.  I was a former ‘Mr Dalat’ and Pattni was the tour guide could promise everyone amazing tours of ‘da fountainz’ for good good price.  Imagine Danny Archer accents mixed with Godfather characters.  It made for an interesting dinner nonetheless.

 

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DAY 9 

Another day of open roads and unknown surprises.  It’s day 8 and and in the early hours of the morning we were awoken by a loud bang in the lobby on the floor of our rooms.  This filled much of the early morning banter, it reminded us of the AK47’s we’d fired a few a days earlier.

We checked out of the hotel in Da Lat and I’d noticed my ever trusty hat was missing.  We quickly walked over to the restaurant we’d dined at the previous night and lo and behold they’d kept it behind the counter for me.  A perfect start to the day!

We rigged up our bikes, got final directions and thanked our hosts for the rooms.  We were leaving Da Lat and planned to head further into the Central Highlands.  We wanted to connect onto the Ho Chi Minh highway but to do that we had to travel further North and connect with a major city called Buon Ma Thuot.  Getting out of Da Lat proved more difficult than first expected.  We headed in the direction we thought was the right way but ended up heading towards the waterfalls we’d visited yesterday.  We rescoped our maps and found a major road that’d cut the travel distance in half.  We headed back into De Lat however each time we asked a local which way to go they’d point back to the direction we’d just came.  Throwing all logic out the way we decided to go against the locals instructions and tried to find the unknown road on our maps by ourselves.  This proved fruitless and after an hour of aimless riding we decided to go the longer way that the locals had been pointing us towards.  Back down the windy roads we went, backtracking all the headway we’d made coming into Da Lat.  About 20Km later we finally started progressing again on our trek towards Buon Ma Thout.

The roads we were taking today were absolutely magnificent.  For a good 50km’s the roads were nothing but us and the quaint countryside.  The roads were empty, the sun was out and the gravel had been freshly laid.  We made some serious distance in a short amount of time and it was a great feeling riding up and down the hills in the countryside.  We were taking corners with such ease.   We then started to make some serious headways into the central highlands.  The roads got steeper and more circular however the scenerie got far more dramatic.  Whole villages were perched, layered on hillsides.  At one point we stopped to blog the surroundings.  As we sat a man parked his moto and casually walked upto us to ‘trade’ chewing gums.  It was so ridiculuos and uncalled for yet so, natural for him?  He didn’t smoke but he did chew.  Interesting.

We continued forth excited with the headway we were making.  It all soon turned sour as without any warning the roads went from amazing to absolute dismal.  Suddenly we were travelling at about 5km/hour as driving on the roads just got ridiculous.  The gravel had completely dissapeared and we went from looking ahead to looking at the front wheel trying to navigate a safe path.  This slowed us right down as crater after crater appeared in the roads.  The further we got into the highlands the worse it got.  We rode through villages where pigs and chickens were roaming the streets.  All houses were made out of wood and children would run out waving at us and screaming.   This was all surreal and exciting but at the same time the reality was hitting home.  We were in the middle of nowhere, with no plans except to hit this city that we were never going to reach by sundown.  By 4.30pm it was already getting darker and we simply couldn’t beast down the roads like we’d been doing as there was simply no gravel to safely navigate.  After a few hours of stressfull riding it all came to a final cabang as we came around a bend and was met by a big sandbunker.  We crashed through it and I almost lost control of the bike.  Behind me Pattni somehow made it through the dust cloud and we stopped safely on the other end.  More kids ran from there shack houses laughing and excited to see us.  Right, we’re either sleeping on a clearing by the side of the road or we’re finding someone local who’ll let us sleep in a barn for the night.

