On A High-way to Hue

Outside the guesthouse in the morning, getting the bikes ready to set off. The guesthouse was fine when we were there, but half hour after we set off, Dan realised he’d left his camera. He rode straight back, and first they denied they’d seen it, and then when they admitted they had it, they made him pay 500000 dong (25 dollars) for his own camera. Bastards. But he was so desperate to get riding, he had to pay it.

After Brian and Dan caught up with us. They rode like the wind, and we were taking it pretty easy so it didn’t take them too long. 5 minutes after this pic was taken though, we went to leave and Dan had a flat, so we spent the next 20 minutes going to find  mechanic, who fixed it at the roadside. Gotta love Vietnamese mechanics, they’re total no nonsense, get shit done and say fuck all about it types.

The Ho Chi Minh Highway itself. 90% of it is beautiful unblemished tarmac. The other 10% is crazy potholes, mudslides, water buffaloes and waving schoolchildren.

Water and snack break. It was thrashing down most of this day, hence the wet weather gear. And we were heading up towards the Dao De Dao Pass, so it was getting really cold. I ended up putting on a couple of (by this point absolutely stinking) shirts just to stop shivering.

Most of the Highway was deserted, but you did get the occasional truck. This one was ahead of us as we came down from the top of the pass, and i think he was trying to stop us overtaking him. As we came to a corner, he jammed on the brakes and jacknifed literally 20 feet in front of me, smashing up the trailer and the side of the road in the process. Seriously hairy. We pulled forward and took this shot looking back, he’d been facing towards the camera originally. Note the driver randomly smashing the crap out of the trailer for no apparent reason.

After we came down from the pass, we ended up in the most amazingly beautiful valley, with mist curling up over the mountains.

Me and Laurens stopped to take photos, but we had to do a lot more riding, so we couldnt afford to stop after that. But literally round the corner and into the next valley was one of the most beautiful sights i’ve ever seen. Forested mountains with wooden houses and paddy fields nestled in between, and mixed in, gnarled trees covered in vines and lianas. It was so incredibly beautiful, it broke my heart just to see it.

The town where we stopped for the night, on the edge of a national park. It was fine, but the whole place shut down by 8pm. We ended up having food in the hotel, which i’ve been avoiding in favor of random street food generally.

The next day we thrashed it to Hue, and not really any great views in that stretch, so no pics. The bikes however, had taken a hammering. Steffan’s bike had stripped a thread on the exhaust header, mine needed new piston rings and a valve, and Laurens bike (we now realised) had an engine casing which had been glued together, and needed total replacement. This is us outside the mechanics in Hue. They went and got a guy from round the corner so they could understand what the hell we were saying, and then sorted us right out. I had a new chain and sprockets too, new fork seals, oil change, and a load of other bits and pieces for about 50 quid. Pooey is beautiful now, well, you know, as much as he can be…

Went for food the first evening in Hue, we all got amazing food, and Laurens ordered jacket potato and got this. Disappointment has never been expressed better.

UPDATE – If you’re interested in the route we took from Hanoi to Hue, Laurens has helpfully made a route on google maps. You can find it here.

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~ by zendog888 on 20/11/2010.

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