Hue to Dong Ha
Today started in safe mode. Only a few systems online at a time, limited memory, error checking and system restoring myself. It took a good 4 hours to recover well enough to contemplate any sort of action today. After two amazing nights out in a row, I am feeling a bit weary and fuzzy headed. Luckily all we had to do was 70km to the next town up the coast.
We are trying to stay up in the mountains for the roads but the country is so skinny at this point the only towns are near the coast anyway. The only problem was the weather, again wr had drizzle. And we had to commit to starting the ride in the rain, so it was really demoralising.
Enroute we picked up some massive plastic ponchos. We must have looked like giant condoms riding toy bikes. They did the job well however, we only had wet feet and the first foot of trouser for a change. I am definitely going to keep this poncho for downpours in the UK. One day, it will hoon it down and you will all be jealous of my body-condom.
I also picked up a puncture onroute, bummer. Especially because I was at the back and by the time the rest of the gang noticed I wasn’t there, they were 15mins down the road, WAY out of sight. I hung around for a while but in the end I had to sort myself out. I happened to pull up outside a truck tyre shop but they couldn’t help with my bike tyre. The roadside shops in vietnam do one thing only. There are so many, literally every building has a shop front that they have to specialise. So I walked, pushing the bike until a nice chap showed me where to go. Three young mechanics all huddled around and quickly got the tyre off and inner tube out. They expertly found, prepped, patched and reassembled the bike in record time. While the glue was drying we had time to chat, well, sign with each other as neither of us spoke the others language. I thought they were all apprentice mechanics or something because they were so small. They were actually my age! They looked about 12 – 18 max! It’s the same with all the Vietnamese people, they must be onto something Nivea and Olay haven’t found yet.
When riding in the rain everything just takes longer and is more miserable than usual. We entertained ourselves with condom jokes and taking the piss out of Camilla. With her raincoat and hoody cinched up tight around her face and inflated by the wind, she looked like a disgruntled sloth.
For dinner we wandered down the street and found a local joint serving food from a picture menu. You still didn’t really know what it was so the vegetablists kept going to see what they could find. We had some of the most spicy and garlicky veggies I have ever eaten. There were some deep fried meaty spring rolls and lastly some chunks of rabbit in an oily sauce that you had to pick the ribs out of. It was awesome!
At dinner I suggested we check out the Karaoke bar. It was a band new, high rise, central-london-swish looking kinda place. Completely in contrast to the grimey, dirty, 2 storey houses it was surrounded by. It was so strange we had to see what was going on.
Inside was so posh, we stuck out like white trash at the opera, in our muddy flipflops, Mike’s rainbow pants and hoodies. We sat in the lobby and had surprisingly cheap coffee and people watched. Everyone was dressed to impress, suits, cocktail dresses, the full works and then us… When we arrived at the top floor bar and the lift doors opened, the concierge and security all burst out laughing at us. We laughed back at the ridiculousness of the situation.
The bar was incredibly trendy, something you would find at the top of the Shard. A waiter per table and hospitality hosts at our beck and call it was incredible, we were treated like royalty. Of course we were the new shiny toy in the club and that played into their hands too so it was nicely mutually beneficial. We made some new friends and whenever we danced, practically the whole place also came up to dance, it was a great night.
The drinks were expensive by Vietnamese standards; a beer is usually 20-40,000 dong (snigger) and they were charging 80,000 dong (lol… dong) or 110,000 dong (Ha!) for cocktails. It worked out about £3 for a cocktail which is normal by our standards but we had the highest class of service I have ever experienced and did not spend anymore than I would have in the UK! What should have been a quiet night in, turned into one of the best, most random nights out of the trip so far!