On this trip we’ve had some serious luck, and this evening was no different.  From nowhere to somewhere we rode into a random town as the sun was giving it’s last light.  We pulled over at a store and asked if there was anywhere to sleep.  The very next property, apparently in Vietnemese, read hotel.  We walked over and to our luck, a lodging.  Although, it was probably the worst lodging we’d ever stayed at in all our travels.  Pattni seemed to have gained the Luxury suite, although his toilet had stopped working and in it was a golden puddle that reaked of urine.  Coupled with the fact the ‘bathroom’ had no roof the general smell in the room was not too pleasent.  My room looked more like a jail cell than anything else.  The ‘window’ which was actually bars on the wall were covered with a rag.  The bed was a plank of wood with a dirty sheet over and the pillows had enough sweat stains to think that this was perhaps the bedroom of nightmares.

We dumped our bags and headed out to the street to find some grub.  There was an eatery next door but as we arrived they’d run out of food.  We walked down to the market.  Meat was on display but lordy did it look foul.  I picked up some oranges and as we left the market we noticed another eatery.  They were selling Phu!   A few beers later and a hot broth of Phu and we were feeling a lot better about the situation.  We went next door to another convenience store and got all the snacks we could fit into a bag.  Mallow cakes, crackers, coconut lollies, beers, water and toothpaste that finally wasn’t SALT flavoured.  If we were staying in a shithole we might as well treat ourselves to some comfort foods.  For the rest of the evening we drank hooch and ate junk food on the bench out the front of our rooms.  Theres about 8 rooms all together.  The owners live in one of them.  There was a few peculiarly dodgey girls staying at a few of the others and in one room, what seemed like a United Nations gathering was taken place, as about 8 men piled in there and what was taking place seemed like an intence debate on the better motorcycle, Honda Win or Honda Dream.

Tired and wanting to leave this town as soon as possible we called it a night and plan on being up at 6am to ride on towards the Ho Chi Minh highway.

 

DAY 10 

I was awoken at about 6am by a rooster coc-a-doodle dooing outside my ‘window’.  Between 6am til 8am when I finally got up I was continually pestered by this rooster and the sound of people congregating outside my door for morning chit chats.

We loaded up the bikes and mapped out the days route.  We hoped to get to our previous days target, Buon Ma Thout by about 1pmish although we were leaving quite early and hoped that if the roads were better we’d get in earlier.  To our luck they were.  Heading away from the nights of port of call the roads cleared right up.   Still, in front of us was about 60kms of descending, twirling highway but the road was clear with strong winds the only thing against us.   That and Pattni running out of fuel on one of the hills.  I trekked ahead about 10kms to a village and filled a water bottle with fuel and drove back. Pattni’s hog had some sort of fuel leak. After we juiced it up with some fuel we headed into the next little town where a local mechanic sorted out the faulty fuel hose. While we waited we sipped on an interesting and slightly potent coffee drink at a nearby rest stop, it.  Sweetened condensed milk with a strange coffee mix from an old water bottle.  It tasted a tad like Baileys but not as creamy. Once the bike was fixed we were off again without incident.

The views around us were simply stunning.  It was like driving through a Call Of Duty map.  Hillsides with stunning lakes beneath them.  Cattle grazing, farmers working and every so often a funky looking tractor would drive past us.

The morning really picked up at about 11am when down the road we spotted an Elephant.  We couldn’t believe it.  We road up alongside it and took photos.  It went to the side of the road and we continued forward.  We drove through village after village and the amount of people waving and smiling at us almost became exhausting.

 

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We made good time heading into Buon Ma Thout arriving at just after midday.  Finally ATM’s started popping up however none of them were accepting our cards.  The city is actually quite modern, the roads were in perfect condition and police were at a lot of street corners, something that has been almost non existent since we arrived in Vietnam.  We actually got a bit anxious about them, if they stopped us on our bikes with no local papers.  They simply didn’t bother us however.  We decided we’d stop for lunch and out of nowhere appeared a KFC.  A KFC in Vietnam.  Not in Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi.  But in Buon Ma Thout.  It was ugly to the eye.  We found a local “Pho” stall and had ourselves a big broth and talked to the lady who owned it about where to head next.  With time on our hands we figured we could make some serious headway today.  Buon Ho was 40kms away, we could make that by 2pm.  And so after lunch we continued.  En route to the highway we needed to get on to get to Buon Ho a wolfpack of about 6 riders came up next to us.  It was another group of riders who were doing what we were doing, however they were heading in the opposite direction.  I spoke with one of them as we rode down the street,  they were heading to Da Lat, I told him about what we’d gotten upto and when we said adios I noticed all there backpacks had raincovers on them.   Is the weather shite up ahead??

