Sunday, September 19th, 2021

Day 1: Hanoi – Hoa Binh


85 KMs
“Breaking out of the city”

Last night I was given a sobering talking to from a local guy – Danny – who runs motorbike tours into the areas I’m travelling to. He showed me photos of muddied roads, hellish climbs and treacherous descents. His strong advice: don’t do it. Danny was acutally a really good guy and trying to be helpful. I came across him when I passed his shopfront and entered hoping they would have a better map than the lame one I had (he did). On the basis of the chat I did two things: changed the direction of the ride and went into a state of mild panic.

Finally got moving this morning at around 10.30am, not before going to buy a jumper for Sapa. I wasn’t able to find a replacement skewer end in Hanoi (lost it in transit), so the front wheel is held on by a washer and nut. Not exactly confidence inspiring. Have to remember to check it. Left in the rain this morning which is never a good start and after a few wrong turns finally got out of the city. Stopped roadside at a puncture repair station (old guy with an air compressor) to top up the tyres – 15 cents. Ended up drafting behind a guy carrying two wardrobes on the back of a motorbike for 10kms. Had some strange looks from people that I passed.

Stopped for breakfast in Hua Lac and Pho Bo (beef soup) again for probably the fourth time in three days. The old guy there also gave me a red bull – I probably looked like I needed it. The guys at the `cafe’ also offered me a puff of the opium pipe they were smoking and were most upset when I refused. Back on the road traffic started to thin and scenery started to improve . The air quality isn’t good and so the massive mountain peaks can barely be made out. Makes it even more daunting not being able to see what you are riding into.

Had a couple come past on a moto and we started chatting (at 30kph), which we did for 10kms. they wanted to know how old I was, whether I had children, etc. The last 30kms of the ride was reasonably challenging with a few hills, though nothing like what’s up the road. Found a hotel that looks OK, and dried out my $US that were soaked with sweat. Had a wander around the fresh food market and crossed the bridge to a spot overlooking the river, celebrating night one with a couple of Bia Hanois (pictured). Amazed by the French architecture in the villages here – reminds me of northern France with a bit of price relief and a lot of agricultural machinery to contend with. My horrendous repertoire of Vietnamese words – Bia and Pho – need to be improved if I am to eat anything other than soup washed down with beer.


2 Responses to “Day 1: Hanoi – Hoa Binh”
  1. dtazik says:

    Always good to start a trek with beer!


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