To have a dog and bark yourself.

I’ve never been good at navigation, and my trusty 1:1 250 000 map that covers 3 countries tends to let me down when you get to unmarked intersections. That was lunchtime on what turned into a very long day in a hilly area with washed away, partly sealed, partly rock garden roads.
The day took me through some really remote areas. At times you’d think the locals had never seen a white person, 5 minutes later you’d think you were next to the CBD as some guy in a clean business shirt scoots past. Confusing mix.

But the one that confused me the most is peoples relationship with animals. They aren’t exactly hindu in their respect for animals. The markets are covered in chickens and ducks in little cages, often they make their way home hanging on the end of handlebars with their feet tied together and head hanging down, squarking every now and then.

But the ones that really confuse me are the water buffalo and horses. The buffalo are huge and dosile. Most of the rice paddies are ploughed by tractor now, but I passed several people carrying the heavy steel ploughs as they led their buffalo to and from the paddies.
The buffalo is huge, the person is tiny. The person gets the heavy plough to carry.
Its the same with horses. The horse will have a bag of rice on each side of its saddle. The person will have the wooden stick with two hanging baskets, overflowing with twice what the horse is carrying. Its a horse! use it!

But, everything happens for a reason. If it seems illogical to me, then maybe its becasue I don’t see some other better reason. Maybe one day I’ll work it out.

Today was a long day in the sun and the rain. 101 km from Cao Bang to Cho Ra, just short of Ba Be national park. The first 80km included 5 mountains, yesterday a guy described in to me running his finger up and down over the 5 digits of his other hand as he counted to five. At least I was expecting a harsh day. The upside to grinding slowly up a mountain for an eternity is the rush of bombing down the other side. A fully loaded bike gets up speed fast and takes a while to loose it again!

The last 20k was supposed to be flat but they still looked like hills to me.

My pedal that was on its way out took another turn for the worse today. I just ordered a rebuild kit in to meet me in Sa Pa next week. Until then I hope it doesn’t cause me too much grief.


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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