We hit the highway and sure enough the weather started turning for the worse.  It got way colder and what was once hillsides had turned into straight forrestland.  Except the trees had no leaves on.  2 days ago we were riding in the summer heat and now we’re going into the winter cold?   We pulled over to start layering up.  We reached Buon Ho by about 3pm and decided to trek on further to Ea Drang, another 50kms.   The further we got into this trek the more sour the weather became.  Rain and cold greeted us.  We stopped for a drinks break and invested in a 6 pack of red bulls.  The lady who ran the shop tried to set her duaghter up with me and we promplty exchanged email addresses just in case.

 

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The final leg of the journey was the hardest. The air was bitterly cold and drizzle made our clothes damp, coupled with the heavy winds we found ourselves shivering as we struggled through the final 17kms. Our visors became useless as the rain made them difficult to see through.

We reached Ea Drang desperate to get out of the rain and cold, but finding a hotel was proving difficult. We looped back to start over  the main strip and we finally spotted one but alas, they had no vacant rooms. They did suggest another establishment which we went in search of.

Success! we finally had a roof over our heads. As soon as we got the room key we dashed under the covers to build up some body heat and recover from the cold.

After we felt ready to tackle the outside world again, we hopped back onto the bikes and headed for the market we saw on the way in. There we found a woman making what looked like little savory pancakes on open charcoal fired grills. The promise of food and ambient heat from the grills was enough to get us seated close by and we silently wolfed down a very tasty meal that we do not know the name of. It was basically barbecued mystery meat, wrapped in pancakes wrapped in rice paper and lettuce.

After an enjoyable dinner, we searched the nearby stalls for a can of our favorite snack “Mr Chips”.  We found a little shop that was seemingly run entirely by a pack of noisy children of assorted ages. After struggling to commincate with this band of cheeky kids we finally found our treats. On the way back to the bikes we picked up some farm fresh oranges and scurried back to base where much to our surprise the Pixar movie “Up” was showing on the little tv in our room.

We munched our snacks and enjoyed an awesome movie feeling our lids getting heavy. It had been a very long ride, almost 9 hours and tomorrow would be more of the same.

 

DAY 11 

We woke up a bit later than expected today.  When we did finally roll out from the chicken feathered mats the energy was high and after a quick shower we checked out the hotel and was on the road again.  We’d covered so much ground the past two days that we could afford to be a bit lazy today although we still planned to cover 150kms or so.

It was no way near as cold or wet as it was yesterday evening so at our first pit stop most of the 5 or 6 layers we’d dressed up in came off.  We tried to order an Iced Coffee at the village cafe we’d stopped at, but as usual our questions were met with smiles and no understanding.  There was some coffee lying around and we pointed at that.  No problemo.  We went and sat down and noticed that the shack had a big tree going through the roof.  Interesting,  Moments later the guy placed two shot glasses on our table and we watched as drip by drip the coffee was prepared in front of us.  Finally the glasses were full and we downed some seriously potent caffeine goodness.  As fresh as the morning!  Or was it afternoon.

We pressed further and made serious inroads into our quest.  In fact it was probably the quickest passage of roads we’d covered so far.  Flat, straight highway with only other bikes and the odd taxi to interrupt our bombing,  My tripod flew of my pack at one stage and I didn’t realise until I noticed Team PonyMaine (Pattni) was no longer behind me.  I turned around and found him trying to gain ground that he’d lost, when he had to pull over and tie it to his bags.

