Hue to Mui Ne – The Road South

Ok, this post is a bit of biggy, since it covers literally half the country, from Hue in the middle of the country, to the delectable beach resort of Mui Ne, where we’ve been for a couple of days now, recovering from the ordeal…

Ah, look at him there, Rhys “Beating Your Wife is a Leisure Activity” Lewis, proudly astride his mighty steed. This is us leaving Hue in the morning, unaware of the tribulations to come. We rode through the mountain pass i posted some pictures of at the end of my “Hoi An to Hue” post, but this time, the weather turned completely against us. It was thrashing with rain, gloomy, and the gravel at the side of the road turned from interesting diversion to lethal hazard. When the trucks started coming round the corners at us at high speed, the stage was set. For Rhys’ first bike crash.

I had a fair few moments myself, could have happened to any of us, but he got forced off the road onto the gravel, hit the brakes, started sliding, dodged some concrete posts and hit the softest thing he could find, a pile of sand. That turned out to be full of huge rocks. Amazingly, damage to the bike and Rhys was minimal, a bent brake lever and an injury that Rhys insisted was merely inches from causing cock damage. After dusting ourselves off, and continuing at an understandably slower pace, we only managed 50km that day, and hadnt managed to go south at all. We just squelched our way into the nearest guesthouse and got some sleep.

Some things you just have to do. Not sure why Rhys is looking on so intently though…

Thankfully the next day was an improvement, in weather and luck, and we made much better progress. This, i have to tell you, is a road worth riding.

Enjoyment of which was only slightly marred by Rhys’ bike’s tendency to pick up punctures.

And Steff’s clutch starting to slip up hills, which did occasionally cause him to spontaneously start kicking his bike as we casually overtook him, looking smug. The sunglasses hide the tears here.

Bola Fight! Has there ever been a better venue for such a contest? I think not. Official rules of the International Bola Fight Federation obviously specify appropriate safety equipment for such a dangerous sport, and we felt compelled to comply.


We had a couple of days pretty much like that, occasional showers and punctures, beautiful mountains. We’d climb up and up and up, and then come down hours later thinking it was an amazing range of mountains we’d come through, only to start slowly climbing again…

Lunch Stop, somewhere with lovely weather. We were doing pretty well this day, and then…

Another puncture. We’d been pretty lucky with these, always only a few hundred metres from a mechanic. But this time, it was kilometres. We tried borrowing a pump in case it was a slow one from some locals, but it wasn’t happening. On the upside, the locals were happy to help out. On the downside, they were absolutely shitfaced at 4pm. We tried to borrow tools and do it ourselves, but we were politely elbowed out the way by this guy. He obviously knew what he was doing, but his abilities basically amounted to drunkenly waving the tools in the direction of the bike until they hit something. Mechanics normally fix a puncture in 10 minutes. It took him an hour and a half. We nevertheless thanked him profusely, and tried to give him money, which he steadfastly refused. A good, if utterly intoxicated bloke.

Next day, we stopped at the roadside for a quick break and were immediately beset by the friendliest, smiliest and most energetic bunch of kids i’ve seen in Vietnam. They were fascinated, tried out their english on us, insisted on everyone of them getting to high-five us, and were generally delightful. Then i showed them my helmet, and everyone wanted a go. Had to take a pic of the cutest little girl with the shades down.

Since the speedo is broken, i thought i’d give Pooey a bit of an upgrade. Aside from a strange vibration, which kept making the sidestand fall down (scary on mountain roads), and turned out to be a loose exhaust, this bike has has been amazing. It doesnt look it, but its been utterly indestructable. I’ve lost count of the times the suspension has bottomed out over potholes, the miles of mud, and gravel, sand, the long hillclimbs, the intermittent maintainence. Pooey is a tough little bugger. Its going to be hard to sell him.

This day, we made a critical error. We rode 40 kilometres out of our way after making a wrong turn. It happens. Then we decided to stick to the plan of where we were meant to get to that day anyway, since we all wanted to get to Mui Ne ASAP. Which meant night riding. We then compounded the error by deciding the quickest route would be cross country. The journey should have taken us 2 hours tops. 5 hours later, we’re in the middle of countryside in complete darkness, with only occasional drunken Vietnamese people in huts as our guide. Who just told us we were miles from anywhere. That was a long night. By the end i was laughing into my helmet with some kind of fatigue hysteria. We eventually found a weird town like something out of the twilight zone, weird lights and strange unidentified building projects, everyone seemed strange and unfriendly. One guy wanted 50 dollars to help us find a hotel. We found our own in the end, but even they seemed to want to rip us off. We all had a really bad feeling, although actually i think it was lack of sleep, as in the morning, it just seemed like a normal town. This photo, of us leaving in the morning, is my only pic of this strange period.

Last mountain range before the sea, an absolutely massive bees nest just off the road, which i sensibly left alone.

I think we were all getting a bit excited at the prospect of a beach and some relaxation at this point, which explains a lot.

Its a pretty special feeling, being on a road, looking down on the clouds.

And once we were out of the mountains, billiard table flat, but before Mui Ne, we had to navigate 10kms of road like this. Sandy mud, tarmac for 50 metres, Sandy mud, tarmac, sandy mud, tarmac. For 10 kms. Good chance to improve my enduro skills though. And then, Mui Ne. And the sea. But that will have to wait for the next post.


~ by zendog888 on 07/12/2010.

6 Responses to “Hue to Mui Ne – The Road South”

  1. Bola Fight!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. The picture of the little girl with the helmet on is so adorable! Looks like you are having fun… beautiful views! I bet they are much more enjoyable on a bike than on an overnight, overcrowded sleeper bus….

  3. The scenery is very Predator.

    • I took the precaution of covering myself in mud at all times. And carving wooden stake traps. And stabbing a wild boar to death. Just in case.

  4. If it bleeds we can kill it.

  5. hi Hywel, looks like you’re having a journey of a lifetime – beats my Christmas concerts into a cocked hat as they sometimes say.
    Lovely to read your blogs and the pics are amazing

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