Motorbike Turbulence

So I got home safely, it was likely to happen… however the plane driver operator pilot did his best to make me doubt it.

You know, I’m not sure turbulence is a real thing. It feels like the whole plane had just landed on cobbles but you are thousands of feet up and passing through air, not known to behave like victorian rock roads. I think the pilot just gets bored and announces to the cabin that there is some “turbulence” approaching. As if they just looked out the window and saw a herd of cattle.. “Oh look, some cattle at 35,000ft…” casual. And then the pilot and his piloty mates exercise the biggest con in aviation.  I bet there is no such thing as turbulence, I bet the pilot just wobbles the steering wheel direction adjuster flying stick until he gets a few people to shriek or until he thinks the air hostesses will coo over him and stroke his arms saying “you’re such a skilled pilot to have controlled the plane in such terrible turbulence!” Maybe my imagination has wandered off on its own…

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Homeward bound and gagged

Hanoi to Russia to Home 1.5

The day to leave had come. Bag was packed. Bike remained unsold. Mike was in bed (like any sane person would be at 6am) Bed checked and double checked for hidden items. Checked out. Egg Bahn Mi in my face. Coffee in hand. Taxi waiting.

The weather echoed my mood; Heavy overhead with persistent drizzle. If only I didn’t have to leave… the “real world” we had been talking about, in flying comma, beckoned and there could be no ignoring it now. I mean, I could ignore it, and I would be fine, but I would be seriously shooting my career in the foot. I like my job and I enjoy my career but in this moment I felt like nothing more than throwing the towel in and disappearing into the east asian distance. Just thinking about the possibility made me pause getting in the taxi.

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Vegging out, vegging in

Hanoi chill out

I am glad I checked my flight details today. I had misread the time of departure as 1600 where it was actually 0955 tomorrow. The downside was that I had already spent the whole day relaxing and vegging out writing up the last 3 days of blogs. It was evening when the panic started to rise and I had to frantically pack and sort all my stuff out before the pub quiz. I had thought that with my flight at 1600 I could leisurely wake and do my packing and last bits of shopping before swanning over to the airport after lunch. It was not to be and I found myself running around collecting washing, trying to sell the bike, getting dinner, playing the pub quiz, buying a carry on bag, doing the pub quiz challenges and arranging a taxi in the morning with some of the islanders.

One of the things on my to do list had been drop off a Geocache somewhere in Vietnam. (See for literally the coolest nerdy thing to do for free) I had found a Trackable in one of the caches in England and decided to give it a boost around the globe. It had been in my bag for the whole trip, occasionally surfacing in my mind. I know it’s a silly 1st world problem to have but I have just been so busy doing cool stuff that I’ve not gotten around to it. Even today, where it was mostly spent administrating my life and catching up on blogging I was too busy to find time. I hang my head in shame that I have not completed my Geocaching mission.

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Wobbling Wounded

Ha Long to Hanoi

The aftermath of the night before was evident this morning. The pleasant morning gong managed to rouse about 20% of the island. I was up, not one to miss a meal. I had the choice of enjoying the company of the angry omelette man or semi-conscious sandy islanders. None more sandy than Mike who had crashed out on the beach and made himself a sand pillow. Somehow in the middle of the night he had dragged himself, and half the beach it seemed, back into his bed.

Time is deceptive on the island. Because you have been partying all day and the only light is sunlight or that powered by generator, once everyone has given up and passed out, its not actually that late. It gets dark at about 8pm and after 4 hours of dancing like a loon I was knackered!

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Coral Cove Calamities

Ha Long Bay Castaway Island Cruise

Morning was greeted to the sound of a furiously beaten gong… just what an island of hungover people need to hear. After breakfast had been dispatched we got on the beer pong, well why not eh? (oh, I’ve picked up some Canadian slag, eh!) I knew that drinking and being drunk on the cruise would be a bad idea for me so I didn’t bother after that first round of beer pong. I was rubbish as it turned out anyway. Leemee (I don’t know how to spell his name other than phonetically) and I teamed up last night and we didn’t get to finish a game against Big Bear and Mike so that had to be settled. I must have lost the mad skills that I spent 2 summers in France developing.

The pleasure boat arrived and the music started. We loaded up with food and beer and set sail. It was amazing phut phut phutting around the bay. All the rocks were spectacular and I longed to climb them. I made do by mentally new routing the hell out of all the crack systems and bubbly pocketed limestone. I reckon I can Mental Climb™ to at least E3 now. New PB. I vow to come back here and actually climb something when (not if) I get the chance. I am glad there were games and dancing to be done. Drifting along seeing the rocks and the floating villages is amazing. There are a lot citation required of islands in the archipelago and while they are all amazing and don’t lose their appeal they all start to look the same. I felt fine while we were within the protection of the bays but we had to cross a less protected stretch of water and it got a bit choppy. Soon I was feeling the effects of the heaving boat and heaving myself but managed to keep my breakfast – much to Mike and the GoPro’s disappointment.

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Wakeboarding Wilson

Hanoi to Ha Long Bay Castaway Island

One bar crawl later, it was time to get up for a 7am coach to Castaway Island. This was the start of a 3 day boat tour (and party) around Ha Long Bay archipelago. The bus ride was not pleasant for me. Wobbly, hot busses and cramped conditions with added hangover make me vomit. Mike was helpful as usual. I had moved to the front of the bus to see the road and as soon as he heard me starting to retch, he bombed over to poke the GoPro in my face… Cheers bro.

After a 2.5 hour pukey coach ride, it was time for a 1 hour dieselly powerboat shuttle. This was quickly followed by another bus ride over one of the larger Islands. And finally, for desert, a slow, bobbing, pleasure boat to Castaway Island. Luckily I was saved by a magic pill a girl gave me to stem the flow of vomit. For once I was able to enjoy being on a boat and the spectacular scenery around me. Continue reading Wakeboarding Wilson

The Last Leg

Ninh Bihn to Hanoi

It was time for the last stretch of the bike tour. Hanoi, our target for a month, lay ahead of us. Normally, coming into a city you approach from over a hill or down a valley. You can see the lay of the land and I always enjoy that, getting a feel of the size and density of a city as you arrive. Hanoi did not go that way. As soon as we left Ninh Binh, there was about 10km of open land and then there was always a wall of houses between us and the fields. It just built up slowly but surely as we got closer and closer to Hanoi Proper™. The distance between us and the fields got deeper, the buildings grew and the density of traffic became incredible.

Biking in Ho Chi Minh was mental, but this is something else. They have 3 lane highways where every inch is covered in bikes about half a meter apart, max. If you want to change direction or cross the road, you just have to go for it. There is no waiting for your space, you start moving and space is made for you. Blind hope and luck gets you from one side to the other. Continue reading The Last Leg

Mountains and Man Points

Ninh Binh Bouldering

Took our time today, the hostel is WAY out of town in the mountains. We had a lazy start, sleeping in late and slow breakfast. It’s so relaxed and tranquil here, surrounded by paddy fields and lilly marshes and BLOOD SUCKING MOSQUITOES!!!! Literally the buggers are the size of hummingbirds with the bills to match! There are mosquito nets over the beds but it takes sniper eyesight to catch all of them before you go to sleep.

Last night I didn’t get a chance to update the blog because just as I was choosing a photo I dropped my phone… And the screen smashed. So I’ve added a bit to yesterday’s post about eating gruesome things. I’ve been so careful with it but I guess it was going to happen eventually with a phablet. We went into town and found a guy who knew a guy who could fix it for £25, bargain!

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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

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