 

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We reached Pleiku by about 3pm with no real problems and the bikes were feeling good.  We were greatly impressed by the city we’d driven into.  It was the first real city we’d seen for quite sometime and after the past few nights of horrid food and sleep it crossed our minds to camp here for the night and then press forward the next day.  The next town was 50km’s away, however it wouldn’t offer the same sort of accomodation and resources this place would.  It was however, quite early to be calling it a day and the flirtation of adventure was also in our minds.  We flipped a coin, heads we stay in comfort or tails we take a risk.  Tails it was and we started up the engines.  We got about 7kms down the road when my bike had chain failure again.  My back tire locked up and I skidded to a hault in the middle of traffic.  Unlike in the past I sorted it out on my lonesome and got the chain back on, although the wheel would probably need shifting back.  Was this a sign not to goto Phu Hoa today?  Rite, lets get a really fancy hotel and a good feed, get the bike sorted and we’ll start fresh the next morning.  We drove back to the city centre and found a nice plush hotel, headed straight to the restaurant and ordered a nice lunch.

 

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It was about 5pm when we finally got to our rooms and we chilled out for a few hours before going in search of dinner.  Everywhere was closed apart from the first ever supermarket we’d seen in Vietnam.  And it was packed.  The hilarious thing was,  EVERYONE was staring at us as we shopped.  Kids would poke there brothers or sisters and point at us with smiles.  We walked into the fruit and veg section and it went from loud chatter to silent stares.  It was hilariously cool.  We must have went around the shop 2 or 3 times in search of bread until 1 man who knew a bit of English finally found out they’d sold out.  Sigh.  We got a ton of other goodies anyways and on the way back to the hotel we found a stand that was selling bread.  Perfecto!   We had ourselves dinner in the room, drank some cans of hootch and watched Blood Diamond.  Back on the hogs tomorrow, who knows what awaits us around the next corner.

DAY 12 

A great sleep last night.  Zonked asleep by about midnight and awoken at about 7 to the sound of someone or something walking on my roof followed by loud thumps.  An hour later and the thumps were now coming from the front door as Pattni initiated the ritual wake up call.  Out of bed and into the shower which produced 3 minutes of hot water goodness followed by the cross room dash to the warmth of the extra small towel.  We aimed to get on the road for 9am, however things got held up a tad.

I couldn’t find my hog keys.  I searched everywhere.  Emptied all my bags and repacked them.  Checked the bikes and stripped down the bedroom.  I asked at the hotel lobby and nothing.  The whole days ride was being held up by my foolishness.  GOD DAMN IT.  What do we do now, we have no spare keys.  Suddenly the lady from the hotel reception came running down laughing.  They’d found them.  I’d left them in the restaurant the previous day.  The relief was unexplainable. We checked out and piled down to the hogs and loaded them up.

Today we had one simple mission, to bomb it down the Ho Chi Minh highway and get as far North as we could, heading away from the highlands and towards the central pinnacle of Vietnam.  We reached Dak To – the previous days intended pit stop, in good time and decided it’d be a good chance to get some coffee and split up the days ride.  I’ve fallen in love with the local Iced Coffee.  They put condensed milk at the bottom of a glass and then strain the coffee into it, about a shots worth.  Drop in a few poo logs of ice and the result is a deadly refreshing beveridge.  In fact this morning I got me two of these as Pattni looked on with a smile.  Delicious.  We also invested in a few mouth guard cloth thingies to keep the fumes and dust out our schnouts.

