Riding into the Night

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Where I stayed
Above a Mattress Shop

Flag of Vietnam  , (VM19),
Monday, February 7, 2011

Sapa had really had the desired effect, we were very chilled out after a couple of days of lounging around in the mountains. We were so relaxed that it took us ages to leave.  The Scandinavian college trip that arrived at 6am annoyed us at first but actually it worked in our favour, watching a film before breakfast and getting the blog written.

We felt the need to make the most of the bakeries before leaving town so stocked up on pain au chocolates and other breads for the journey ahead.  Part of our relaxed approach to the day was that we knew that the first 20 miles back to Lao Cai were downhill.  We enjoyed the descent, very little pedalling for almost 2 hours.  Unfortunately we descended into the fog that is so common to this area but the views from the winding road gave plenty to marvel at. 

Back in Lao Cai we didn't hang around, largely due to some ridiculously loud street music.  On leaving town we noticed that the weather had significantly changed.  It was really hot!  We had to stop to remove leggings, waterproof socks and other unnecessary layers.  No sooner had we done so, we saw the first cycle tourists we have met for some time.  The German and Czech couple were on their way back across to Europe by land.  They had spent the last couple of months covering the route we plan to take down to Singapore.  Unsurprisingly we had a good deal to talk about, I felt very pleased to tell them that the road they had planned to take had actually disappeared underwater.  We probably saved them much distress.

On we went, weighing up the new country.  Although we had been in Vietnam for two days, this was really the first taste of the true Vietnam (Sapa was set up for tourists and very nice it was too).  The early signs were positive.  The thousands of motorbikes flooded past.  The people were warm and friendly (a few were idiots but they were drunk young blokes who certainly should not have been driving a bike).  The road was smooth and there was lots to look at (I particularly enjoyed the moped that went past with a coffin strapped to the back!  Polly said "Was that a coffin on the back of that bike?"  I said “Yes Polly, it was”).

We had our first taste of local food and enjoyed the pork and rice dish, even if it took about an hour to arrive.  This wait contributed to our battle against time.  We had taken our eye of the ball and had also not accounted for the one hour time change from China.  Sure enough, at about 6pm the light went.  So quickly leaving us with a dilemma.  Do we camp or head on for the next town?  Camping would have been OK but we had not really got to grips with the locals yet so we ploughed on.  Unfortunately this meant 15 miles in the dark making a total of 68 - punchy for our first day in a new country.  It was safe however, we were well lit up, and the road had quietened down significantly.  Never the less, we trod carefully and would have much preferred to be sitting back with the bikes locked up for the night.

A few annoying hills on we saw the lights to a town.  We asked at a café and the girl jumped on her moped and beckoned for us to follow.  She took us to a mattress shop which turned out to be a front for a guesthouse.  The pink frilly room was a delight (!?).  Across the street we enjoyed some egg noodles and dodgy dried meat (thought it was pork, now think it was chicken, either way it was rubbish).

A good day back on the bike even if it did drag on too long.  Must buy some Aviators, looks like it is going to be sunny. (Also - note to self, never believe peple who saw the road is flat unless they have actually cycled it. The tourist office guy was LYING!!!)

68 long miles, 50 before it got dark!

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triciagick on

Bon Voyage and may all your hills be downhill! xx

triciagick on

Just love your frilly sleeping department - I think the pork looks quite tastty too.xxxxxxx

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