First Steps

I’d like to think that angels smile on we when things go right and I make some mistakes when things go wrong.

The weather angles are smiling on me. In 3 days of cycling its been hot but no monsoonal downpours. Tomorrow it will rain, but at least it will cool me down.

The angels of navigation have been absent since we took a wrong turn going to the airport in home town Perth. If bad signs go on a scale of 1 to 10, then getting lost in a place you know has to score a 10. Although Vietnam back roads are more interesting, riding for 2 hours and finding that you’ve ridden in a big loop back to almost the start is disheartening. A map larger than 1 : 1.25M would be good.

The angels of tonal languages are poking me with cattle prods, effective but painful. I’ve had some short conversations in English, but most of it has been me trying to learn at least some basics in Vietnamese. I’m learning to pick the friendly road side drink stops and street food vendors. If they speak a tiny bit of English then I’m right to get started, pull out the map and show where I’m going. We can then bounce some greetings and place names around and be friendly.

I lasted nearly 2 full days without the angels of mechanical failure neglecting me. A bearing in my pedal started clicking for a few km, then discintegrated about 30m past a motorbike/ bicycle mechanics. I wouldn’t say its fixed, but they did a pretty good job of making it work again. They laughed pretty had when they saw tiny ball bearings in a pedal. On the other side of the patio the guy was swinging hammers at an old bike.

The route so far has taken me Hanoi up to Lang Son with over nights in Bach Ninh and Dong Mo (no I’m not going to add the squiggles to the letters). Its about a 130km trip straight along the highway, but the navigation angels and a quick detour at the start / preference for B/C/D roads made it 225km.

Turning off the highway into Dong Mo last night was awesome. The 2km side road was quiet and narrow with houses, dogs and kids all winding down for the day. I stayed in the 4 storey, 40 room hotel but I’m pretty sure I was the only guest.

I found Asia meets tapas dinner at a place where the daughter spoke enough english to fill the gaps, dad wanted to drink green tea with me and some other guys wanted to do shots of something that was cloudy, in a plastic gatorade bottle and must have shortened my life expectancy. It also made me snort giggle after the third so must have been good.

 Tomorrow . . . who knows what I’ll do. I might head east instead of west to ride up a 1000m hill (currently at 300m) with a guest house on top. We’ll see.



About shuttrjames

I`m riding a bike through SE Asia. i come from a country where we only speak english, have good maps and no hills. Here. I am in trouble! Follow me to get lost in the back roads of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. james
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