As we left the town of Dak To all was going well.  The sun was shining and we were almost halfway across Vietnam.  This is brilliant.  We’ve already covered so much terrain.  We’d ridden through all kinds of climates, climbed up high altitudes and spiralled all the way back down again.  Then my chain clonked off again.  I quickly put it back on and got about 100m down the road before it came off again.  I noticed the bolts holding the wheel had come loose and so the wheel had pushed forward.  It was a good click before we managed to found a mechanic with the tools to readjust everything.  The local was brilliant.  Although his family and him knew not a word of English and our very limited Vietnemese meant conversation was more smiles and gestures,  they had a pack of new born puppies playing in the sand that kept us occupied whilst he went about fixing Rwanda.  Pattni also took the oppotunitiy to FINALLY get a rear mirror installed onto his bike.  Better late than never I guess.  Within half n hour we were back bombing it down the Ho Chi Minh highway.  Straight and empty roads, it was such good fun.  The sun this afternoon was really coming down and it was just brilliant having the wind blowing in our faces to cool us down.

 

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We came across a really surreal scene with mountains and fields on either side of the road with a lake neighbouring them.  It was one of the first times on this trek where we could actually get off the bikes and go down and explore without worrying about time.  It was amazing.  There was a village up near the mountains and a shepard had bought a herd of buffalo into the fields to graze.  We followed them to the river and struck up conversation with the shepard.  We shared a ciggerette and although none of us knew what the other was saying, it was still a great and humerous experience.  We went back to the hogs with smiles on our faces.   I was however in need of an immediate waste dump and with no real idea of when the next town would be it was to be this afternoon that I had my first open air field dump.  I must say the scenary surpasses any newspaper or magazine.

 

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Onwards we rode.  Since we left Da Lat about 4 days ago,  talking to locals has gotten harder and harder and today really struck home just how far we’d come.  We were riding near the border of Laos now, deep in Western Central Vietnam.  The people would only stare at us, the elders still speak French and English is simply unheard off.  Navigating streets has become a lot harder and we’re really feeling like we’re in the middle of nowhere.  It’s a truely odd and wonderful feeling.

We arrived in a town called Piel Can and decided to call it a day.  We found a nice hotel overlooking the hills in the distance and tired and hungry we slumped our bags into the room.  Okay.  So this hotel is just ridiculous.  In fact, we couldn’t believe our luck when we checked in.  The place is used for large weddings and so during the off days it’s a ghost place.  This means we have the whole dining hall, chapel and hallways to ourself.  The owner is absolutely in love with us.  After running around the chapel and pretending to be a part of a choir she sat us down and continued to onlay the biggest feast we’ve had to date.  First came the veggie rice, then beef and tofu.  Then out came a veggie broth.  Then out came 2 big plates of french fries that they decided to make us when they saw how much fun we were having hoovering their food.  Like, they actually went and bought potatoes as we ate to surprise us.  THEN out came fruit and dipping sugers.   They offered to bring out more but we were fat enough already.  We took our leftover brews out to the street curb that looked over the hills and slowly sipped, taking in everything around us.  Another day in ‘Nam.

 

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DAY 13 

We awoke this morning full of spirit.  The feed the night before followed by a heavy sleep on some soft beds meant that the only minor inconvenience this morning was again, the quick dash from lukewarm shower water to the small towel that barely wraps around our waist.  We convened on the 2nd floor balcony overlooking the hills in the distance and did our morning video blogs.  We thanked the hotel owner and tipped her royally and then loaded up the hogs and splurged on the sunscreen.  It was 9.30am and the sun was already beaming down.  Driving on the roads out of Plei Kan was a pure delight.  Sunshine and no other real traffic meant making good time was a breeze.

 

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We zipped through towns with rapid pace, the promise of the Ho Chi Minh highway finally coming true and we were cruising the roads unobstructed with only the occasional vehicle to remind us we didnt own these roads. infact we dodged more cows today than cars. We stopped in a little town called Dak Glei looking for our traditional midday coffee but we couldnt really spot any cafe on the main street. We did see a mobile phone shop were I went in to see how much a little handset would cost and instead managed to get one of the guys to show  us where we could get a coffee. We followed his little moped down a side street and ended up at this amazing cafe perched inside a lake. We had almost 360 degree views of lake and hillside while we sipped a turbo shot of Vietnamese style coffee, a concoction we have grown very fond off.

