Soggy Present Hunting

Vinh to Ninh Binh

Motorbike status update since last time.

  • The ignition has been fixed and then broke again
  • The second gear was fixed and then all gears broke. Now they all work again
  • The bike developed an interesting tweeting sound around the carb
  • The bike wont idle, it just wont.
  • Rear right indicator is just about clinging to the bike
  • Indicators only turn right, no matter which way you choose
  • The ignition also indicates right
  • Nothing has changed with the headlights, but they are so crap they are worth mentioning again

So things are going well. Both bikes are running but only just. We figured it was worth getting Mikes strange top end tinkle sorted out before we hit the highway. Turned out the cam chain sprocket was almost toothless < pause for dramatic effect > for those who dont know engines, if the timing chain had gone or slipped off the sproket it would almost certainly have written off the top end of the engine. That would have been a really big ball ache.

We are just blasting up the main highway towards Ha Noi. Its boring, monotonous riding, nowhere near as good as we have had it till now. However we are about a day behind the girls and need to bash out the miles to catch them in Ninh Binh.

There was nothing about Ninh Binh in the guide book but everyone we met coming the otherway had stopped there. There must be something worth seeing if everyone had come from there.

We stopped for lunch in a random roadside Pho shop. Pho is noodle soup sometimes with a type of meat thrown in there. Ita always different but a variation on the theme. The pho was ace but i was put off when I went to the loo in the shack out the back. There was a lady just leaving and she spotted me and went and threw some water down on the floor to wash away… Well I couldnt divulge what is was but it did nothing for the smell. I somewhat lost my appetite after that.

To make the road more interesting we tried to spot presents to buy eachother. I spotted an amazing coloured horse so went to enquire but found out it was made of concrete. Mikes bike, though it was nkw working properly, it wouldnt last long with an metric toncitation needed of faux horse on the back.

We also stopped to take a look at some 6ft high red abd gold birds… on reflection however we thought better of this as a gift. But we had a good chat with the owner and I bought a Vietnamese flag to trail behind me.

After that the weather got progressivly worse so we gave up on gift hunting. We had to concentrate so hard on the traffic coming into Ninh Binh because all the roads out here have a film of oil, gravel and mud. All of which are favorites of motorcyclists… There was only one really sketchy moment while filtering up to the highway toll booth. A scooter popped out between the lorries and surprised me. I jammed on the anchors and slide about 5m but managed to stay rubber side down. Phew!

The last 3km were fun as we finally reached the attraction that was the reason people come to Ninh Binh. Huge randomly dotted vertical cliffs of limestone topped with trees. It was amazing riding in, swooping around them in the fog. I cant wait to explore them more tomorrow.

After I dropped my phone I couldn’t be anti-social so I joined in a game of cards with fellow inmates – I mean travellers. Soon after the ower of the hostel invited us to sit with his family and join in some traditional Vietnamese food. This area is famous for its goat based produce. They are about the only domesticated animals that can scale the ludicrous mountains and return home safely. He produced some amazing dishes for us to try. Communication is a bit hard but we are pretty sure one of them was cold jellied heart. It wasn’t bad, but I dont think I’d pick it off a menu, it had a very distinctive taste. I then tried something that looked like an eyeball. The owner was a bit of a joker and went by the pseudonym “Batman” (he also did a really good Sheldon Cooper impression) He had me convinced it was eyeballs and I definately tensed up as I bit into it. Then relaxed as I found it full of seeds. No idea what it was but thank goodness it wasnt an eyeball!

Batman then showed us some magic tricks. They were actually more like hustling tricks and we specualted how he had funded his nice shiney hostel business… well it didnt really matter because he also shared with us his rice wine/liquer. This was nearly as potent as the builders stuff and after a while his magic tricks got really poor but much more funny. We seem to meet the nicest most generous people!