With a bit of caffeine in our tanks we straddled the hogs like Valentino Rossi and bombed our way down the roads with serious pace. These were some of the best roads we had been on, minimal traffic and great curves and straights meant riding our bikes on them was almost a zen like experience. We found our minds drifting off and riding the bike has become second nature.

After a while on the roads we started to notice the wind had a distinct chill to it and soon we stopped to apply additional layers of clothing to stay warm. Quite unusual considering earlier in the day we were slapping on the sun block with a trowel.

As the kilometers ticked by, we started to notice a very clear increase in elevation, bend after bend we seemed to be headed up again and soon enough we were riding up in the hills again. The panoramas were simply incredible, the green hills and valleys as lush as can be surrounded us on all sides, the road snaking through the sea of green kept going higher and soon we were seeing clouds mingling with the tips of the hills.

Temperatures had now dropped quite a bit and soon enough we were actually at the same elevation as the cloud layer. We rode past many waterfalls and large rivers. The air was filled with constant light drizzle and mist. Our clothes and equipment started to get covered in moisture and at one point the fog had reach levels where visibility was reduced to only 20 meters. Today’s path has truly been one of the most incredible to witness. No amount of photos or video can convey just how it feels to be there surrounded by mountains and clouds. It really is mind blowing.

 

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As the roads continued, we finally started to dip downward again for which we were thankful as the constant moisture had made our clothes damp making it very cold conditions to ride in. We decided to man up and set our goal for today the town of My Thien still 80kms away.   We bombed the last long haul all the whilst passing waterfall after waterfall.  Although still wet as we came down the mountains the temperature did get a tad warmer.  Team Rwanda started to report engine failure about 10km out from My Thien and an emergency fuel refill was needed.  We stopped next to a wooden shack looking over one of the hills.  There was about 10 kids in there who all came out to greet us and they gave us a litre of fuel each to get into town.  We bombed on and made it safely.

 

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Needing a big feed after the days antics we went to the local market and found a lady cooking a broth on an open fire.  We sat down and got stuck in.  Tired and cold we headed back to the room to warm up and watch the rest of Blood Diamond.  Today has been truly incredible.  We’ve gone from baking in the sun to freezing cold in the clouds.  We’ve seen more natural wonders than we’ll need to see on the whole trip.  The flora is all so colourful and it just coats the mountainside.  Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!  Off to bed, zzzz.

DAY 14 

Yet again, at the crack of dawn, roosters were going crazy.  This meant another early rise and shine which wasn’t exactly a bad thing, there was a few things however, that needed to be done before we hooted towards Hoi An.

 

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Late yesterday my bike started playing up and I needed to get it fixed.  After getting dressed I rode it up and down the main street until it started playing up again and then took it to a mechanic.  He pretty much got it fixed straight away.  A huge bolt that held the engine in place had completely fallen out leaving a valve semi disconnected.  After re affixing the valve and replacing the bolts it was game on again.  The service cost 20, 000 dong.  1 Australian Doller.  I rode to a Coffee Shope (Coffaay) and got Pattni and I a few cheeky morning coffee bean treats.  When I got back to the guest house Pattni had just got out the shower and as we enjoyed our drinks we got everything packed up and after saying goodbye to the family and the rooster we set off for Hoi An.  It was about 80km’s which isn’t too far at all.  The roads this morning were as they have been the previous 2 days, open with little to no traffic.  As we got off the Ho Chi Minh highway we took a few wrong turns, although, to be fair, we WERE following directions given to us by locals.  We ended up reaching Da Dang by about 1pm which was further North than we expected and so had to go an extra 25km south to reach Hoi An.

We arrived in a flurry of hustle in the towns market square.  We rode slowly dodging locals and tourists.  In fact this was the most amount of other tourists we’d come across since leaving Ho Chi Minh.  We rode over a bridge into what appeared to be the old quarter which housed a few resorts and hotels.  What the.  We enquired about a room and the prices were ridiculous.  We went back over the bridge and got stuck in some serious traffic at a small intersection.  The path down the road wasn’t moving and we had to rear up and go a different route.  We ended up finding a cheeky hotel down a cobbled lane and unloaded a bike.  An American couple were sitting in the foyer deciding if they’d stay there or not.  They asked if we’d been riding our bikes around the countryside.  No, we’re riding from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi. WHAT!.  They said they tried to ride upto Da Nang but the weather got sour so they turned back.  I didn’t even begin to tell them about the previous days adventures in the clouds.

After checking in we ventured out to find some lunch.  We found a nice corner cafe where we ate and sat for a few hours watching life pass us bye.  It was great to be at a destination with time to spare to soak everything in.  After lunch we went into the markets to have a bit of a gander.  It was very much the same as we’ve seen in the past but with it’s own unique character.  The lanes were very narrow and they were packed with people.  I got a necklace with a monkey on – the monkey bastid.  We also picked up some T-Shirts and found a cheeky drinks bar where Mo got a coconut and I got an ole school glass of Coca Cola.  After munching down some sort of nut-cracker-snack-bar thingo we went back to the room to chillax for an hour and thats when darkness struck.  I started feeling pretty cruddy and soon enough I was running to the toilet.  3 or 4 more times this evening  dashes to the toilet were required as my first bout of ‘Nam belly troubles took over.  In between all this we did manage to get out to eat some meager dinner at a place called the MERMAID RESTAURANT.  It was Vietnam New Year tonight and we had hoped to go out for a bit of party-party, but we stayed in and watched Robocop before falling asleep.  I was awoken at midnight by the fireworks and crawled out onto the roof to watch them.  It was actually quite pleasent, fireworks for New Year in February.  YOU CRAZY VIETNEMESE YOU!

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DAY 15 

We got out of bed this morning later than expected which for some of us was well needed.  Feeling better and with the hope that the previous nights sickening had, erm, filtered through, I went over to the markets to find some tea and munch on some fresh bread.  Pattni and I were piled into the same room last night and so just like everytime we share a room, the bathroom was turned into a water fun park after shower hour.

Today we headed 30kms to a place called My Son.  My Son hosts 6 sights of ancient relics dating from the 9th to the 15th century.  Old temples and pilgrims restored and are which now a world heritage listed site.  The ride up was fine and dandy, only getting lost a few times.  The temples themselves were quite interesting although for a world heritage site, slightly unkept.  Still, our imaginations ran wild thinking about what it’d been like thousands and thousands of years ago, being here.

 

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After the ruins we headed back toward Hoi An and the weather started to cool down again as we stopped to layer up. Just before we arrived, my gear shifter fell out as some point, once again, we stopped right in front of a mechanic shop. While the replacement part was being installed, we sampled of a bowl of noodles and watched the locals play some gambling game with dice we dont quite understand just yet.

With the shiny new part in place, we were cruising to De Nang just before sun down. After a minor struggle with directions, we finally found the hotel strip and checked a few prices until we came across the Prince Hotel, just off the main strip where we decided to make base.

Once we were settled we wandered out to find some grub to fill the void in our bellies. It turns out a lot of restaurants were closed today due to the Lunar New Year and finding an open establishment was becoming a bit of a challenge. Some locals offered to take us to a Pho restaurant, but even that was closed. We decided to loop back and just wander when much to our joy, we found an cosy Indian restaurant that was open for business!

The stressed out waiter served us ice cold Saigon beer to wash down some heart warming curries and samosas all wrapped up in glorious soft naan breads. We could not have asked for a better meal.

Tomorrow we explore Da Nang some more and then off to Hue!